FROM A REAL HEAT FAN: How I felt when LeBron James left
15. July 2014
I found out when I was in the most vulnerable position a man could be in. In the bathroom, on the toilet doing morning routine things. The sports media landscape had been so full of false reports and ridiculous speculation that I honestly thought it was fake when I first saw it tweeted. Tweeted like it was special report on gluten free cooking or something. Then I saw the Twitter reaction. The avalanche of NBA bloggers in sheer disbelief. Some making jokes and some just responding in the easiest and yet most meaningful way they could with simply, “wow.”
Chris Bosh had already stated that he would be on his way to Houston if LeBron were to leave Miami. The realization of the worst case scenario began to fall over me. This could all be over. The roller coaster of emotion had begun.
I was shocked, then angry, then depressed, then shocked again followed by more anger and you can imagine how this went. I didn’t initially understand why he would want to leave. I looked for every excuse I could. I blamed his wife. I blamed his mom. I blamed his agent and still do. I wanted to pin it on Miami’s hispanic culture for a little bit as I know that some people from up north don’t take to it so well. I didn’t even want to read his letter or the article or anything even remotely related to why he had left. Watching ESPN was out of the question. Everyone so happy he was going home to Cleveland with absolutely zero thought to how Miami felt about “The Departure.” We show up late to games, so what?! Come playoff time you can’t find a seat! That’s what really matters here. No one cared though. Everyone was happy he was leaving. Everyone except Miami and our beloved Miami Heat.
We had defended him from day one. Never slandered him. Labeled media pundits as outright haters because they weren’t happy for our success. We were greedy about it and we didn’t care because we loved him. Battled a small country worth of internet trolls because he was one of us now. The Heat had given him what he wanted; two championships attached to two finals MVPs and four straight trips to the NBA Finals. One of only three franchises to ever do so. A 27-game winning streak that would go down as the second longest in NBA history. Still, this wasn’t good enough for him. Living in this tropical paradise with everything he had ever wanted in his career wasn’t good enough for him.
The thing that really bothered me, even after the Miami Heat had been able to hold on to Chris Bosh while bringing Wade back, is how he left us with nothing. When LeBron decided to leave Cleveland back in 2010, a sign and trade took place that gave the Miami Heat LeBron James and netted the Cavaliers this:
-The option to swap 2012 first-round picks (not exercised).
-A 2012 second-round pick that eventually went to Dallas, who used it on Jae Crowder.
-A 2013 first-round pick that eventually went to Golden State, who used it on Nemanja Nedovic
-A 2011 second-round pick that turned into Milan Macvan.
-A large trade exception.
And, most importantly, a future first-round pick that is top-10 protected in 2015 and 2016 and unprotected in 2017 if it isn’t sent Cleveland’s way by then.
Now, for him to “go home,” he leaves us with nothing. Even worse, he leaves us with unpaid debt. At a time when we need those picks the most. That is the part that left me most upset. Yes, the Miami Heat were able to obtain the ultimate goal. On the verge of an NBA dynasty with an Eastern Conference dynasty already in place, the 2010 move was looked at a complete success. As a fan, I had everything I wanted. I thought it was everything LeBron wanted too. I was wrong. We were all wrong down here.
Another thing that vexed me, was how he could go play for Dan Gilbert again. The man who called him narcissistic and a coward. The man who treated him like property. How could he go play for him again? How could he put millions of dollars into a man’s pockets that didn’t have the balls to apologize and bury the hatchet with him over his four years in Miami? Funny how all of a sudden Dan was all apologetic. Now when it is most advantageous to him. Now when LeBron James is available to fill his pockets. Now when it is to his benefit. Not before. Now.
I understand wanting to go home. Some people have a connection with where they are from that can never be broken. It is interlaced within them and part of them always. I have that same connection with Miami. I get that. So, I eventually just realized that we wanted to go home. I just dismissed the whole thing as him growing up a Cavaliers fan, being from that area, his wife being from that area, his agent being Cleveland based, all his friends being from that area as the reason why he wanted to go back. That was my reasoning. I was content with that. We have our Chicago born hometown hero and our Texas import that loved everything about our city. This is what we got. I am ok with it. We will be in the mix next year and now we have the chance of possibly sending Cleveland home early. I love you LeBron, but I really dislike your owner and I’m not to fond of your flip-floppy fan base in Ohio either. Hated you when you left, and now it’s ok because they have you to make magic for them again. Fake love is what it is.
Now speculation has begun. Media clamoring for a reason for him to have hated it here. Something for them to point to as the reason he left. Something other than my “he justed wanted to go home” scenario. With reports that Savannah and his mother weren’t really pushing him back to Cleveland at all. That his entourage, or “La Familia” as he dubbed it, were more the ones looking for him to return. A case of what seems like wanna be big fish realizing how small they really are outside of their small pond of northeast Ohio. LeBron a global icon living the dream while they find themselves irrelevant outside of Akron.
Fingers now being pointed at Riley’s press conference, Wade’s “maintenance” program, Mike Miller’s amnesty, Spo’s finals tactics against the Spurs, no good pizza around LeBron’s Coral Gables home, anything and everything that may have possibly went wrong when it is all irrelevant now. The reality is here. The king is gone. An era we were lucky to have is over. For four short years Miami was the center of the basketball world. Like the saying goes, basketball never stops and so we will endure and move on. Chris Bosh and Miami Heat have work to do. In the end, we will all look for a Flash from the past to keep the party going on South Beach.
NOTE: This post may read as biased. It is a true statement of how I felt at the time of LeBron James’ decision to leave the Miami Heat. It is my personal thoughts and opinion.