LeBron James is a bigger man than most of us, and I’m not talking about those broad shoulders that house an NFL linebacker masquerading as an NBA superstar.
LeBron’s capacity for forgiveness sets him apart. LeBron is back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he will be under the employ of Dan Gilbert. Dan Dilbert is more like it.
The Cavaliers owner famously unveiled himself as a buffoon when LeBron bolted for the Miami Heat four years ago, writing a letter to Cleveland fans guaranteeing a Cavs’ NBA title before LeBron’s first championship and calling LeBron’s exodus “cowardly betrayal” and “shameful display of selfishness,” “shocking act of disloyalty” and “heartless and callous action.”
Now the same free will that prompted LeBron to leave Cleveland has brought him back. If LeBron had four ounces of revenge in his body, he would have called a July 1 press conference to announce that he was indeed set on returning to the Cavaliers, planned to play out his career there and bring the long-awaited title to his beloved northeast Ohio. On the condition that Dan Gilbert sells the franchise before opening day.
That would have been rich. It also would have been wise. Not for LeBron’s reputation, which has been restored after the disastrous public relations of the “taking my talents to South Beach” night. But for LeBron’s basketball future.
No amount of forgiveness can wash away Gilbert’s ineptitude as an owner. The guy doesn’t know how to run a basketball franchise.
Coaches come and go. General managers get fired in midseason. The Cavs over the previous four NBA Drafts have had five top-four selections, including three overall No. 1 picks. And despite LeBron’s return, Cleveland still might not have enough talent to win the Eastern Conference. Kyrie Irving was a home run pick. We’ll see on Andrew Wiggins. But Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, taken with picks that could have built a powerhouse sans LeBron, are reminiscent of the talent level LeBron left behind in Cleveland the first time.