Clarifying the Situation: Why LeBron Left Cleveland

Perry KostidakisContributor IJune 15, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat answers 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

Today at summer football workouts, a couple teammates and I got into a huge argument. It wasn't about a girl, it wasn't about manliness or caused by testosterone, it wasn't even involving football.

It was about why LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.

Even though my main sports knowledge is that of professional and college football, I won't lie, I do know a fair amount about basketball. My goal in life is to be a professional sportswriter, so I'm doing my best to educate myself of all aspects of all sports.

So when somebody tries to claim I don't know anything about sports, it hits a nerve, because that's all I do know. And I'm positive about my explanation of why LeBron left, and anybody who follows sports continuously, and not when their team is doing well, should agree with me.


LeBron left for two main reasons.

  1. He was tired of being "The Man", being asked to be a sole superstar.
  2. He, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh had been planning to team up on a megateam for a few years, possibly dating back to the 2008 Olympics.


In Cleveland, LeBron was asked to put up 40 points a night, be a role model and live up to the expectations that had been set for him since he was a 12-year-old getting national recognition. He was supposed to be the second coming of Jordan, one of the (maybe the) best players of all time. But it started to get on him.

Having never played college basketball, he had never learned to deal with true pressure, how to go during crunch time. It all started when he was swept by the Spurs in the Finals, then year after year continued to disappoint, at least by his and others standards, in the postseason. The Cavs made it to the Conference Finals one more time after his Finals trip, being upset by the Orlando Magic 4-2.

This was glaringly apparent in this year's Finals. During the regular season he was phenomenal. Against the Sixers, Celtics and Bulls he was clutch, but you know why? Because they never really had an issue against those teams. Yeah, they were skilled teams—one had Derrick Rose, MVP of the league—but they won all series 4-1. And then as soon as they were challenged by the Mavericks in Game 2, LeBron shied away from being a leader, climaxing with Wade yelling at him after he got sick of his lack of aggressiveness.

It became a pattern: performing ungodly athletic things during the regular season and first round, where there was no pressure or "back up against the wall" type situations. Cleveland consistently secured one of the top five regular season records, but alas, whenever the pressure came on, they couldn't finish.

It's not to say it was all on LeBron. The most help he ever got was from Mo Williams and a nearing-retirement Shaq. If he's the next Jordan, he was never given his Scottie Pippen. I have no doubt in my mind last summer Cleveland was trying to make moves to get him one, but his mind was already made up. I really don't think there was a decision to be made, because the decision had already been made a long time before.

Dwayne Wade and LeBron, while they were rivals on the court, had always been close friends. When Wade won a championship before LeBron, he teased him nonstop. They were on the Olympic team together. And so one day, like all crazy plans start, they were just palling around with Bosh, who they knew was going to be a free agent as well.

I'm sure one of them said, "You know what would be great? If we all played together!" I'm sure they laughed it off and thought of it as crazy. But then I'm sure as time grew, they started to get more serious about it, one of those "so insane it actually sounds plausible" type situations. And eventually, I'm sure the decided on Miami as the place to go. No income tax, great party scene and attractive women; it all made sense.

So not only was LeBron finally getting the help he needed, the pressure to be "the greatest" was lifted and he was going to play with friends in a great city on one of the biggest superteams of all time. This would make Boston's Big Three look like nothing.

No, he didn't leave for money—the man has already made ridiculous amounts, and most likely gets more money from endorsements and sponsorships than his contract. He most likely didn't leave because Delonte West supposedly did the horizontal tango with his mother.

He just wanted to try and win a championship more easily, and get away from the stress of being No. 1.That's apparent to anyone who pays attention to the NBA. But why did he want to give up? Why didn't he want to do it on his own?

Maybe he doesn't want to use all the talent in the world to become one of the greatest to ever play the game. Because that's what he has. The man never went to college and tuned his talents but still is one of the top five players in the league. But sometimes people don't turn out the way we want. Expectations are rarely ever met. It's highly disappointing, but alas, so is the world.