Yeah, you read that right... changing my mind about LeBron James. I've been very clear on my unhappiness with the way LeBron James left Cleveland in 2010. I've been clear that it was absolutely his right to go play wherever he wanted and my biggest issue with him was the way he handled it. And I've also been clear that if he ever came back to Cleveland I would be done with the Cavaliers and the NBA. Today that changed so I figured I might as well eat a bit of crow and offer up my explanation...
The way he left in 2010 decimated the Cavs. DECIMATED the downtown businesses in Cleveland. And I'm not talking about the TV special, I mean leaving the Cavs hanging until the free agency period was so far gone the team became a train wreck. Yes, bad job out of Dan Gilbert for not having a Plan B but really, if he had no clue there was even a NEED for Plan B, that goes back to being on LBJ.
And frankly I've been a bit ticked (read: pissed off!) with the NBA itself for letting the Big Three happen. I felt it was bad for the sport and bad for all professional sports. Now, you know I'm absolutely totally 100% "Football Girl" so by saying I would give up being an NBA fan is no hardship on me and, frankly, no big deal to the NBA. I'm not their target audience. Been nice knowing you. Buh bye.
And then today LeBron James released his essay on the Sports Illustrated website and so many things changed....
#1 He didn't do it on his own private website as a means of self-promotion, he used Sports Illustrated, one of the oldest and most respected sports news sources out there
#2 He understands how things must have been for us on this side, the fan side, in 2010
#3 His reasons for leaving involved championships: his reason for coming back was about family, kids and Northeast Ohio... I was also afraid that the Cavs weren't ready for his return. First time head coach from Euro Leagues? Young players? No true "Big Man?" Too many questions that he couldn't come in here and fix all by himself. But he knows how to win and he knows how to lose, and more importantly he says he understands just how hard winning is and is willing to do the work, be a mentor, here in Cleveland. Huge.
So many other things stand out in his essay but these were the biggest for me - signs that he has grown into a man I could respect. That was missing in 2010. Now, don't get all up on your high-horse and start calling me out as a "Fair weather fan" or saying that "of course I'm back because the team will be great now" or any of that other nonsense. I'm back because LBJ has grown into someone I can Respect. And that matters to me.
As I read the part of the essay where he talks about Dan Gilbert and the fans, where he says:
That's what got me... it sent me back in time. I used to be the best Grudge Holder in Ohio... I'm a girl and I'm Irish, so I come by that talent naturally... but I reached a point about 5 years ago where I realized I needed to let things go. Not because holding grudges is bad, but because people can and do change. I remember myself in high school and then after college and then after having kids and I am so different now from any of those women, how can I not acknowledge someone's ability to change?
And that is what I will apologize to LBJ for; not believing that time would change him, that four years at "Miami U" could be like college was for most of us, for talking and tweeting in absolutes and now allowing for the possibilities. I expected that the LBJ who eventually returned would be the Home Town "Boy" from 2010. Instead, it looks like LBJ the Man v. 2014 is coming home. My bad, so that's on me and I'll own it.
I'm not saying all is forgiven, but I can find peace with the past and you should be able to do that too.