LeBron James: Will the Cleveland Cavaliers Retire His Jersey?

Jesse Severson@@YSJesseSeversonContributor IJune 30, 2012

LeBron James: Will the Cleveland Cavaliers Retire His Jersey?

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    I hate LeBron James.

    But, to be fair, I've hated him since he was with Cleveland. As a fan of the Celtics, who faced off against James and the Cavaliers in the playoffs, it was more of a hateful respect—like Derek Jeter. 

    Then the Decision came, and James suddenly joined the likes of John Dillinger as Public Enemy No. 1. The messy divorce from Cleveland—whose claims to fame are this, this, and most importantly, this—led James to become a traitor to the city. 

    Now that he's won a championship (which, let's not kid ourselves, is most likely one of many), he's bound to win some more. This leads to the question: when James' career is done, will the Cleveland Cavaliers retire his jersey?

The Decision

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    There really is no more perfect analogy to the Decision than a breakup, so allow me to describe it as though it was an episode of Melrose Place.

    Considering he was born and raised in Akron, James and the city of Cleveland were high school sweethearts. They had dated for seven years, and then James graduated high school and became the top pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. 

    Then, in 2010, James became a free agent. With several teams lined up around the block for his services, James announced he would tell the world where he would play next in "The Decision." This was like James revealing to Cleveland that he had something very important to tell them, but would tell them at a wedding reception of a friend in front of a crowd.

    When the time came, James hit his champagne glass with a fork, and told everybody around that he had an important announcement. With Cleveland sitting anxiously at his side, assuming that he was going to pop the question, he said:

    "I've just received an amazing job offer in Miami, so I want to let everybody know that I'll be moving to South Beach this year. Unfortunately, this means that Cleveland and I will no longer be dating."

    James built up a grandiose moment only to rip the heart out of Cleveland in front of everybody. It was one of the worst wedding moments in years. Cleveland ran off in tears while everybody at the reception looked around and all said the same thing:

    "What a prick." 

The Aftermath

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    Cleveland fans acted...well, how you'd expect an ex to react.

    They slashed his tires. They threw a cinderblock through his windshield. They sat in a parked car across the street from his house for days.

    They took the pictures of them and LeBron together in the 2007 Finals and put them through a shredder. They took the jersey he left at their house and burned it in the streets

    Dan Gilbert decided it was a wise idea to write him an angry letter.

    It was one of the worst breakups imaginable. 

    Since then, LeBron has been happy with his new job in Miami, and Cleveland has slowly picked up the pieces and even started dating somebody much younger than the man they (used to) love. 

LeBron's Legacy

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    As a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James accomplished the following:

    Won two MVP awards.

    Made six All-Star games.

    Won a league scoring title.

    Was named to the All-NBA first team six times.

    Was named to the All-Defense first team twice.

    Single-handedly carried the Cavaliers to their first Finals appearance like he was Forrest Gump carrying Bubba out of the jungle.

    Most importantly, he did the impossible: Made the Cleveland Cavaliers relevant. 

Cleveland Cavaliers' Retired Numbers

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers have retired six players' jerseys. They are:

    Mark Price

    Price was a four-time All-Star for the Cavaliers, with his best year coming in 1993: he was named to the All-NBA first team by averaging just over 18 points and eight assists per game. He was the Cavaliers' all-time leader in steals until he was passed by...yep, LeBron James.

    Brad Daugherty

    I remember Daugherty because of his basketball card when he was the No. 1 pick in the draft. Before becoming a NASCAR analyst (wait, what?), Daugherty was a five-time All-Star and was the Cavaliers all-time leader in points until he was passed by...yep, LeBron James.

    Bingo Smith

    Bingo—with a nickname like that, I refuse to refer to him as Smith—never made an All-Star team. The peak of his powers with the Cavaliers came in 1975, when he averaged 15.9 points a game.

    Larry Nance

    Nance played seven seasons with the Cavaliers and made two All-Star games and one All-Defensive first team. In his best year with Cleveland, Nance averaged 19.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game.

    Austin Carr

    Nicknamed "Mr. Cavalier," Carr spent nine seasons with the Cavaliers and made one All-Star team. He went on to become a popular TV broadcaster for the Cavs, which counts for something, right?

    Nate Thurmond 

    Born in Akron (whoa, spooky), Thurmond was named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He made seven All-Star games, and was the first person to record an official quadruple double. 

    Oh, this may be important: He did this all for the San Francisco/Golden State Warriors. In the two (TWO!!) seasons he played for the hometown Cavaliers to finish his career, Thurmond averaged 4.6 and 5.5 points a game, respectively. 

    And they retired his jersey. 

    Oh, and Wikipedia needs to find a more flattering picture for Thurmond than him "battling" for a rebound with Wilt Chamberlain

Will They Retire His Jersey?

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    LeBron James was/is the greatest basketball player to put on a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform. 

    In fact, when his career is over, he'll most likely be one of the top five players to ever play the game. 

    One day—it will still be a while—the "Mistake b –" city of Cleveland will finally get over how he made them feel that day. They'll look back at the good times. The thunderous dunks. The way he made them feel when he threw the baby powder up in the air before games.

    They'll realize that for seven seasons, they got to watch one of the best basketball players in the world play on a nightly basis. 

    One day, maybe with a few boos from some bitter fans, the Cleveland Cavaliers will raise James' 23 to the rafters.

    I mean, did I mention they retired Bingo Smith's jersey?