Once again, LeBron James has captivated the sports universe by simply letting us all know that he might be changing teams. Last time he swapped zip codes, he made a mockery of the process, cementing himself as the most widely-hated superstars of his generation.
This time around, he has the chance to build on the little goodwill that two championships and four straight finals appearances have earned him. However, turning back around and signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers would do the exact opposite.
The thing about his first foray into free agency was that it wasn’t his skipping town on Cleveland that rubbed so many the wrong way — it was how he did it. Sure, labeling their hate by saying it was because James opted to create a super team was a convenient thing to do, but if he didn’t make such a spectacle of leaving town, the rest of the country wouldn’t have hated him. That honor would have only belonged to Cleveland.
The Decision didn’t show us that LeBron was a bad person, or that he didn’t have the character to see things through in Cleveland. What it showed us was that he has a hard time understanding how the public perceives him.
If he thinks that going back to Cleveland will make everyone forget about the move to the Miami Heat and all the bad blood that followed, then he hasn’t learned anything from his past experiences with how the media will portray him. If he goes back to Cleveland, it will look like he went back with his tail between his legs now that things aren’t looking so sunny in South Beach.
The only way for LeBron to achieve both his goals to compete for titles and win over some public sentiment will be for him to stay in Miami. Any other move will look like he is just spending his career chasing championships rather than earning them.