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Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 9:00 am  |  142 responses

LeBron James: ‘Not Impossible’ He Would Play in Cleveland Again


by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

During a business trip to England — there to check in on his investment stake in the Liverpool football franchise, and of course, to push Nike products — LeBron James sat down for a candid chat with The Guardian.

James opened up about the enormous pain caused by the Miami Heat’s collapse in last June’s NBA Finals, his regrets about how “The Decision” went down, and even said that one day playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers again isn’t entirely out of the question:

Can he understand why he was criticised by so many past great players who felt he had sacrificed his own legacy by linking up so calculatedly with Wade and Bosh – rather than trying to drive Cleveland to a championship? “Of course I understand that. But people talk as if I’m done. I’ve got years left to build my individual legacy – if that’s what they want to call it. But, right now, it’s all about my team’s legacy.”

Was James taken aback by the ferocious criticism of his screening of “The Decision”? “Um, yeah. I was surprised by it because I was making a decision for myself. I was doing something that I believed was going to make me happy and freshen me up. But looking back I can understand why a lot of people were upset. That definitely wasn’t my intention: to upset people.”

Did you feel vindicated by the way that Dan Gilbert [Cleveland's majority owner] responded? “I didn’t need that to vindicate my decision. I think Dan Gilbert was talking out of anger. And I don’t take anything personal. As a professional athlete a lot is going to be said about you – but I just try to move forward and try to achieve my goals.” You’ve been quoted as saying it’s not impossible you could play for Cleveland again?”It’s not impossible [smiling]” But unlikely? “It’s not impossible [laughs]. I still love the city. I have so many great memories of all those fans – so it’s not impossible.”

Years down the line, if by some miracle, LeBron ended up back in a Cavs uniform, I’d love to see the looks on the people’s faces who burned his jersey when he infamously took his talents to South Beach.

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  • Milan

    Full transcript of the interview was posted as well for anyone interested:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/nov/21/lebron-james-lockout-the-decision-interview?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

  • MUBWAR

    hahahahahahaha. that will be the day Dan isn’t there anymore

  • http://Zogs.ca Zogs

    Let’s be real, that would be like VC coming back to T.O
    -
    There’s noo wayyy Cleveland would ever want Bron Bron back, and if they ever did, Cleveland would be pronounced LeBrons B*ITCH

  • shutupallenp

    Cleveland would take him back like a jilted lover and cook him some tacos ala baby boy. difference is with vc hes outta the filling arenas with his athleticism faze and now he just jacks up ill advised shots on the regular, lebron is still on his way up, just like shaq said give him some time and hell be thinking the game instead of just playing it.

  • http://nba.com GP23

    Cleveland would take him back in an INSTANT lmao… but LeBron himself deciding to go back there?? No Way!! He will be a Miami Heat for the rest of his career now.

  • ClayDefayette

    I’d love to see LeBron back in Cleveland.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    I’m still convinced that when Lebron is able to cut his next deal, he’s going to be a Laker and then start working toward a career in movies/tv while he’s there. It’s the next logical step.

  • ripslam

    I doubt that LeBron will stay with Miami for the remainder of his career. However, a return to Cleveland seems just as unlikely.

  • http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/10/31/how-top-point-guards-in-the-pick-and-roll-are-defended-and-why/#more-16776 nbk

    The new CBA will ensure he won’t go back to any small market at any point in his career, unless he is traded and forced too.

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    Years from now ringless LeBron will go back to Cleveland. Dan Gilbert will play, “I’m coming home,” during the Cavaliers pre-game introductions at the Q in his first game back. **snaps pictures** ILLUMINATI!

  • DieselMechanic

    I believe him about the decision. Lol what a godawful idea that Decision.

  • jono

    He already said this before. Stop recycling articles Slam.

  • http://www.twitter.com/_dfrance dfrance21

    Cleveland AND Dan Gilbert would take him back in a heartbeat. And I think LeBron would go back, but not during his prime, it’d be a last ditch, about to retire, going home for two seasons affair.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    Lol could you imagine Dan Gilbert being like sorry mr James sorry.

