LeBron James is king of the sports world right now, even though he is an incorrigible egomaniac. His story of redemption played out last week like a bad movie, from his clandestine meetings and painful goodbyes to his heartwarming decision to return to Cleveland.
Ultimately, the best basketball player on the planet decided to go home to the Cavaliers because he wanted some redemption after his controversial move to Miami four years that led to two NBA championships and a deluge of criticism. He really missed Cleveland, or so the script said.
Meanwhile, Cleveland really missed him, too. In fact, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert so regretted the angry letter he posted after James’ departure that he flew his own private jet to Miami 10 days ago to apologize to James. Cue the violins.
Within a week, James disclosed his decision in Sports Illustrated magazine, much to the acclaim of everybody but the fans in Miami. It was time to come home, sweet home. Pass the tissues. Now roll the credits.
The only problem with this story is that every part of it is bunk. James didn’t miss Cleveland; no one ever misses Cleveland. He had just lost the NBA title in Miami because Dwyane Wade got old and because Chris Bosh wasn’t good enough anymore, and the because the Cavs offered him a contract with an opt-out clause after one season. The grass wasn’t greener in Cleveland; his new teammates and his deal were better.
As for Gilbert, who called James’ decision to leave a “cowardly betrayal,” timing is everything. If the owner really felt so terrible about his highly accurate statement of four years ago, why did it take until last week to remove it from the Cavs’ website? Could it possibly be because James wasn’t a free agent until now, and there was nothing to gain?
And let’s not leave out the cute new way James decided to hand down his momentous decision – with his own bylined article in SI. How big a narcissist do you have to be to avoid a simple news conference in favor of TV specials and exclusive magazine articles? Who named him the king of sports?
Well, actually, that’s the problem. Even though he just lost the NBA title to an old San Antonio team, he has been empowered by people always kissing his rump. Owners will fly a thousand miles to apologize to him. National magazines will drop to their knees and beg for an exclusive. Fans will buy his new Cavs jersey four years after burning his old one.
For the critics in the crowd, the LeBron James story did offer a delicious final twist. His happy ending landed him right back in Cleveland. The biggest egomaniac in sports is headed back to America’s ugliest city. It’s the feel-good story of the summer.