We often define moments in sports as what is right or what is wrong with sports, and generally we fall on one side of a perspective that can be attributed to our own personal circumstances. Once in a great while a story comes along that transcends our personal views and fandom, and crosses the gentle border that separates the fantasy world of sports and the rest of life. Of course I am referring to the home coming of Lebron James back to his home town Cleveland Cavaliers. James announced his plans in an essay so well crafted that it will become mandatory reading in my home as my children come of age and start to realize the gravity of major life decisions. The Decision 2.0, as it has come to be known, held hostage the entire sports community for the better part of the summer and could not have culminated in a better story.
Personally I tend to root heartily for my home town Denver sports teams, but in basketball where the stars have perhaps the most influence in any sport, I find my self rooting for individual greatness above an individual team. Part of rooting for greatness includes following a legacy and the most interesting story line. My journey started as a huge fan of Magic Johnson his play was amazing, but the status he held and still holds today in the Los Angeles community may be his true lasting legacy. Magic then passed the torch to Michael Jordan, who as we all know became a global icon for greatness and winning. Jordan's greatness was so immense that he has left shadow that has eclipsed all those who have followed him. As Jordan's on court prescence ended, a larger than life character came on to the scene in Shaquille O'neal as he dominated the NBA like no other big man in history. The only thing bigger than Shaq was his personality, and his success on the court yielded him to become an icon for the best part of sports, the fun. Shaq in an ironic twist of fate was eclipsed by his former running mate on a journey often looked down upon by the general public. Kobe Bryant has never been loved like the other men in this tale but his greatness can never be denied. 5 rings, and a killer instinct maybe only shared by Jordan, sets Kobe apart in the annals of NBA superstars. Finally we get to the man of the hour Lebron James, who while everyone was looking in denial became perhaps the greatest all around basketball player the world has ever seen. No one is on par with Jordan as far as championship pedigree and pure basketball scoring talent are concerned, but today's decision by Lebron James gives him an attribute that defies comparisons and transcends on court performances.
The going home story is so cliché and yet it tugs at so many heart strings and for a brief moment I even found myself jealous of Cleveland sports fans. A more magnanimous outcome could not have been reached and despite future results Lebron's legacy will forever be cemented as a champion who followed his heart and truly cared about his home town. No doubt his coffers will be filled with all the gold a player of his ilk deserves but to have the desire, nay the audacity to be the greatest player in the world and to choose to play for the oft inept and usual dumpster fire that is the Cleveland Cavaliers is truly remarkable. Give me greatness, give me interesting, give me story, but most of all give me something memorable. Moments on the court will accumulate and while remembered, individual moments will mostly be grouped with other individual on court moments and thus it is many of the off court moments for our stars that gave the greatest meaning. Magic announcing his diagnosis, Jordan's retirement and subsequent return, Shaq's personality, Kobe overcoming adversity and chasing legacy from side kick to super hero, and now King James and his return to Cleveland. And not only the return itself, but the way he crafted his words to ingratiate an entire sporting audience around the country is what will be truly memorable. To quote the King, "I accept the challenge." Goose bumps people, goose bumps.
Lebron's Announcement Essay
- LeBron James announces return to Cleveland Cavaliers - NBA - SI.com
LeBron James explains to SI's Lee Jenkins why he's returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers after spending four seasons with the Miami Heat.