  • tomtom

    I’m no Lebron fan, but i’m tired of the hate and think he is tremendously talented. However, he doesn’t do himself any favours by making ridiculous comments such as this one.

  • MaxIsNative

    Heard he’s going to the Spurs… Duncan told me.

  • LA Huey

    I can see him going back at the same point in his career as Drexler when he returned to his alma mater: Still a very good player but with his dominant years.

  • jayb

    lebron must be dilusional. i dont see him ever returning to cleveland sans as a visitor. dont see him stay in miami for his career and i can not see him go to the lakers of all places..it is kobe’s town and not big enuff for bron-bron ..sorry!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    If Lebron goes to the Lakers, it would be in about 4 or 5 seasons. Kobe would be on his way out…what a way for the Lakers to move forward then with a 31 year old Lebron playing for them.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    It is absolutely terrifying that he will only be 31 in 5 seasons (32 at the end of that season). Terrifying.

  • T-Money

    E: Yeah, I would doubt that Bron would play in Miami for the rest of his career. I can see one other stop in his career.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Man, make sure you read the longer version of the interview. LeBron calmly dissects the whole “on your own” argument by laying out exactly how much talent Magic, Larry and Jordan had on their teams. And yes, that talent was assembled by management, but it was clear that Cleveland wasn’t moving in that direction.

  • Youngindy21

    I don’t think Lebron will stay in Miami the rest of his career. After all it is not necessarily a given that he will win a championship in Miami. But his Breakup w/ Cleveland was pretty Nasty so it would kind of be awkward for him to return to Cleveland. I could see him going to a team that nobody really expects meaning NOT LA or NY towards the end of his career.

  • http://twelvepointcourier.blogspot.com/2011/11/int_20.html nbk

    Click my Name. Read this fictional scenario/conversation. There is actually some pretty good lockout information in here. And it’s entertaining.

  • Natty dread

    No way

  • http://nba.com GP23

    LeBron James wanted to lose the Finals this year (yeah I said it).
    Why is it that, LeBron James, the king of crunch time, cannot even get a single shot to go when given so many chances in game 5? It’s simple. If Heat wins, Wade gets the Finals MVP. LeBron James will be known as Wade’s Pippen in 2011 NBA Finals. Is LeBron okay with that? He claimed he is. I don’t think so. King James has been pampered as the next MJ before he even graduated from high school. Would MJ have settled for the second best player in the Finals? Definitely no. And I believe in James’ heart, he does not want to be the second best next to Wade.
    My take, LeBron James was mentally affected by the numbers in the first 4 games. Deep down, he wanted to lose. He was afraid, that if they win, he will be called Wade’s Pippen. His reputation as King James will be tarnished. That’ why I think he intended to lose game 5. Even if he did not intend to lose, he was hesitant to win.
    Sure, he had a triple double in game 5. But in the 7 minutes that Wade was out in the 3rd quarter of game 5, he took a total of 3 shots. He did not take over the game. Instead of doing what he do best, driving to the rim, he settled for 2 bad jumpers when the Heat needed him the most. That’s why he only had 2 free throw attempts in the whole game. Having 10 rebounds and 10 assists is impressive, but not scoring when it matters is puzzling.
    (I understand the hate I will get for this, but remember, I am a huge fan of LeBron, and i respect his game.. i just think this is a theory of mine that needed telling…. ignore me all you like. But it could be true.)

  • http://www.twitter.com/_dfrance dfrance21

    GP23 People called Lebron, DWades wing man, the minute he said he was going to Miami. Waaaaaay before game 5 of the Finals. I think if he had a problem being looked at as second fiddle, he wouldn’t have went there in the first place.

  • http://www.celtics247.com/2011/05/where-is-rondos-jump-shot/ nbk

    lol nobody who actually pays attention really thinks LeBron is the 2nd fiddle. I highly doubt he would purposefully lose. Especially just to ensure he is viewed as his teams alpha dog. If that’s what he was after he would have gone to New York, or stayed in Cleveland.

