A combined 82 points from LA’s big three wasn’t enough as the Lakers went down in a heartbreaking 3OT defeat: 141-137.
Home. It’s a common theme in life, whether we are searching for one, making a new one or looking to head back to one. Australia woke up on Saturday morning to the news that LeBron James had announced he was returning back home, choosing the Cleveland Cavaliers as his 2014-15 NBA team.
It’s been four years since LeBron left Cleveland for Miami in the infamous “Decision” and in his essay posted on Sports Illustrated’s website he goes on to explain that returning back to Cleveland has been in his heart and on his mind ever since he left.
“Remember when I was sitting up there at the Boys and Girls Club in 2010? I was thinking, This is really tough. I could feel it. I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating,” LeBron wrote.
Further on he goes to say that if he had to do it over he still would have left for Miami, but the overriding theme of the letter is that Ohio is a big part of him and he wanted to come home.
When the 2014 NBA Free Agency period began no one seriously expected such a dramatic change in the NBA landscape would occur. The Miami Big Three opted out of their contracts early but no one was shocked about this given there was talk about reduced salaries and sacrifice.
The NBA community lay waiting for any news about their intentions, and everything seemed like it was just going to return to normal. LeBron was fishing with his son, Chris Bosh was in Africa on holidays and it seemed like Miami would sign some big names and everyone else would scramble for the leftovers.
Then things got a little weird. Reports came in that there was a breakdown in communication between the Big Three and one by one all the free agents that would have fit in Miami slowly disappeared.
Rich Paul, LeBron’s agent, started meeting with teams but most passed this off as a marketing ploy to get the agency that LeBron has an interest in more exposure.
Still, time passed and there was no decision or announcement in sight. Then LeBron said that he was seeking a max contract and everything changed. This would mean Bosh and Dwayne Wade would have to take significant pay cuts to accommodate LeBron and some upgrades to the roster.
Rumblings about Bosh seeking a deal elsewhere started to surface and then the conspiracy theories popped up like crazy. Dan Gilbert’s plane was being tracked mid-air on its way to Miami, LeBron’s cars were being transported, calls to Ohio police from LeBron’s people were being reported, sentimental photos were taken with his old high school teammates and wild speculation about design changes to his personal website.
Even after the lacklustre signings of Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger it still seemed like we would wake up and the Big Three would get back together for another couple of years. No one seriously thought LeBron would go back to a team that was owned by the man who did this when he originally left for Miami.
He shocked the world yet again and now the NBA has been reborn with multiple possibilities, especially in the East.
With Carmelo Anthony signing back with the Knicks, Pau Gasol shifting over to the Bulls and some young, talented teams rising in the East, things are very interesting right now.
The Cavs’ roster right now has plenty of potential with a core of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett (reports are he is back in shape), Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao but this team won’t be contenders in year one with a rookie NBA coach.
What brings them down a few notches compared to what could have been in Miami is they won’t have an elite two-way system that LeBron had under Erik Spoelstra, and most of the Cavs’ roster aren’t good individual defenders, which makes it harder if there isn’t a solid defensive plan in place.
They have the potential to be a decent team in the long run but not straight away, and this opens up the East to some familiar faces.
The Bulls and Pacers would have to be favourites to be the top dogs with a trailing pack of the Cavs, Wizards, Nets, Heat, Hawks and Raptors all capable of putting together top seasons.
Remember when Michael Jordan went to play baseball and the entire league got really excited that someone other than the Bulls could win the title? Well, this is the exact same situation for the Eastern Conference.
I am excited for the refreshed Eastern Conference, as it brings some relevance to the regular season again. We won’t have another season where we just wait around for the NBA Finals to see if someone from the West can challenge Miami for the title.
Meanwhile, every contender in the West is licking their lips at what could be a walkover against whoever they play against in the NBA Finals. The Spurs, Thunder and Clippers must be loving this move by LeBron.
Now we just have to wait until late October for the next chapter to begin.