HE had to leave home to find his way back. I was among those millions who were turned off big-time when LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami. Now I applaud him for taking a courageous decision that was less about basketball and money than about a man looking for that one place on earth where he feels he truly belongs.
To put away all the hard feelings, vitriol and bad blood engendered by his departure four years ago, and make up with the boss who had publicly vilified him, that takes humility and guts. That LeBron has overcome all that to reach this moment in his life is remarkable and truly commendable.
He may not end up giving the Cavaliers the championship they so desperately crave, but trying alone is enough. This career decision, unlike the first, is a slamdunk. But if he had not packed his bags for Miami in the first place, neither he nor Cleveland would have truly appreciated what each lost that one bitter summer.
Here are the five things we’d like to see now that LeBron James has decided to move back to his mother, er, Cleveland.
1. Love letter from Dan Gilbert – When James left for Miami four years ago, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert did something that a jilted lover might be expected to do: he wrote what amounted to a hate mail. During his rant, Gilbert railed against the "cowardly betrayal," "shameful display of selfishness" and "shocking act of disloyalty" of the "self-titled former king" – who the team owner, incidentally, only once addressed by name. Well, that messy divorce is now finally behind them, and just like Liz Taylor and Dick Burton they’ve decided to give marriage another chance. Can love be lovelier the second time? A letter from the boss can help revive the magic of a young man’s first love. "Oh God, how I missed you…." would be a good start.
2. Statue of the ‘King’ – Remember how angry fans lit up Cleveland and parts of Ohio upon learning LeBron was taking his game to South Beach? They burned an effigy of James and made a bonfire of his No 23 jersey. How can they undo that now? They can erect a statue of him in his Nike sneakers in Cleveland, of course. Michael Jordan has one in Chicago. And Michael Jackson – yes, the King of Pop – once had his image and the white glove enshrined at Fulham’s football ground in London. True, James hasn’t won anything with the Cavaliers. That could soon change. For now they can just inscribe the word “Witness” in the monument.
3. Thrash-talking with D-Wade and Chris Bosh – Are you wondering what would the Big Three say to each other once they meet as rivals on the court? Wade probably won’t be asking: "I thought we were going to win seven titles in Miami?" And James probably won’t be saying in return: "Call me when you’ve got your knee fixed." Remember that these are good friends who fought so many battles together. They respect each other. However, they’re also fiercely competitive on court.
4. Fist bumps with Varejao – It’s a different Cleveland team that James is going home to. New coach, new teammates. The only player from his past who would be welcoming him back is Anderson Varejao. The Brazilian was one of the more energetic and exciting Cavaliers during the pre-Decision era.
5. NBA championship – There’s no guarantee of this happening, of course. Even James admits as much. Tim Duncan and the Spurs beat Miami black and blue even when James had Wade and Bosh alongside him. How can he hope to fare better with the current Cavaliers? Akron is no Hollywood, of course. But a story such as this deserves a happy ending. Complete with fireworks and champagne – or Gatorade.
[Editor's note: Gabby Alvarado is the Filipino sports editor of the Hong Kong newspaper The Standard]