Ohioans may be celebrating in the streets tonight after news broke this afternoon that LeBron James will be re-joining the Cleveland Cavaliers after spending four years in Miami. But they may be quick to forget how they behaved last time around.
Chaos in Cleveland
The supporters who ardently stood by their hometown superstar for seven seasons were unsurprisingly furious when LeBron James announced that he was headed to the warmer climes of South Beach to play for the Miami Heat.
Minor riots were reported and fans posted videos showing them burning their beloved James jerseys or writing "traitor" in tape.
Extra police patrols were ordered in Cleveland ahead of the ESPN broadcast of "The Decision" and arrests were made when some crowds got out of hand.
The fans weren't the only ones to react badly
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert posted a shockingly harsh open letter to the team's "former hero" on the night that James announced his move "with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up."
The letter went on to berate the power forward, calling him a deserter who committed a "cowardly betrayal."
"Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there. Sorry, but that's simply not how it works," the letter read.
"This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown 'chosen one' sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And 'who' we would want them to grow-up to become."
In one of the clearest indications that there was a concerted effort to pave the way towards more friendly relations, the Cavaliers decided to take the letter down from their official site on Monday, after leaving it up for nearly four years.
James clearly knew that the letter would become an issue and he addressed Gilbert's complaints in the Sports Illustrated announcement.
"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?" James wrote.
He was wooed over social media
His would-be teammates on the Heat gave him a much warmer reception and made their hopes of a "dream team" publicly known by dropping clues on Twitter.
On the first day of their collective 2010 free agency, Chris Bosh posted a photo of himself with Dwayne Wade on either side of an empty chair, and wrote in the caption that “it feels like someone is missing......”
The trio were all members of the same 2003 NBA draft class and were reportedly friends by the time it came for James to decide in 2010.
They went on to play together for the Heat for the subsequent four years, earning two NBA championships.
More demanding this time around
When James switched to the Heat in 2010, he agreed to sign a contract that did not pocket him the maximum salary that the league allows. This move was most likely a result of him accounting for the fact that the team would also be paying the salaries of Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, stars in their own right, so their budget would not have worked if he went for the max.
No such considerations are being taken this time: James is reportedly only considering offers from teams willing to give him the league-mandated maximum, which is said to be near $20.7 million.
LeBron's body was four years younger at the time
The self-titled King first earned national attention as a teen and he was named the national champion of high school basketball in 2003, leading to his No. 1 draft pick.
It is now 11 years later and the 29-year-old has played non-stop for enough time to slow his body down.
The constant stress put on James' body will inevitably lead to a shorter career than that of someone who played in college basketball, which, while taxing, would arguably be less stressful on a player's body than a professional schedule.
- Sports & Recreation
- LeBron James
- Cleveland Cavaliers