Would Cleveland fans accept a LeBron return?
Cleveland sports fans have been through so much.
Yet now the possibility exists that in a little more than a year the good and loyal supporters of Cleveland will be faced with the ultimate moral dilemma.
And the word dilemma is more than appropriate, because a dilemma, technically, is a choice between two difficult options. Or as the dictionary states “two equally undesirable alternatives.”
In 2014, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have gobs of salary cap space to pursue free agents.
It just so happens that is the same offseason when a certain someone who plays in Miami will be a free agent.
Which raises the very real possibility that Cleveland fans will have to decide if they want to welcome back the guy who gave them the ultimate dagger on a nationally televised show.
Cleveland welcomes back LeBron James?
As if these fans aren’t schizophrenic enough.
How much can one group be forced to accept?
But here’s the thing: Adding James back to the Cavs makes them an instant playoff team and title contender. Because James makes anyone a playoff team and title contender. Which presents the conundrum: Do fans prefer to wait while building, or do they want James back because it means wins. As the Damn Yankees might ask, is a soul worth the price of victory?
At this point this is all talk and speculation, but it’s talk and speculation that won’t go away. Not as long as the Cavs have the ability to sign James, not as long as James does not end the speculation by saying he’s staying in Miami (Seems folks in Cleveland can advise Miami that that is something that will not happen).
James himself was asked about this possibility a year ago, and he gave an answer that folks in Cleveland recognize because it does nothing to end guessing, and James seems like keeping people guessing.
"I think it would be great," James said. "It would be fun to play in front of these fans again. I had a lot fun times in my seven years here. You can't predict the future, and hopefully I continue to stay healthy. I'm here as a Miami Heat player, and I'm happy where I am now, but I don't rule that out in no sense.”
Maybe he wants to come back. Maybe he realizes the way he left was that wrong. Maybe he misses home. Maybe the Grinch is real. Maybe the Cavs know they really and truly need a guy like him to win. If you think about it, players like James come along once in a lifetime. To have a guy like that twice would shut Vegas down for weeks.
This is far more complex an issue than deciding what to do about Art Modell when he died.
Modell didn’t come back and re-purchase the Browns. All he did was die.
James would be returning and taking over the Cavs, physically and symbolically.
After everything that happened. And that everything is a long list.
- Game five vs. Boston.- The Decision.- That letter from Dan Gilbert.- Not taking the owner’s calls.- Quitness.- Taking the talents to South Beach.- Not four, not five …
And on and on and on.
Welcoming him back, cheering for him … that would take swallowing a whole basketball. Remember the venom when James returned to Cleveland with the Heat? Some of it might be gone by 2014, but not all of it.
This would be the ultimate test to see if time does indeed heal all wounds.
But … is all that offset by pure talent, by wins, by playoff appearances?
Fans might get a winner by welcoming back the guy who tore out their hearts. Is it better if he brings the “good job, good effort” kid?
The choice is plain: Live through the struggles of growth in building a new team led by Kyrie Irving, or go the fast route by adding one of the best players ever.
The result would be obvious: James would make any team better.
But at what cost?
Talk about dilemmas. The poor Cleveland fan has to feel like the Tasmanian Devil. Spinning and spinning and then stopping to see James gone, then spinning some more and seeing him back.
Little wonder they go back to spinning furiously.
What else is there to do?