I have a ton of respect for Charles Barkley as a basketball television analyst (except for when he doesn’t know half the rosters of bad teams in the league, but whatever), but I think his prediction that LBJ will go back to the Cavs, which Barkley says he’s “always thought,” is simply wrong.
Important side note: I usually hate this kind of speculation before the playoffs are even over, the same way that I think that coverage of the 2016 presidential candidates in 2014 is beyond stupid. But this instance also touches on some other stuff, so it’s worth writing a piece about.
Why won’t LeBron return? Here’s why:
More specifically, here is why.
(Let’s just take a second to laugh at Dan Gilbert for how mind-numbingly stupid his predictions often are. Not only did he say that he expected the Cleveland Cavaliers to make the 2014 playoffs, yet they missed it in the JV Eastern Conference, but he actually said that his Lebron-less, dog shit team would win before LeBron, Wade, and Bosh would in Miami. Next, I hope he predicts that Kobe will become a superstar again. That’ll be the end of the Black Mamba.)
To start, the way that the Cavs fans acted towards LeBron was ridiculous. I realize it’s hard for fans of a cursed sports city like Cleveland to realize this, but the hatred really was just stupid. No player, no matter how amazing of a body he was gifted (that got weirdly sexual, no?), has to stay in a city just because fans want him to. By NBA rules, LeBron had to play 5 years in Cleveland, and he played 7, despite GM Danny Ferry surrounding him with such a terrible supporting cast that they gave me a call back in 2008 after Paul Pierce ended their season. (Excuse to post a link to this. Orgasmic.) But fine, I guess we can get past that, because they’re fans, and fans will be irrational, especially if they’ve been beaten down so much by the rest of Cleveland sports.
But even if LeBron gets over the stuff with the fans, I don’t think he’ll get over Dan Gilbert acting like a child who didn’t get what he wanted on his birthday. And, while I’d never say what anybody “should” do with his personal life — that would make me just as bad as the fans I just criticized — I hope that LeBron doesn’t forget about that.
The spoiled brat on his birthday analogy is probably too nice. This isn’t a fun debate to have, but it bears saying: I’m a white American male, meaning that I’m among the least discriminated against people of all time, and even I thought there was a racial aspect of Gilbert’s ridiculous letter. It’s impossible to know exactly what’s inside someone’s head, which is why I debated for 5 minutes whether to write this paragraph. But, racial or not, it’s clear that Gilbert felt that he not only owned the Cleveland Cavaliers, but owned LeBron James. If I was LBJ, that’s not something I’d forget. And I don’t think that he will.
Where will LeBron go? I don’t see why he’d leave Miami. But that kind of speculation isn’t necessary here. What is important now is jus the a little bit of perspective surrounding LeBron’s history with the Cavaliers organization. And I think the history prevents him from returning.