  • http://www.twitter.com/_dfrance dfrance21

    Off topic but, you think the NBA would ever consider raising the rim? Maybe to 11 feet?

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    It has been proposed, but it will probably never happen. It’s more fun to watch players dunk than it is to watch them shoot. Putting 12 more inches between the Rim and the Floor is not good for “fan appeal”

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    It sounds really f’d up what you just said but I’ve been on that bandwagon for a while GP23.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    BTW, ‘only 31′? Seriously, people will start raining down on him as soon as he has a bad game as a 31 year old, if he has a stretch of bad games, which NBA players have all the time people will claim he’s done. A 31 year old Kobe got questioned all the time. When you hit 30 your not young anymore in sports. Plus, with the way LeBron plays, same for Dwade, his 30′s probably won’t be easy on the eyes.

  • CubicleWorker

    Allenp the difference is this, when you claim you’re the king you act like a boss. Which means getting star players to come to you and holding it down for your team. Cleveland brought in Jamieson and Shaq, then eventually offered Bosh a max deal. If you’re the Chosen One you should have enough swag to get people to come to you. Jordan didn’t fail multiple times, then move to Boston to hook up with Bird, or LA to hook up with Magic.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I hope they don’t raise the rim.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Cubicle
    I would agree with your assessment if Cleveland had shown any ability to hand out good contracts, draft well or make good trades.
    Getting a washed up Shaq and an always overrated Jamison were not good moves. Trading for Amare would have been a good move.
    Bosh refused to sign in Cleveland because it’s Cleveland and he could get the same money to play in Miami with a superstar and without state income tax.
    LeBron gave Cleveland seven years. I would challenge all fans to honestly assess the teams draft record and free agent signings in those three years and decide if the general manager did a good job of assembling talent.
    The answer is obviously now.
    When you draft a superstar, it is the responsibility of the organization to surround him with talent through the draft and free agency.
    San Antonio did it. OKC has done it. Miami did it for a hot second with Wade. Chicago is doing it. Orlando has tried and failed.
    If you fail at doing your job as an organization, then I can understand why a player would leave. Personally, I wanted him to go to Chicago, but I wasn’t mad at all at him leaving.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    CubicleWorker, you don’t understand the difference between Cleveland and Chicago? Nobody wants to play in Cleveland. Everyone wants to play in Chicago. And a 34+ year old Antawn Jamison and a 37+ year old Shaq are not “star players,” Cleveland management did nothing to make anyone think they were capable of putting a long-term championship caliber roster around LeBron James. If you looked at the situation from purely a chance to win championships perspective, you know LeBron was leaving as soon as Dan Gilbert and the Cavs turned down the Amar’e Stoudemire trade. That pretty much put the stamp on LeBron’s play for anther team passport.

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    The Cavs had enough talent to win it all in the 08-09 season. They matched up very well with the Lakers and with KG out Boston wasn’t a big threat. Orlando had no business winning that series, it just came down to Lebron underperforming on the big stage. He can complain that he didn’t have a star player, but he did have a very deep team filled with role players who complemented his style; e.g. ball-dominant point forward. Mo Williams stretched the floor at the 1, and Big Z did the same at the 5, all to give Lebron lanes to drive into. But that is neither here nor there, Lebron can whinge about “help” all he wants, it’s in the past. As far as the Cleveland situation went down, if Lebron had handled the Decision a bit better and left the Cavs on better terms this could be a real possibility. Lebron takes a hiatus from Cleveland to chase rings in Miami whilst the Cavs rebuild through the draft. Three years later (when Lebron has the opt-out option) he returns with championship experience to lead the young core to the chip. Obviously, people would still be mad at him about this, but the city of Cleveland might feel a little bit better. The worst thing to happen to Cleveland was Lebron’s continued health. All it would have taken was one season-ending injury like Wades or Jordans or Griffins where it didn’t have long-term consequences and they could have drafted the help he needed. Sports are funny like that, sometimes you can have too much too soon and ruin the whole thing… realise I lost my point a while back, but just wanted to air some general Cleveland related thoughts. /rant

  • LA Huey

    I’m not trying to marginalize Wade’s ring but are you really going to compare that the dynasties the Lakers and Celtics had?

