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.