"I got a goal, and it's a huge goal, and that's to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland," James said. "And I won't stop until I get it."
With those words spoken just a few short months ago on NBA TV, LeBron James reassured Cleveland fans that he is in it for the long haul. A glowing James spoke highly of his hometown team, the professionalism of the players, and the depth on the Cavaliers roster.
Fast forward just over three months, LeBron held the city of Cleveland hostage before parading out onto national television, just to announce that he was fleeing town for a better chance to win.
"I think the major factor and the major reason in my decision was the best opportunity for me to win and to win now and to win into the future also," stated James.
There you have it, it all comes down to the ring. He wants to be like his hero Michael Jordan, but did Michael Jordan quit when the Pistons beat him three times in a row? No, he stuck with his team until he beat them. He made the players around him better.
Granted, the Cavaliers had the best record in the regular season this year before faltering in the playoffs, but why work for something when you have a sure thing waiting for you in Miami.
Hometown loyalty? A thing of the past. Team loyalty? Not today.
In a town with so few things to look forward to—a perennially losing football team, a baseball team that sells their prospects to the highest bidder, a rising unemployment rate, a rising poverty level—LeBron gave hope. A hometown boy growing up to lead his team to victory: a storybook ending.
That simply wasn't the case though. LeBron was a hometown boy by geographic location only. A New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, and Chicago Bulls fan, James' wound up in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform by fate, not because he longed to be since he was a kid.
Since April when LeBron assured fans he wouldn't stop until he brought them a championship, what changed?
The Cavaliers lost in the playoffs to the Boston Celtics. After multiple performances where LeBron failed to step up when the team needed him to, he finally just stopped playing in the final two minutes of the last game.
He knew it was over, and we knew it was over. Not just the game, the LeBron saga in Cleveland. He quit at the end of the season, and now he officially quit in the off-season, should any of us still be surprised about this?
The biggest problem is that James left the franchise in limbo while making his decision, in the meantime allowing all the big name free agents to get signed to other teams. Not only that, but the Cavaliers sold their draft picks out to the highest bidders just to get the free agents LeBron wanted the past few seasons. He got the players he wanted, and then failed to produce. Seven seasons, no rings.
Is that the kind of leader that a hard-working, loyal, blue collar town wants? Not this writer.
For the remaining Cleveland diehards, where does that leave the Cavaliers? Dead in the water?
Absolutely not, the Cavs now have a hard-working, proven coach in Byron Scott, an extremely motivated owner in Dan Gilbert, and an intense fan base fired up to throw it back in LeBron's face.
They also have young talent in JJ Hickson and Daniel Green, a great shooter in Mo Williams, a solid big man in Anderson Varejao, and a forward ready to step up in Antwawn Jamison.
Maybe LeBron took the easy way out, but the city of Cleveland has never quit, and they aren't going to start now.
It's not over Cavs fans, as majority owner Dan Gilbert said himself, "I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA championship before the self-titled former "King" wins one. You can take it to the bank."