The decision was always his,although we thought it was really ours. Ten million people sat ready to hear what had been speculated on for the last two years. Where will LeBron James play next season? Finally the answer came; he was going to play for the Miami Heat. Just like that everything was turned upside down in the NBA and in Cleveland.
In the days to follow, the backlash would intensify. How could LeBron do that? No matter how many rings he gets, he’ll never be able to pass Michael Jordan as the greatest player ever. He took the easy way out!In response, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert publicly shamed him, accusing him of quitting in multiple games against Boston and Orlando the year before The decision was called narcissistic, arrogant, and in bad taste. Everyday we read new articles questioning LeBron’s heart.
We all knew what he should do. The problem is we forgot it was ultimately his decision. The reason that this hoopla even came to be was due to LeBron’s wanting to have full control over his future. He wanted the final say. Why then would he forfeit that to fair weather fans and fickle media? The media that’s now calling him narcissistic and spoiled is the same media that placed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated during his sophomore year of high school. That same ESPN, who decided to air "The Decision," criticized the television special as over the top. Over the top was when ESPN made his high school games a larger than life event. The first nationally televised high school games were St. Mary St Vincent’s on primetime ESPN. They proclaimed him "King" before he graduated high school. He had an authorized autobiography at 18 years old.You get the picture?
LeBron repeatedly said he would do what he felt was best, and would make him happy. Did he sacrifice greatness for happiness and the easy road to championships? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Before we can crucify LeBron, we must decide once and for all what we want to see LeBron become; the reincarnation of Michael Jordan or do we want to see LeBron James become LeBron James?I’ve heard the "he sacrificed his greatness’ argument over and over. Well I’m not too sure about that; I believe the greatest talents find a way to shine through. We still call Isaiah Thomas one of the greatest guards to play the game, Bill Russell is considered one of the best big men in history and Larry Bird is one of the undisputed greats, yet all three of these players played on highly regarded championship teams.Perhaps if this move had taken place in the second year of LeBron’s career we could talk about his growth being stunted, but the fact of the matter is that he has consistently improved. LeBron has won Rookie of the Year, made the playoffs six straight years, made the All-Star team seven times, won the NBA scoring title, made the All-Defensive team, and the All-NBA team. He also appeared in one NBA Finals came second in the voting for Defensive Player of Year twice, and most notably, won two consecutive Most Valuable Player trophies. This has been over his first seven seasons. LeBron has proven his ability and individual talent.
For what those milestones may be worth, the fact still remains that,championship rings don’t come as a result of all the individual accolades accrued at season’s end.
While he was with Cleveland, we admitted LeBron didn’t have enough help(yet when he opts for the most available help we cry that it’s too much talent on one team). So-called basketball purists tell us that "it’s not fun basketball to watch."
Having been in front of the camera since the ripe old age of 16 LeBron understands the media’s Tetris-like tactics of building you up to break you down. People will say that despite all of his individual "greatness," he lacks the ability to get his team over the hump; that he has to learn to how to win on the biggest stages. With this in mind, LeBron tuned everyone out. He decided to have his cake and eat it too. If the hate was coming no matter which way he turned, why not choose the road most appealing? The road that has palm trees, two of his closest friends joining him, a chance to win multiple rings and the opportunity to redefine "greatness".
There are two things we’ve learned about LeBron by now. He loves to win and he loves to have fun with his teammates while doing it. With that in mind, would he really pass up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play championship-caliber basketball with his closest friends?
With the promise of not one but seven rings, a chance to define his legacy, and his 10 million witnesses now playing the jury, LeBron has called this the "road to greatness." That was his decision. Now what’s yours?