On LeBron’s potential return to the Cavs


Joshua Gunter/The Plain Dealer

So, how’s everyone’s holiday going? Paying attention to the news?

There isn’t any real news yet, of course, but that hasn’t stopped Twitter and sports talk radio from exploding with the idea that LeBron’s return to the Cleveland Cavaliers is feeling imminent. Obviously nobody knows what’s actually going to happen and we here at WFNY know all too well that just because sources are saying one thing doesn’t mean that it will eventually come to pass. Until LeBron is sitting in a press conference with a Cavaliers jersey in his hands with media firing questions at him, it isn’t real. But damnit if it doesn’t feel pretty fun to potentially be on the cusp of relevance.

Whether we’re talking about Dustin Fox, Chad Zumock or The BSK Kendall Lewis, it appears that everyone’s hearing the same things. LeBron is talking seriously about coming back to Cleveland. Did someone overhear a conversation that Dan Gilbert had with someone else? Are there specific conditions that have been laid out to the Cavaliers by Rich Paul, LeBron’s agent? Nobody knows for sure, or at least for sure for sure, but there’s just no denying that there is smoke even if it never gets the requisite oxygen to become a full-fledged fire.

I know there are a lot of people who are still sickened by the idea of LeBron James returning after what he did to us. I was speaking with my wife about “The Decision” again this morning when we were discussing the latest round of media reports and I couldn’t help but jumping back in that time machine just to verify that I was as angry, hurt and sad as I was that night. I was so destroyed and my wife reminded me that she – a mostly impartial observer – had assured me throughout that day that, “Of course LeBron is coming back. He would never have this TV special if he was leaving.”1

But that was a long time ago. My four-year-old was just three months old at that time. I remember because I recall not caring2 if I woke him up when I cursed at the top of my lungs. But I’ve changed a lot since then. I’ve re-learned a ton about not only apologizing but to accept apologies. There’s something about being a dad and teaching your kids about grace and humility that you can’t help but remember to try and be a decent example for them, at least to some approximation of your own capabilities.

With that in mind, if LeBron James does find it in his best interest to return to the Cavaliers and try to mend fences that he bulldozed, I’d prefer to at least try to enable it. Part of wanting to be right is making room on your side for others to join you. That enables divided parties to find room to meet in the middle on some things. As time has gone by, I’ve recognized some of the faults in the Cavs organization that LeBron must have considered when he made the decision to bolt. LeBron has realized many of his own faults too, I’m sure. If we’re this far along in the rumor mill, you’ve got to assume (or at least hope) that Dan Gilbert’s made some admissions of fault as well. With all those parties acquiescing, what’s left?

The hallmark of a truly good deal – and not just in sports, mind you – is that it is good for everyone involved. If it’s good for LeBron James to mend fences close to home, and it’s undoubtedly good for Dan Gilbert, and most importantly it’s good for Cavs fans who never really wanted anything more than a great basketball team, then why should anyone stand in the way?

Again, I won’t believe it until I see LeBron smiling into a camera holding that Cavs jersey again, but it feels possible today. I won’t beg for it either, because that doesn’t have any real impact on this situation and even if it did, I wouldn’t do it. But it feels more possible than it did last week. It’s a good feeling. I’m still well-prepared for bad news though and I would recommend everyone else stay at least somewhat guarded as well. One thing I decreed after “The Decision” was that I would never allow an athlete to have that emotional effect on me ever again, and I meant it.

At least I mean it until one of them delivers a championship, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. But if he wants to come back, I’m ready. Hell, I finally forgave Jim Thome. Why not LeBron?

Art Modell knows better than to ask.

  1. I really should have held that against her. Ha. Kidding. []
  2. giving a blank []
  • humboldt

    I guess I read it as a narrative of atonement and forgiveness for our home region, and find that quite captivating, and even potentially life-affirming. However, I can understand how it would feel insufferable if you were only reading it as a title-chasing storyline.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    I don’t want him back because I still hold a grudge. What has he done since to apologize? Why should I be clamoring and groveling like an idiot for some basketball player I have no personal connection with? I’m sure he is an okay guy in his personal life, but as an athlete/celebrity I don’t like him and after the way he left, I don’t care to have him back. Championships have, and will be won in the future, by teams without LeBron James on the roster.

    The dumb “fans”, as you put it, aren’t the one’s who have an opinion that they don’t like the guy, they are the one’s who will give anyone a free pass just so they can get their championship. Those are the fans that are pathetic; excusing PED users, wifebeaters, criminals, and whatever other morally corrupt athlete they encounter just so they can say their team is the best. LeBron’s departure is not even close to as bad as any of those things, but still, have some self respect and stand by your convictions. If you didnt hold a grudge four years ago, that’s fine. If you did, what has he done to change anyone’s opinion of him? If you still want to forgive him for no real reason, fine. I dont have to and I wont.

