Revisiting Lebron James' Decision

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As is almost universally known,  Lebron James’ decision to go to Miami and join his “superfriends” was not well received by Cleveland fans; with reactions including the burning of Lebron James’ jerseys, a venomous letter by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and even a local brewery naming its bitter beer flavor “Quitness”, a play on the “Witness” campaign that was used to try to lure Lebron, albeit sentimentally, back to the Cavs. 

In the immediate aftermath of the Lebron decision, there was round criticism about his choice to go and join Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in Miami.  The general opinion was that Lebron would be sacrificing his legacy by having to team up with other superstars to get an NBA title.  Lebron would not get his title on his own, as the centerpiece and “the man” on the team.  He would have to share the distinction with two other players.  Another criticism was that he gave up on Cleveland.  He had the chance to establish a legacy in Cleveland, where he was beloved by the fans as the local boy from Akron.  One title in Cleveland with him leading the charge would have sealed him as Cleveland’s biggest sports hero of all time, a title, which, by the way, he most likely already holds.  Just one title in Cleveland as the main option and team leader would have meant more than numerous titles as one of many options on another team. 

  A final criticism is that he is not going to be the man on his own team.  He is walking into Dwayne Wade’s team.  Dwayne Wade is the leader and Lebron is coming in as his sidekick.  His title wins would be diminished once again by not being the team leader. 

Of course, the way in which Lebron James handled his decision was also widely criticized, especially due to the insensitivity it showed to the Cleveland faithful.  But, what about the essence of the “Decision”?  After all the initial buzz has died down about the Lebron James move, is it really such a bad choice?  Let’s look at the facts of the situation:

  1. Lebron is not Michael Jordan.  In fact, his style of play is more like Magic Johnson and Dominique Wilkins rolled into one than it is Jordan.  He will enjoy dishing the ball to Wade and Bosh.

  2. With this trio it’s easy to envision annual parades in South Beach for the next 5-7 years.  Much like the 90s Bulls, it could end up just being a given that the Heat are going to be stockpiling some NBA rings.

  3. Lebron was not certain that he would ever win a title in Cleveland.  There is, of course, no certainty that he will win a title in Miami, but it’s much, much more likely. 

  4. Perhaps most significantly, Lebron probably wants to have fun playing basketball.  It will be fun taking the floor with other star players.  He also doesn’t have to have all of the weight of the franchise on his shoulders. 

  5. Kareem, James Worthy, Kevin McHale, Scottie Pippen and Robert Parish are all way more accomplished players than Bosh.  Kareem, of course, is an all time legend, but was past his prime when he played with Magic.  Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman and Bill Walton weren’t such bad players either.  It’s not as if Bird, Magic and Jordan won their titles “alone”. 

The general consensus seemed to be that it would be more noble for Lebron to stay in Cleveland and that a title there would be more meaningful than a title with other superstars.  However, Lebron is more concerned about what is than what could be.  He wants to see his dream become reality, and this is a lot more likely now than it ever was with the Cavs.   South Beach is probably also a lot more pleasant in the middle of winter than Northeast Ohio. 

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