  • http://nba.com GP23

    Actually, the day LeBron announced he was changing his jersey number to ’6′ in a post-game interview for the Cavs, was when we all knew he was leaving. He already had it planned before the 2010/2011 season.

  • http://nba.com GP23

    *I meant during the 2009/2010 season.

  • LA Huey

    LeBron underperformed against Orlando? Are you kidding? Check his stat line for that series. Orlando won because Dwight caught fire from the free throw line, Rashard and Turk were match-up problems, and Mo got flaccid when the pressure was on.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    I don’t like Lebron (actually, I despise the guy), but he answered the questions well here,and to be honest, he sounds sincere. I know the Decision sucked and it was very poorly executed, but call me crazy, I actually think he learned from it. Also, LA fans would probably be confused about by having Lebron on their team after years of rooting against him in the Kobe/Lebron debates of 2008-2010 (RIP). It’d be like Magic going to the Celtics in the 80s.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    Also, I don’t blame James for leaving Cleveland. He gave them 7 great years and fulfilled his obligations (minus the no show in Game 5). HOWEVA (word to SAS), the way he left for Miami was just truly a stupid move, especially considering how PR conscious he is.

  • TheNastyKidd

    I really can’t fathom how anyone can say that Bron’s series vs. Orlando was “underperforming”. That was one of his best played series in his career.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    And yeah, changing the number was a pretty big indication he was leaving. Miami retired the #23 jersey so none of their players can wear it, and I’m quite sure Lebron was aware of this fact. I found it cute that he chose to “honor Jordan”….7 years into his career. Get out of here. He knew what he was doing.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTRLlwO8dRI&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL datkid

    omphalos you’re tripping.. I think lebron just made them look good enough to compete with celtics and magic. Lebron was AWESOME during that magic series. There is no way he underperformed then! and for all the complaints about him not being clutch… he was CLUTCH then. click my name for proof

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    The best thing about that Orlando series in 2009 was the look of complete surprise on Lebron’s face when his “clutch” desperation game-winning heave went in in game 1 or 2. You know you’re not used to making game winners when you jump around aimlessly and act surprised that it went in. Act like you’ve been there, superstar.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    ^ wtf?

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    no offense, but no player would NOT be excited after hitting that shot from that far out.
    That’s like saying Reggie Miller isn’t clutch because he got excited after hitting the shot over Jordan, or when he banked that near-half-courter.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Seriously some of the new cats in here are ridiculous. And crazy.

  • LA Huey

    Remember when Jordan made that shot over Ehlo and then he was jumping up and throwing his fists? Effing amateur.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTRLlwO8dRI&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL datkid

    right LA Huey? or when kobe bryant flipped out over that shot at elbow in that series against phoenix? smh you knew he’d never done that before and he’d never do it ag- oh wait……..

    Honestly though I know OTB hates lebron more than I hate bulls22 so his comment didn’t really surprise me

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    I didn’t say he wasn’t clutch, I just thought it was funny that he reacted like he’d never hit a shot like that before. And it wasn’t that far out, it was almost exactly at the 3 point line. But I digress, because an observational quip can’t be made on this board if it is against Lebron – oops.

    @nbk – I know you’re referring to me, but just so we’re clear, I’m not new here. I’ve been reading this site since when it primarily consisted of The Links, back in 2004 or so. I don’t often post on here, and only started recently.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    @datkid – I hate the guy, but I give him his props or take his side if I find it reasonable (see my posts a little earlier). I just found that funny PERSONALLY, and I will acknowledge that I probably watched that game with Hater-Goggles on, hence my annoyance at the shot. No need to pile on, gentlemen.