  • humboldt

    He did issue an apology for The Decision. At this point, 4 years later, I choose to see that as evidence of greater maturity and self-awareness and have been willing to begin the process of forgiving : https://twitter.com/KBergCBS/status/68512453046185984

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    Yea, I’ve seen that video. I feel it was sort of a throw away apology at a time when he was under heavy scrutiny about turning the Decision into actual results (2011 playoffs were underway with the Heat v. Celtics facing off when he said that). He is mainly talking about his team and trying to overcome the Celtics, and how he needed Wade and Bosh to do it. Youre right though, I should of at least acknowledged this as some slight olive branch. Personally, it didn’t, and still doesn’t move the needle much for me though.

    I guess I am slightly confused why Clevelanders are trying so hard to convince themselves through some straw-man, convoluted justification, that it is okay for them to root for LeBron again. With that, comes some sort of civic duty that they must also bash all of their Cleveland brethren who disagree, and still dont like LeBron. “How could you not want to the best player in the world on your team?” “He said he was sorry, sort of, once.” “Get over it man, it was 4 years ago”.

    I cant believe Im getting scolded for not liking the guy who walked out on us in front of the world in the most egotistical, self aggrandizing media show, and then got on stage and started counting of his 8 future championships with his super-friends, but not the rest of the team. I mean hell, some people hate athletes strictly because they’re good-looking or have a weird accent and no one bats an eye at that logic, but I hate the guy who actually hurt our city and Im crazy and illogical.

  • saggy

    in brief: LeBron pissed me off 4 years ago. But i’d be completely hypocritical if i was mad at what he did. I also left cleveland in my late 20’s to go to a bigger city to see what else is out there. He was immature, and it’s a hard life to live in front of the cameras all the time. Considering he spent the prior 10 years not only living up to the hype but surpassing it – and with class – i feel that i can forgive this transgression. I will always remain angry about it but I also have gotten over it. It feels much better this way. (that’s not to say i wasn’t rooting hard against the Heat…)

  • saggy

    it’s ok to root for anyone you want, but i think we are saying it’s fine to root for LeBron if he comes back to the Cavs becauase we all root for the Cavs. Since he is the best player in the league it would make sense that you would want your team to sign him.

    It’s not show friends, it’s show business.

  • saggy

    but the players you mentioned would still all be here if LeBron came back, so you wouldn’t be missing all of that great stuff you’re talking about. LeBron took Ira Newble to the Finals. Think of what he could do for kids with actual talent.

  • humboldt

    “Hurt our city” is a pretty strong statement. People are acting like he damaged Cleveland like the allies bombing of Dresden. In reality, he chose a narcissistic and immature method of exercising his free agency, and has since apologized for it. To continue feeling the same hurt and distrust is understandable, but I simply choose not to stay mired in those feelings, and to accept the olive branch he offered. Him returning to the Cavs makes us instantly relevant and competitive, and also represents a story of reconciliation that I find very appealing.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    Regardless of his talent, I don’t want to sign him. Thats just me. I completely understand why a lot of people would given his talent, but his behavior has generally tuned me out. If he is on our team, we’ll be better, I would support the team as a whole, but that is especially difficult if said athlete is the face of the franchise and the team has only 15 players and not say 53 players.

    Regarding your last point, I get that its business for LeBron. He has every right to do what he thinks is best for him, his family, his brand, etc. For us as fans though, its not business, its entertainment. I have every right to not like a guy and root against him. I also have a tough time just accepting that guy I respect immensely as a player, but love to hate, right back into the fold.

  • whosevelt

    It’s true that they’d still have the current players but the whole tone would be different. The story would be “Lebron: The Sequel” not Wiggins, Kyrie, Varejao and Bennett finding love in a hopeless place.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    There’s an irony in there somewhere that you use lyrics from a singer who has repeatedly gone back to her abusive boyfriend.

  • Natedawg86

    what about “The Return”

  • Jimmyjamm

    “Why should I be clamoring and groveling like an idiot for some basketball player I have no personal connection with?” Well if you really feel like that you shouldn’t still holding a grudge against someone you don’t care about. I want him back, as should you

  • Jimmyjamm

    “Why should I be clamoring and groveling like an idiot for some basketball player I have no personal connection with?” Well if you really feel like that you shouldn’t still holding a grudge against someone you don’t care about. I want him back, as should you

  • Jimmyjamm

    He didn’t insult any of us. Truth is it hurt to see our championship dreams leave for south beach. I joined the army and left..I have since gotten out but I didn’t move back..so does that now make me a traitor? No! I remember the electricity that use to be in the Q and I want it back #welcomehome

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    Ha. All Im saying is fans begging for this basketball player to come play for their team like he is some messiah look like idiots. It looks especially bad in Cleveland when 3 months ago these same people were all saying how much they despise the guy.

