LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world.
He also may be the most scrutinized athlete in history. Like 2Pac said, all eyes are on him.
LeBron is criticized constantly. He was nailed during the NBA Finals in June after he cramped up when the air conditioning in San Antonio broke (to be fair, I critiqued him on Twitter that night as well). James has been slammed for passing the ball too much, for his jump shot and even criticized for his free throw shooting.
LeBron is criticized more than most politicians who flush taxpayer money down the toilet. It’s astonishing. He’s still criticized to this day for the “Decision,” when he said he’s taking his “talents to South Beach.” That was four years ago. Only LeBron seems to be held accountable for that length of time.
It’s time to move on because Friday, LeBron has defined his legacy on his own terms. He’s agreed to head back to his hometown team, the one he spurned four years ago, the team that drafted him, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James won two championships in Miami. He’s already won four MVP awards. His decision proves for him it’s not about the number of rings he wins it’s the elusive one for the city of Cleveland he seeks the most.
LeBron told Sports Illustrated:
When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.
Even more so, it’s about returning to his roots. For LeBron, this decision is bigger than basketball.
I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up.
And then there’s the Cleveland Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert’s infamous letter. When LeBron left for Miami, Gilbert called him “narcissistic” and “cowardly.” By returning to Gilbert’s team, James has proved himself to be the bigger man.
So, maybe, finally, the rest of us will just root for the guy that left the big city lights and the lure of South Beach to lay it all on the line for his hometown.
Well done, LeBron. Well done.