The prodigal King returns

LeBron is headed back to Cleveland:

This return can bring a whole crowd of fans to reconciliation with LeBron. Might that be difficult? Perhaps, for some.

But LeBron is not just a great player. He now also seems to have greatly matured.

It should be a good sign for the Cavs that LeBron didn’t make a huge TV spectacle. It should be a good sign that he told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins first, rather than ESPN.

ESPN does what they do well, but it’s the “entertainment” part of their name that reveals why making that decision the same way twice (albeit in different directions) would have been a bad idea. In fact, the cable news programs were a big part of what fueled the hype behind this decision, and the one LeBron made four years ago.

It’s not exactly the story of the prodigal son, but LeBron realized a number of things. His reasoning is sound, and it’s obvious he’s grown up since “The Decision.”

What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?

He has realistic expectations:

I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach.

I’m not a Cleveland fan. I wasn’t a LeBron fan. Yet I couldn’t help but smile at the end of the piece:

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. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.

I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.

So, order is restored. Cleveland gets the King back, and he plays close to home once more. So what moves happen now, in the wake of this decision? Here are some tentative questions so far, though all of this is of course subject to change given the free agent free-for-all:

  • Chris Bosh to Houston? (seemingly the most certain of all of these questions)
  • Chandler Parsons’ offer sheet is in from the Mavericks. Will the Rockets match?
  • Jeremy Lin to the Lakers? (to make room for Bosh to sign with Houston)
  • Carmelo Anthony could stay in New York, but now he may choose to go elsewhere.
  • Dwayne Wade is another big question mark. Can the Heat keep Wade? They’d have to try to make a number of moves or overpay (which they have plenty of money to do), but losing LeBron and Bosh makes it certain they won’t be anywhere near they were talent-wise this year.

Dan Johnson is editor-in-chief of Three for Ten Sports and former managing editor of The Collegian at Grove City College.

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