How things have changed. Several weeks ago we had guys like Colin Cowherd stating that Kevin Love would be leaving Cleveland, that Lebron James had to be reconsidering his decision to return and that David Blatt was a dead man walking.
Bill Simmons seemed to lose all perspective as he questioned whether Lebron was still the same player and whether this team could ever play together. He freely took shots at Love and Kyrie Irving. With Love there were obvious struggles (hardly surprising) while with Irving he was completely ignoring how Kyrie had embraced playing defense along with Blatt’s leadership.
Smart analysts, however, looked at the trades made by David Griffin and realized that they had made some very smart adjustments.
The journey begins tonight, and Nike kicks it off with a pretty awesome Lebron James commercial focused on the city of Cleveland.
Lebron has been all business so far and has focused more on the challenges ahead versus the idea of being home. But with this ad he reiterates the ultimate goal – a championship for the city of Cleveland.
Bill Simmons returned from his ESPN suspension with his annual NBA rankings, and this comment caught my attention:
[E]very 2015 Cavs home game is going to be appointment viewing. Even the ones against Philly and Utah. Everyone forgets how fantastic their home games were in 2009 and 2010, how much energy ripped through that building every night, and how LeBron always seemed to feed off his hometown peeps. They went 39-2 at home in 2009 with inferior talent, a clueless coach and a roster that couldn’t do 40 percent of the stuff that this 2015 Cavs team can do. These LeBron 2.0 home games are going to be a borderline religious experience. I really believe that. It’s just one of many reasons why they’re our 2015 League Pass champs.
The “clueless coach” line cracked me up. I still can’t believe I actually supported the idea of Mike Brown coming back here in 2013. While he was clueless in 2009 as Simmons pointed out, some of us didn’t realize just how bad Brown could be as a head coach until last season, which is one of the worst coaching jobs I’ve ever seen in Cleveland (and that’s saying something!).
In his article, Simmons also raves about David Blatt, so let’s hope he’s right about that one. So far Blatt is living up to his reputation as an innovative coach.
Lebron James is coming home. Looking back now, the signs have been there for a long time that this is what he wanted, but that didn’t make the process any less dramatic, particularly in the last several days when panic started to set in for Cavs fans as James delayed his latest decision.
His letter in SI struck the perfect tone, and was much better than contrived public apologies from him and Dan Gilbert. Also, the context made this easier for me and some Cavs fans. Lebron had a mixed record in Miami despite winning two championships, and is leaving the team whose best days were clearly behind it.
I actually enjoyed the free agency process. I knew a return would be great for the Cavs, the city of Cleveland and Lebron, but I also wasn’t holding my breath. If Lebron made the wrong decision again, that was his problem, and the Cavs were set up with a young and talented team with Kyrie locked up for a long time.
But this time Lebron did make the right decision, and he did it with class. He’s created a path for himself that can now lead to a legacy he can be proud of.
Some national reporters are saying this morning that winning a championship in Cleveland isn’t important, but that’s just foolish. Things will get tough again if the Cavs falter, particularly if Lebron buckles when the pressure to win ramps up. But I don’t expect him to falter. Lebron has made it clear that winning at least one championship is critical, and he has embraced that challenge. It’s no longer a burden dumped on his shoulders – it’s mountain he has chosen to climb. That makes this decision even more impressive. Welcome home.