  • CubicleWorker

    I don’t agree with your assessment of Cleveland draft record, when you’re the first place team every year you usually don’t get much of a choice. And I’m sick of people using OKC and SA as examples of model franchises. OKC was extremely lucky to have the picks they had, what if Portland drafted Durant? OKC would have Westbrook and an injured Oden and would be a bottom feeder. SA had two first round draft picks with Hall of Fame calibre players. There wasn’t any HOF calibre players in 2006 when Raptors got Bargnani. Everything is a toss up. Is Amare really a winner btw? I think Amare is one of the most overrated superstars out there. If you think you are keeping James and have a shot at another FA superstar why would you lock your cap space up in Amare??

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    To say LeBron is Pippen that must mean D-Wade is Jordan, and excuse me for my bluntness but that is just foolish. I say the jury is still out on LeBrons legacy and he has A LOT of work to do to even be on Pippens level. I’m not saying Pippen was a better PLAYER then LeBron because honestly no matter what happens, LeBron will never be a second fiddle to anybody… regardless of who wins MVP of the finals. He’s the best damb player in the league, not the best scorer.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    LeBron completely dominated against Orlando. To argue otherwise means you didn’t watch the games and haven’t viewed his stats. For the playoffs as a whole that year he averaged 35 a game. Against Orlando he had a triple double with 37 points, 14 boards and 12 assists
    He scored 40+ three times. He only scored less than 30 once and that was 25.
    The second best player on team was either Mo Williams, Delonte West or Big Z.
    If your argument is that LeBron didn’t dominate that series, when the only play they called was high post iso every single play, then I really can’t have this discussion with you.
    Of all the series, that’s the wrong one to bring up.

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    LeBron in Cleveland was a perfect match…

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Cleveland didn’t have the best record until 2008. Before that they won 35, 42, 50, 50 and 45 games. Before exploding for 66,
    Those totals leave more than enough room to draft well. Getting that information wrong is a problem.
    OKC and San Antonio both had the same luck as Cleveland, which is why I used them. Just like Chicago and just like Orlando.
    With their top pick, they picked a superstar. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Cleveland did the same, and unlike those other squads, they preceded to surround that superstar with a terrible collection of talent.
    Amare is overrated. But, he’s a legit second option. One of the best in the league when you compare second options. That’s a trade you make.

  • bike

    LeBron has the potential to be the G.O.A.T.
    If the season gets cancelled, we will be left to wonder what MIA might have been like after a full season and a finals appearance.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The Spurs drafted Manu Ginobili, & Tony Parker, after winning titles. The Thunder got lucky, but also kept their spending down (other than Nick Collison), and drafted well. Like taking Westbrook when they did, over guys that were more of a “sure thing” – Or taking Ibaka. Harden. – And their trades have only been positive too date. Basically Sam Presti is doing a better job than any GM in the league not in Miami.

  • http://sportsnickel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/silvastpierre.jpg Jukai

    Damn, did James really average 35-14-12 against Orlando?
    It’s pretty telling when you drop a triple double and people say you choked.
    Of course, -actually- choking the next two years doesn’t help your case.

  • LA Huey

    The Spurs snagged Parker late in the 1st round and Manu in the 2nd, let Malik Rose, Stephen Jackson, and a couple others walk when they asked for money they couldn’t match with their performance, picked up good vets like Finley, Horry, and Brent Barry on the cheap.
    Even if OKC got Oden, all their moves up until signing Perk to an extension has shown they have the patience to allow players to develop and not hand out crippling contracts. OKC might not be necessarily be in the playoff picture with a Durant-Oden swap, but they’d still be contending for playoff spots.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    @AllenP – I just looked at the draft history of the Cavs since 2003. Yikes. The best pick they made was Shannon Brown, and they traded him after his rookie year.

  • T-Money

    Let’s be real – that Cleveland team lacked pure talent, regardless of their payroll. When your second best player is Mo Williams, you’re not that good. Mo is with the freaking Clippers right now and he is at most their 4th best player behing BG, Gordon and Kaman (and DeAndre Jordan may be better than him too). And high profile FAs just don’t go to Cleveland. That’s it (and no CBA will change that). KD acknowledged on Twitter that he has tried and failed multiple times already to convice guys to sign to OKC. BTW – I think he’s going to leave too. It’s just not happening. Even the Hawks and the Clips have an easier time getting good players to sign on the dotted line than OKC and Cleveland. The only ways for these whack cities to get better is to draft and trade well.

