It has been nearly four years since LeBron James’ free agency turned into the spectacle known as “The Decision.” Everyone knows what happened following the over-the-top announcement; James headed south to Miami, and was joined by star players, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Together, the “Big Three” went on to four straight NBA Finals appearances, winning two of them, yet falling short of the elusive “Dynasty” title. Back in Cleveland, James loyalists burned his jersey, cursed his name and vowed to never mention his name ever again. However, now that James is at a crossroads in his career, it is possible that he opts out of the last two years on his contract, worth $42.6 million. The door has been opened, the light is shining through, and all-of-a-sudden, Cavaliers fans have hope that “King James” will return to his hometown.
Back in 2010, James became frustrated with the lack of support surrounding himself on the court, and looked to the greener pastures of the bright lights of Miami. The local superstar product from Akron, Ohio went from most-beloved to most-despised in a matter of seconds. While “The Decision” rubbed a lot of basketball fans the wrong way, it was hard to blame the guy for wanting to win a championship. In Cleveland, it was essentially a one man show, and though he took the team to the NBA Finals in the 2007 season, his supporting cast was too weak to leave him standing alone at the top of the mountain, hoisting the championship trophy high above his head.
Jump ahead four years to the current roster and possibilities of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise. Running the show is a dynamic, young point guard in Kyrie Irving, who has averaged more than 20 ppg, and dished out nearly six assists per season in his three years in the league. Now, for the second consecutive season, they will have the number one pick in this year’s NBA Draft. With the possibility of picking up a player such as Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, or Jabari Parker, the Cavaliers are primed to add another strong piece to their puzzle. As the pieces fall and slowly begin to take shape, the optimism surrounding the franchise is increasing, and with the buzz of LeBron James possibly returning, things could get exciting in the city Cleveland.
At this point in his career, James has nothing else to prove. He has won two NBA championships, four MVP Awards, and has two Olympic Gold Medals to go along with his professional accomplishments. Some may view a return of James to the Cavaliers as a way for him to right what some thought was a wrong; essentially pulling the knife out of Cleveland’s back, but more so, it would give him the opportunity to give his hometown and first love the excitement and very real possibility at an NBA title. With young talent like Kyre Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and the veteran, Luol Deng, the Cavaliers just may have the foundation to entice James to return to Cleveland. If the crossroads lead to his decision to opt out of his final two years, the possible resurrection of the Cleveland Cavaliers back into the spotlight would further cement James’ already legendary legacy. For now, Cavalier fans can only think about the dark ashes of the burned number 23 jerseys, and hope that one day it will be pieced back together.
Commentary by Johnny Caito