I was in utter disbelief when my wife called me up and told me that Lebron James was coming back to Cleveland.
This is after 4 years of constant booing, heckling, and jersey-burning antics of many Cleveland fans.
Let's go back to when he announced the move to Miami. I will be completely honest and tell you I didn't like the way it went down, but the fact is it was ultimately his choice. I don't think that anyone in their right mind would let someone else dictate their direction in life.
As I read his essay I gained a whole new respect for Lebron James, because he took a step back and looked at it from Cleveland's point of view.
Read James’ complete statement here via Sports Illustrated
“To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, “OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.” But then you think about the other side. 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”?
I can remember reading Dan Gilbert's letter in the newspaper. He raked Lebron over the coals and put fuel on the fire. He called Lebron a coward, ridiculed him, and actually made it hard for the Cavs to sign other players, at least in my eyes.
The point is that even through all the turmoil, hateful statements, and emotional visits to Cleveland within the last 4 years he was able to forgive, move forward, and return to the very place that hung him out to dry.
This goes back to my podcast in which I said family may give you a hard time when you are trying to start out on a venture. You have to understand their point of view while keeping your eyes on your game plan.
Do I like the way Lebron left for the Heat? No.
Was it Lebron’s choice to go? Absolutely. He was a grown man and had his vision.
But here is the bigger picture: Lebron James, who is still a human being, had the cojones to come back and be a man about it. He is a leader on and off the court in my eyes now, and that is a much bigger testament to his maturity than putting a basketball through a hoop.
Here is the part that hit me in the heart the most…
“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 will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.
But this is not about the roster or the organization. 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.”
Lebron James growth as a Leader
Lebron James does have a giant task ahead of him with such a young team, but he isn't afraid to work and help others in the process. A true leader is teacher, a mentor, a motivator.
I encourage each and every person to read this letter, because in it you not only see the growth of a human being, but the perseverance and gratitude of one as well.
Follow Lebron James on Twitter @kingjames
Donate to Lebron James Family Foundation
Welcome Home Lebron!