  • LA Huey

    Jukai, the trip-dub wasn’t his average, just his Game 5 totals. He did average a rather “pedestrian” stat line of 38.5 ppg (via 48.7% from the field), 8.3 rpg, 8 apg, along with just over a steal and a block for the series though.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    Wasn’t J.J Hickson supposed to be the next big thing for the Cavs?

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Yeah according to Cleveland. Not anyone else.

  • http://sportsnickel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/silvastpierre.jpg Jukai

    LA Huey: Oh, forget it then. What a scrub.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    OTB
    Thanks for examining the draft history. They made crappy picks, it’s obvious. People just gloss over this for some reason. They made horrible signings. The best free agent they got was Larry Hughes and they grossly overpaid for him.
    Don’t just look at the picks after LeBron, look at the ones before him.
    And obviously, the real killer was picking LUKE JACKSON at ten, but they also wasted a pick on Dajuan Wagner and let Boozer walk because they tried to low ball him on their first offer.

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    Mo Williams, Delonte West and JJ Hickson was actually a huge upgrade from an aging Eric Snow and Wally Sczerbiak (!) ….they were getting there it’s too bad LeBron had to do em like that and leave.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    YOu can’t draft a player at number 10 and have him only play 73 games for his career. Same draft yielded Al Jefferson, Biedrins, Josh Smith, JR Smight, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin in the first round. Drafting isn’t an exact science, but they have way too many misses.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Those players are an upgrade like the clap is an upgrade over herpes.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    DeSagana Diop at #8. Classic. That’s almost as bad as the Raptors drafting Rafael Arajuo at #8.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    No Gametimeweezy they weren’t getting there. Hickson is the only one of those 3 with any semblance of trade value, and the Cavs valued him (up until last trade deadline) like he was going to be a superstar, so they never got what they could of while LeBron was in town. And ended up shipping him out for Omri Casspi. lol – that is the worst run organization in the eastern conference. plain and simple

  • CubicleWorker

    OTB and Allenp I challenge you to find someone drafted after any of Clevelands picks that could have made them a real threat. No superstars, or even all stars were drafted after any of Clevelands picks in any of the years with the exception of Jameer Nelson. I don’t think I’m reaching very far to say that I dont think Jameer Nelson would have been the catalyst to a chip in Cleveland….

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    oh im sorry they only made the NBA finals yep thats going NOWHERE….

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    oh I’m sorry they only made the NBA finals yep thats going NOWHERE…

  • MaxIsNative

    Ha. ha. hah. This is probably the best story since the lockout ended. F all that media flavored labor union stuff. This article, this one about Lebron not wanting to return to Cleveland, is the only thing I want to read about. Thank God for Lebron’s laid back personality, and Slam’s relentless pursuit to bring us the most freshest, most unique, and the most news worthy articles daily.

  • CubicleWorker

    And allenp I don’t think they lowballed Boozer, I remember it. He was due to make $700,000 the next season. Cleveland turned down the team option so they could pay him more and agreed to a $45M contract. He turned around and upsold his contract like a scum bag.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    I also heard Wilt Chamberlain is making a NBA comeback..

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    They made the finals thanks to LeBron. THe second best player during that finals run was Daniel f*cking Gibson. That finals appearance, and the fact that the team couldn’t improve after that are glaring proof of why LeBron left. THat organization was going nowhere. They were stuck in neutral.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I just provided you with a list for the people they could have drafted instead of Luke Jackson.
    You’re telling me that Al Jefferson wouldn’t have made a difference? Or Josh Smith? Or Kevin freaking Martin?
    Come on.
    In subsequent years, Paul Millsap, Nicholas Batum, Serge Ibaka, George Hill, Courtney Lee, Omer Asik, Luc Mbah, Jodie Meeks, Chase Buddinger were available.
    And it’s not just drafting stars, it’s about drafting role players.
    Look at the Thunder. They got Durant, then got Westbrook, then got Ibaka and Harden. They also picked up Cook. Resigned Collison, traded for Thabo, traded for Perkins after drafting Jeff Green.
    They have consistently made good deals to build their core and get good role players.
    San Antonio has done the same thing. Chicago has a cache of good talent, we will have to see how they manage it.
    Cleveland didn’t draft well, didn’t sign good free agents and didn’t get good returns on its talent. That’s a complete failure.

