LeBron James is not immune from blame in regard to how his career went with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now that we know LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers once again but this time in favor of the Los Angeles Lakers, appreciation is definitely expressed. However, frustration and disappointment are as well.
James is the best player of this generation and having him in Cleveland as long as he was is great. More importantly and specifically though for the city of Cleveland, he led the Cavaliers when they won their first and only championship. Without him, there would not be a championship in the Cavaliers’ headquarters.
It is not every day that a LeBron James comes into the NBA. Knowing there won’t be another James, having seen what he achieved the way he did over the years in Cleveland was very exciting and impressive.
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That said, look at the circumstances in regard to Cleveland’s roster when he left both times. Cases can be made that one was worse than the other but for me when he left the first time, that roster was worse. Regardless, leading up to his decisions, adjustments could have been made.
James is in Los Angeles, chasing a ring in a city other than Cleveland. He is not a Tim Duncan or any other elite player who stayed with one team and won. It is what it is. That still does not take away what he achieved in Cleveland, which all Cavs fans should be appreciative of.
Although James and Dan Gilbert had their differences, Gilbert regularly paid into the luxury tax and added pieces that should have won more with James. Of course, though, his biggest mistakes were how he handled James leaving the first time (which they resolved) and moving on from David Griffin.
James meanwhile was a driving point in getting players deals that hampered financial flexibility which could have been spent elsewhere. One championship is great but given the circumstances, it would have been phenomenal had Cleveland won more than one by this point of James’ career.
In addition, seeing the four-year deal he signed in L.A. hurts knowing he would never commit in Cleveland, which is why he signed those one-year option deals. Those two issues are James’ biggest mistakes during his time in NEO.
James ultimately decided a change was best and I hope all goes well for him. Speaking of a change, it almost feels as though his comments about staying at home when he returned back to Cleveland was just an act. Regardless, circumstances change but I wonder if more effort was put in from James, ownership, and everyone in between, would he have re-signed?
I just don’t see him getting out of the west often or at all. I also don’t expect James to have the same impact out west like past Lakers greats. One day James is going to get his jersey retired in Cleveland as he should but until then, it is best to see him not suit up for the Cavaliers again.
The Lakers are trying to get to where the Cavs were, while James’ old team is reversing course. A new era of Cleveland basketball is coming but James’ impact on the organization will never be forgotten.