It’s a different LeBron James that’s coming back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Maybe still the best player in the NBA, but a little less arrogant, a bit more humble and much more focused about who he is and what he thinks his team is capable of doing. He’s not promising a never ending list of championships to the fans he’s returning to.
It would have been easy to create that kind of hype again. James is heading back to a Cavs team that has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to partner with him and create a big three. Depth isn’t too much of an issue, although the backup positions aren’t perfect. One might say that he’s in a better situation than he was when he first arrived at the Heat because of the age difference between the Love & Irving duo compared with Wade & Bosh.
James is asking for patience. He says that it’s the one biggest thing he’s learned from the four years in Miami, in which he led the Heat to four NBA finals, losing the first and last, winning a couple of titles in between that took so much burden and pressure off of his shoulders. Even though he was ridiculed, as NBA fans love to do, for getting ousted by the Spurs in five games, it wasn’t close to the reprimand and hatred he felt when the Dallas Mavericks dispatched of the Heat in 2011.
James knows it’s not about the names, but about creating a team, which is something that might take time. The Cavaliers have a lot of new faces coming in – A head coach who has never coached in the NBA before, not even as an assistant. Kevin Love, Shawn Marion, James himself, Mike Miller and maybe more. This is a new team, that might even get Ray Allen to join at one point.
Does this mean the Cavs get a little bit of slack from the media and fans if things don’t click right from the start? Probably not. It’s always about the edges, never the process or the in between. It’s either all in or out, win or lose, success or failure. I don’t think James is oblivious to the fact. I only think he’s much better prepared to handle that kind of criticism, if and when it comes at him and his teammates.
It’s time to stop focusing on the hair, the new shoes, the memes about air conditioning, cramps and #Lebroning. LeBron James is hitting another stride of his hall of fame career – coming back as a champion to the team he could never lead to that title, to a city he disappointed when he left to have glory somewhere else. He feels like he owes them something, but James also knows, as he felt it himself, that all the potential, promise and talent isn’t going to cut it if this group doesn’t form as a team by the time the prize is on the line.