Aside from Game 1, where the Cavs gave an admirable effort and lost due to poor officiating and late-game blunders, I was just waiting for this series to end. Had I known LeBron broke his own shooting hand after Game 1, my outlook would have been even worse.
Now, we shift our attention to watching for LeBron’s next big career decision and here are my thoughts as the process begins.
It is obvious that staying in Cleveland is likely not LeBron’s best chance of winning another championship. The Cavs clearly cannot contend with the Warriors and barely made it out of the East this year. Despite having the 8th pick in the draft, that one player is not going to elevate the Cavs to the top.
From a basketball standpoint, leaving makes the most sense. Or so one would think…
Frankly, leaving to go anywhere such as Houston or Philadelphia immediately puts pressure on LeBron to win more championships and I am not sure that any team in the league, even with the addition of LeBron, can beat a Warriors team that is perfectly built, with superstars in their prime. Yes, Houston took them seven games, but they got lucky.
If LeBron were to leave Cleveland, go to another team, beat the Warriors and win the finals, what does that make him? A Kevin Durant-like player going ring chasing and winning insignificant titles that won’t affect his legacy. LeBron can’t erase the six finals loses he already has no matter how many more rings he wins.
We all know LeBron is from the area, his kids go to school here, he has connections in Cleveland and it is truly his home. I am not a part of the James family, but I am not sure if I was Bronny or Bryce’s age would I want to be switching cities and having to make new friends and start a new school. His wife Savannah also has a life here, too. LeBron made it very clear he is big on family, as he should be, and that will be a big factor in his decision. Thus, staying in Cleveland, in that sense, would make the most sense.
The love that Cleveland fans are showing LeBron on Twitter right now, including CST’s #ThankYouLeBron campaign is tremendous. He has to see this and it must leave a soft spot knowing that if he were to leave, despite fulfilling his promise of a title in 2016, it would be a sad day for Clevelanders and also many bad years of basketball for this organization.
We could lose the next five years with LeBron on our team and he would still be loved to no end because of that 2016 championship. Additionally, re-signing in Cleveland would boost his popularity even more with the reinforcement of loyalty to this city and its people.
Additionally, while I do feel the Cavs are hand-cuffed cap-wise, they will make some moves to improve the roster for next season. The team is going to be totally different with or without #23 on it.
LeBron can ride off into the sunset, accomplishing so many personal achievements, beloved by the City of Cleveland as he eventually starts to decline and retire as the greatest to ever play. Or he can choose a different path focused on winning and ring-chasing. That remains up to him.
I think the national media is putting way too much stock on winning and that family and the hometown are much more important to LeBron than everyone thinks. Of course, seeing him carry an entire team throughout the postseason was tough, but LeBron actually received more praise for doing that than any of the Warriors did for winning a championship that many feel wasn’t even earned.
In LeBron’s letter when he returned home in 2014, he said:
If LeBron leaves Cleveland, he may win more games or another title in the coming years, but what does all that really mean in the long run? A trophy he went chasing for like he was so criticized for doing the first time he left? In my heart, I feel like LeBron will stay for his family and the kids of Akron/Cleveland. It’s not even about basketball for him at this point but more so philanthropic and activistic interests. In my brain, knowing LeBron and what he went through in this postseason, I think he can leave again, something I never considered when he returned.
Regardless, he got us our ring. Some Clevelanders will be mad, everyone will be sad, but the outrage will be nothing like it was in 2010. It’s just going to suck having a terrible basketball team.
Let the rumors begin.
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