    You know, we all criticized LeBron for taking the “easy way out” when he went to team up with Wade n Bosh. Now what do (apparently most) of us fans want to do? Try to take the easy way to a championship by instantly renouncing everything bad we have said about LeBron over the last 4 yrs so the best player in the NBA can bail us all out. The hypocrisy of our fan-base over the last two weeks as this rumor has gained traction has been astounding.

  • Jimmyjamm

    Yea I feel you..I was kinda mad he left because he took the championship dreams with him. But I was never one to talk bad about him. I wanted him to win rings in Miami but I always wanted him to come back. Personally for me I would love to have a super team w/kyrie, wiggins, LeBron and somehow trade for k. Love…I want a championship into lifetime..but I do feel you..if he comes back and gets us a championship all would be forgiven. I think everybody was sad to see our championship aspirations

  • The Other Tim

    Could somebody post a screen grab of the Ken Berger tweet?

  • billnye97

    If Lebron comes back and wins a championship here it doesn’t matter what ring it has to it. This city will go insane and Lebron and Co will have accomplished something this city hasn’t seen in 50 years. Call me crazy but I wouldn’t be “Meh!” to that scenario. I’d be ecstatic.

  • Hopwin

    Until the information coming out is from someone more credible than Chad Zumock (whose claim to fame is his 15 second video of Lebron jersey burning on CNN the night of the decision) and the same people who swore up and down just before the decision that LBJ would NEVER leave, because teh sources!!! I don’t buy it.


    More importantly than that, like Craig said at the end, don’t let a freaking pro athlete affect you so much. There are so many more important things in life.

  • architrance

    Interesting fact: Windy pointed out the unique Haywood contract. He’s only guaranteed $2.2M this year but that jumps up to $10.5M next season. He could prove a vital piece of a S&T to add yet another large FA next summer, even though the Cavs could be well over the cap.

  • architrance

    Well, since none of us actually need to be ” clamoring and groveling like an idiot” to beg him to come back – since we have absolutely ZERO impact on the man’s decision and how the Cavs go about it. Just sit back and enjoy. It’s sports, this is the fun part, dreaming of your team getting immensely better and stepping back out into the national spotlight. Don’t get all in a fit. Nothing’s happened. Lets just wait & see.

  • architrance

    Um. Just don’t count your chickens before they hatch or your going to be left out in the cold with your pants down.

  • architrance

    Yeah, he turned the Heat into a 2 time champ, not the other way around. Heat culture? What’s that being the ultimate fair weather sports fan?

  • eldaveablo

    I could really care less about the narrative. I care about adding the best player in the league, in his prime, to young, talented team that happens to be my favorite team. Journalists can add all the background and story they want, but I’m just daydreaming about what that team could look like. Think about it, with Wiggins and LBJ out there, Kyrie wouldn’t even NEED to play defense.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Were he to come back, then at that point the narrative be damned–winning will be all that matters. It’s the fuel to the fire of LOL CLEVELAND story lines should he not come back that I’m not looking forward to.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • eldaveablo

    This idea wins the Cleveland Sports rumor mill.

  • Tairy Greene

    if he does come back, the cavs absolutely must win a championship. if they can’t pull it off and he bolts again, the backlash will be much uglier the second time around.

  • mgbode

    If we didn’t have emotional ties, then none of us would be on this site commenting

  • mgbode

    Again, not really a grudge. It would ruin the allure of the title for me. Fair or not, I hold the right to feel that way.

  • RGB

    My emotional ties are to the orange helmet, wine and gold, and chief wahoo.
    Whoever wears the gear doesn’t matter to me.
    Just win baby.

  • mgbode

    That’s good and I respect that opinion.

  • Franky

    Cleveland is sickening. The man gave 7 years trying to achieve a goal while carrying a sluggish team with no names. Even shaq couldn’t help him on his journey, yet cleveland wants to burn him and dismember the legacy he tried to build. Year after year, with no help whatsoever. Cleveland doesn’t deserve a LeBron. Dan doesn’t deserve a superstar because he can’t make business the right way. Miami won’t burn his jersey or exclude him from Heat history. They appreciate his talent and wish him the best. That, not being the cavaliers.