Cleveland Rejoices as LeBron and the Heat Fall Short of an NBA Title

John Anthony PendasContributor IJune 13, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat walks into the interview room to answer questions after the Heat were defeated 105-95 by the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

"The Decision" seems almost like yesterday to most Cleveland fans, and yet it occurred nearly a year ago.  

All year, the focus was not on how the Cavaliers performed but how LeBron was performing with his new team.  The 2010-2011 NBA season could not have started any better for Clevelanders, as the Miami Heat began the season 9-8.

Every LeBron hater rejoiced because the Heat did not start their season 17-0.  Then, the Heat hit their stride, winning 12 in a row and 21 out of 22 including LeBron's first game back in Cleveland post "The Decision."  All the critics grew silent waiting for the next opportunity to bash the Heat and LeBron.

The Heat again would struggle, particularly to closing out games later on in the season.  Capped by their one point loss to Chicago at home 87-86 and Mike Tirico's words "and the Heat fail to close again," coach Eric Spoelstra admitted players were crying in the locker room after the game and "crygate" was born.

The Heat, amidst all the criticism, finished strong and were able to procure the 2nd seed in the East, and 3rd best overall, assuring them home field advantage against every team except Chicago and San Antonio.

The questions of whether the Heat could close out games were answered the first three rounds as the Heat, LeBron specifically, were clutch down the stretch of games, propelling themselves to the Heat's second Finals appearance in franchise history.

The Heat would play with the same intensity and focus they had the previous three series through game one and 42 minutes of game two.  The final six minutes of game two foreshadowed what would be the theme of the finals.

Yes, the Heat would sneak a game 3 victory in Dallas but overall failed to close games out.  Game 2 was the turning point of the series, and Dallas never looked back.  With incredible comeback after incredible comeback, the Mavericks would take the series and hoist the championship trophy.

LeBron haters and critics again came out in full force, and this time, they were justified.  LeBron did not display the same aggression in his game play.  The man who is hands down one of the toughest players to guard became passive.

I looked over at my step-dad and could only nod my head in agreement when he said 'that is not LeBron playing out there."  The only thing that came into my mind was the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That was LeBron's body out there, but it seemed he wasn't the one inside of it.

Cleveland, still bitter about his departure, were ecstatic over the final outcome.  LeBron left and could not justify his departure with a championship. 

Dan Gilbert the Cavaliers owner would tweet after the Heat lost "Congrats to Mark C.&entire Mavs org. Mavs NEVER stopped & now entire franchise gets rings. Old Lesson for all:There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE."

Similar to his Comic Sans rant post-decision, Gilbert could not resist commenting on LeBron.  Again imagery of a jealous ex-girlfriend begin to flood your mind when you think of the situation.  

For those who question LeBron's maturity at times, one only needs to look at the owner he knew for seven years.

Gilbert has proven to not be the best of role models yet probably one of the more brilliant business men.  He single-handedly directed his fan base to hate on LeBron and not focus on their struggles all year.  

Well Cleveland, it's been one full NBA season, and it's time to move on.  Focus on your team, because no matter how much you hate on LeBron, that will not help improve your team.

The Heat fans, on the other hand, can only stay positive from this day forward.  We were spoiled all year watching a team struggle early on, only to see every bit the team we thought they would be when the big 3 came together.

The thought was, we were still one year away, and yet we exceeded expectations.  The Heat came within two games of hoisting up the trophy after all the setbacks and injuries.  The one sure thing to take from this year: this will be the worst Heat team.

Now that's a scary thought, and the league has definitely taken notice.