LeBron James is on top of the basketball world. He has conquered almost every obstacle put in his ball bashing, rim-wrecking path. LBJ doesn’t owe anything to basketball fans. He is a master craftsman whose play incites the same double-take reaction as that Earl Sweatshirt joint “WHOA”.
Despite his recent success, some cats feel LBJ has an unfulfilled debt to the city of Cleveland, and it’s a good bet James is one of them. The contract he signed in ‘10 allows him to opt out in ’14 and his contracts up in ’16. We’ve already heard rumblings about a possible Ohio return. Granted, it’s early for this conversation but it’s, surprisingly enough, on the table as a consideration.
Here are The Shadow League’s five reasons why LBJ might end up back in Cleveland.
1. He owes Cleveland a ring.
He knows it. No amount of winning, money raised or donated to Akron youth charities can erase feeling of abandonment James’ home state of Ohio feels. There are still heads that just won’t let him live that down. LeBron has earned a champ’s respect, but people still look at him a bit shifty-eyed about how “The Decision” went down. It pisses certain dudes off like Kanye’s skirt did Brand Nubians’ Lord Jamar. It’s got to bother him.
2. Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade are moving in opposite directions.
Dwyane Wade is getting older, and by the time he’s done with this deal, he’ll be 34 with mad mileage and frame damage. That’s a few more chips for the “Big Three” if everything is everything, and should take Wade to the brink of peak performance levels.
Kyrie Irving is trying to single-handedly revive a broken franchise. He’s busting more ass than Wilt Chamberlain at a King Magazine shoot. The young blood is just waiting for Cleveland’s prodigal son to return in a space ship and help lift him to iconic status the same way Shaq did for Kobe and Wade. Shaq could’ve stayed with Kobe and collected more hardware; instead he bounced to Miami and helped unleash the legend of Wade. Irving (thought he is admittedly, so far in his career, injury-prone) is a decade younger than Wade and he’s burning it up the NBA player-rankings. If LeBron is looking for career extension, the best wing man is swooping and swerving Irving.
Mending shattered relations with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will be rough, but it would be a story for the ages. If LeBron’s PR "Cream Team" is on point, they’d know that a move back to Cleveland would further immortalize LeBron and finally endear him to everyone. Then instead of just dominating like Jordan, he can really experience that Jordan love. No one could be mad at LBJ if he bounced back to home base. Miami would be gravy. The endless publicity, financial windfall and credibility James brought to that area is ridiculous. He’s got nothing to prove there. Potential big-city suitors like the Knicks and Lakers need to fall back and understand that after years of battling for love and supremacy—The King is coming home a hero.
4. If he’s going to keep flamming on the Slam Dunk Contest, this is the next best thing.
LeBron has seen success on South Beach, but he still doesn’t strike me as a Miami dude. He’s more hometown than that. If the conversation is going to be between Jordan and LeBron for G.O.A.T. status, then LBJ needs every split-haired advantage. Winning the dunk contest would be epic. Getting his Bone Thugs on, by seeing Cleveland at the crossroads so they won’t be lonely, would put LBJ in a class for dolo. James needs to keep this in mind as he plans for the future.
5. Opting out in ‘14 and re-upping with Miami for more cheddar would be too easy.
James started this dramatic, free agent roller coaster max-money players enjoy now. He better not leave us hanging come free agency and do the easy thing by re-signing with the Heat. The op –out clause and mega luxury tax increases lurking could be a saving grace for Cleveland. Maybe Miami won’t be able to afford him. We need more suspense. Maybe even another “Decision.” But this time it’s on the sands of South Beach and LeBron says: “I’m taking my talents and my three chips back to the hood.” That would be a mythical ending to James’ storied career. It just feels right, like when EPMD got back together for some Unfinished Business. When NWA came together for the “Up in Smoke Tour” and Eazy-E’s son was doing his parts. It makes sense and it’s easier to stop and mend a broken fence when you have already built a castle.