When NBA commissioner Adam Silver uttered the words, “With the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Andrew Wiggins” back on June 26, the city finally had their latest basketball savior. The tank for Wiggins had made its final stop in Ohio to join what seems like a roster full of No. 1 overall picks. But on this night, the city didn’t care about the LeBron James rumors and the ever-continuing publicity surrounding Johnny Football. No. It was now Wiggins’ city, and Dan Gilbert had seemingly put his trust in the Canadian native to bring back the aura of basketball to Cleveland.
It’s crazy how much can change in the span of the three days it took for the start of free agency when Cleveland suddenly quit talking about their most recent top pick and focused on expending every speakable breath on speculating why King James will return to his vacant throne in Cleveland. Rightfully so, I must add. LeBron left Cleveland out to rot as he took his talent to South Beach and won two NBA Championships amidst four straight Finals appearances. With the world’s best player sitting fat in the middle of his prime, it’s completely understandable why Wiggins’ name hasn’t really been spoken of with the most anticipated free agency since ‘The Decision” part one taking place. But in the eyes and Adidas shoes of Wiggins, I wouldn’t want James returning to Cleveland before I am ever able to leave an impression on the city.
I know this seems crazy at first glance. Who wouldn’t want to play with the greatest in the world and likely win a championship or two along the way? Well, for a guy like Wiggins with such an endless ceiling and true superstar potential, LeBron returning home to finish out the last six, seven or eight years of his illustrious career would mean, for Wiggins at least, that during this time period he will always be put on the back-burner. It happened to a future Hall-of-Famer in Miami, so it would be mindless to think LeBron would share the spotlight with a guy who many have tried to compare him to.
So if “The Return” does play out in the fashion we are all starting to expect, this would mean that Wiggins, with one decision by a very good basketball player from Akron, would never get to experience what being the new “King of Cleveland” is like. In addition to the clear thought of Cleveland again being LeBron’s city, it wouldn’t even be a guarantee that Wiggins would come in as an immediate starter, or see significant minutes for that matter. Of course Wiggins is far too talented to take up a bench warmer role or anything, but for a guy who has expressed his desire to be the absolute best, being the second option for the first half of your career simply isn’t an attractive scenario to imagine.
I don’t want to be too pessimistic and say that Wiggins will have an in-house rivalry with LeBron if he were to return home. In fact, Wiggins has already let it be known that he would love to play with James, likely in some recruiting efforts. But in terms of what his legacy could potentially become, to be the best you have to beat the best, and watching the best in the world come in and steal the show and the city from under his feet just isn’t an idea that a guy who longs for stardom should be looking forward to.