An Open Letter to LeBron James from a Cavs Fan About His Potential Return
It’s been a while, man, hope all’s good. Would’ve hit you on the BBM like the old days, but we’re all on iPhones now in Cleveland.
No offense intended. By the way, I really enjoyed the irony of your barbershop commercial last year.
Anyway, I've been hearing a lot about this potential return in 2014 and wanted to check in with you on that. I was hoping we could talk before everything got too carried away.
Speaking only for myself, of course—as a Cavaliers fan who spent his entire life in Northeast Ohio—I understand why you might want to come home at this point.
Kyrie Irving could well be the best teammate you've ever had. And playing with him as a member of the Cavs, you could also begin to heal a relationship with your hometown that was once indelibly scarred by the way you left.
Obviously, though, there was certainly a time I never thought a return like this could be possible.
When you were sitting there with Kanye and Jim Gray that day, I didn't think you cared about Cleveland or the Cavaliers at all.
It wasn't until I found myself standing on the Quicken Loans Arena court last year that this notion that you could potentially return first invaded my stream of consciousness.
Not sure if you recall, but I was the guy standing among the media gathered with the stunned look on his face while you were being pelted with questions about the Yahoo! report that Adrian Wojnarowski had just filed.
You remember that one, right? About how you'd been plotting this return to Cleveland as far back as last season? If not, it was later followed up by a more reports of the same this year, so maybe you caught those.
But after seeing how good Irving actually is over the last two seasons, those reports began to make sense.
Kidding about Hughes. Sorry, I know he's your friend.
But Irving is too—and unlike Hughes—he could actually help you form the best one-two punch in the NBA.
The 20-year-old All-Star is shooting 42.4 percent from three this season and scoring 23.7 points per night. The kid is a stone-killer in the clutch, too, but I know you probably realize that.
I'm sure you caught at least a couple of those 16 field goals Irving's hit this season to tie or take the lead with five minutes remaining or less.
He could be the NBA version of what Dru Joyce III was to you in high school. The professional point guard you've always wanted to play with since breaking into the league.
In addition to winning games with Irving, those wounds you inflicted on Northeast Ohio could begin to heal if you did come back.
We all realize that you cemented your place as the NBA's best player last season.
Going wire-to-wire as the league's MVP—a pace you're on again this year—there is no question about that anymore.
It's mission accomplished in Miami already, no matter what happens from here, and you'll leave town with that ring you were always afraid you might never get.
So despite that divide the size of Lake Erie you tried to draw between Akron and Cleveland when you left, it's all home to you back here in Northeast Ohio.
You've always known that deep down in your King James soul, and I've always known that, too. The 40-year-old LeBron James would enjoy growing old with his family and friends in Northeast Ohio even more if the entire community liked him again.
Which brings us back to this point in NBA history—the dawn of what could be the most surreal moment in my life as a sports fan.
One in which the prodigal son—that’s you in this narrative—returns home on a quest to win an NBA championship with the NBA's next great point guard.
This could be the storyline that follows you. The NBA universe would celebrate it, I'm sure you'd love the attention. Your image could be restored even more than it is now, and ESPN might even invent a "Cavs Index" to continue coverage of your every move.
It would be awesome, actually, and the biggest headline in sports for all of that first season.
So for as much as you've put Cavs fans like me through over the last few years, I would certainly enjoy all that. I'm not going to sit here and lie to you.
I would welcome you back and be up on my feet the first time you caught an Irving lob pass from half court and dunked it. There is no question about it.
Even though some of my friends might be mad at me for telling you this, I'm going to bet they'd be standing up next to me, too.
In saying as much, however, I'm not asking you to come back.
I'm not sure if you checked HoopsHype.com lately, but the Los Angeles Lakers have cleared their books in anticipation of the summer of '14.
They'll come at you with anything you want if you do opt-out, and I'm sure Pat Riley's in the lab right now hatching up schemes to keep you in South Beach.
The New York Knicks could come calling again, too, and I suppose Jay-Z's Nets are in play to some degree as well.
All of which is why I'm not getting excited like I did the last time. There will be no parades, no cheesy songs, no billboards and no begging.
If you'd genuinely like to opt out of your contract and return at the end of next season, I'd welcome you home to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I'll never understand that playoff game against the Celtics, but I'll also never forget how you willed a team with Sasha Pavlovic as a starter to the NBA Finals.
Only this time, with Irving, and even Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and future first-round picks the Cavs will be adding this summer, it won't be as hard to win as it was the last time.
If that chalk were to fly again in Cleveland, just prior to you delivering on that elusive ti---.
I'm getting ahead of myself. You haven't even opted out yet.
For now, I'll just be rooting against you every time you play the Cavaliers. But maybe we can talk more about all this in 2014. Felt good to catch up, regardless.
All the best, LeBron.
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