After what we all saw in LeBron James' return to Cleveland last night, LeBron returning to the Cavaliers seems crazy now, but a lot can change in five years. Here are a few things that need to happen for LeBron to return to Cleveland in the summer of 2015.
1. Cleveland Can't Win a Championship
For the moment, this doesn't seem like much of a concern, but if Cleveland does win a championship without LeBron, there is no reason to bring him back.
2. The Cavaliers Need to Restock
LeBron left Cleveland because he felt like their roster wasn't strong enough to win a championship. If the Cavaliers don't revamp their roster, there is little chance that LeBron would come back to play with essentially the same cast of characters. Fortunately, the Cavs will be blessed with something they haven't had in the last five years with LeBron in place: lottery picks.
3. Apologies Have to be Made
First and foremost by LeBron. LeBron needs to be extremely remorseful for the way he left Cleveland in order to begin the healing process. Cleveland fans certainly won't accept LeBron back unless he apologizes for the way he embarrassed and betrayed them on national TV. Also, Dan Gilbert needs to apologize to LeBron. What he said about LeBron was unprofessional and insulting, and the two will need to square things away before they can think about contract negotiations.
4. LeBron Needs a Change of Heart
LeBron devastated Cleveland fans when he left them for Miami, and since then he hasn't shown much remorse. If he is going to return to Cleveland, it isn't going to be for money or for championships or for the the nightlife, its going to be for Cleveland. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and it very well could happen the same way for LeBron and his home state.
5. Cleveland Needs to Forgive
This is what it all comes down to. Easier said than done, but after five years of watching Mo Williams take the big shots at the end of games, it might not be as hard as it may seem now for Cleveland to welcome LeBron back.
LeBron returning to Cleveland after betraying it for Miami would be the NBA version of the prodigal son, but who knows what will happen over the next five years? The Heat could win three championships, or they could fail to make it past the first round of the playoffs. Time will tell, but if the summer of 2010 free agency taught us anything, it's that it's never too early to start overhyping a free agency period. Bring on 2015, and let the LeBron back to Cleveland rumors begin.