  • http://sportsnickel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/silvastpierre.jpg Jukai

    2003 Draft pick: 31, Jason Kapono
    Better pick: Luke Walton, Keith Bogans, Steve Blake, MO WILLIAMS WITHOUT PAYING UP THE WAZOO, Kyle Korver
    2004 Draft Pick: 10, Luke Jackson
    Better Pick: Andris Biedrins, Kris Humphries, AL JEFFERSON, JOSH SMITH, JR SMITH, JAMEER NELSON, Delonte West, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin, Trevor Ariza, pretty much 85% of this draft
    2005… Cleveland acquires the draft rights to Martynas Andriuskevicius from Orlando for a 2006 second-round pick and future considerations
    Better option: Ryan Gomes, Andray Blatche, Amir Johnson, Marcin Gortat
    2006 Draft Pick: 42, Daniel Gibson
    Better Pick: Not gonna lie, not a bad pick given what they had. But Paul Millsap was waiting to be picked up.
    2006 Draft Pick: 55, Ejike Ugoaja
    Better Pick: Actually, nothing.
    2008 Draft Pick: 19, JJ Hickson
    Better Pick: Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, DeAndre Jordan, Mbah a Moute, Goran Dragic
    2009 Draft Pick: 30, Christian Eyenga
    Better Pick: DaJuan Blair, Jonas Jerebko, Chase Buddinger,
    I know it is easy to say hindsight is 20/20…. but asking “who was a better option?” is a dumb question.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    Challenge accepted. I hate you for making me do this, because the last thing I want to do is support any rhetoric regarding Lebron, but here we go. In 2004 they selected Luke Jackson at #10. They missed out on: Al Jefferson (inside presence that would have supplemented Boozer), J.R Smith, Josh Smith (defensive presence and likely an All-star in the future). In 2006, they didn’t miss out on anyone after selecting Brown at #25. In 2009 (at pick #19) they missed out on Ibaka (he’s going to be better than JJ Hickson, that’s for sure), Batum, and George Hill. Throw Dragic in there if you want. All of them were better than Hickson. The point is – they could have drafted much better than they did. They didn’t have the opportunity to draft superstars or all-stars, but they could have selected higher quality role players.

  • LA Huey

    Yeah, I remember Boozer screwed them. Also, to Cleveland’s credit, Varejao was a good pickup but then they did a stupid contract thing again…

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    Only thing standing in their way was the Celtics so thats not neutral, thats COMPETITIVE… they were a few moves away (or a few years away with the C’s getting older) from being contenders. We don’t know if who was it Danny Ferry? was he the GM? we don’t know if was going to make those moves but thats how it goes you have to learn how to fail before you can succeed. I totally could have seen LeBron winning multiple championships and if you can’t see that then you are part of the problem and the reason why superfriends are forming superteams… can’t see past whats right in front of your face. Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, and Anderson Varejao were JUST FINE… just needed seasoning. And a bench.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    Cosign NBK @ 2:13.. My thoughts exactly during his final couple years in Cleveland..

  • bike

    Whatever happened to Cleveland—bad drafts, poor management, bad signings—they made it to the finals and lost with LeBron just like MIA did last year with LeBron. So what’s MIA’s excuse? Bad chemistry? Not enough role players? Overrated Bosh?
    LeBron hasn’t won a chip yet because he has yet to be on a team with all the right ingredients that plays well enough to beat the competition at crunch time. He may never be on a team that wins it all. There are gobs of intangibles that have to be in place for a team to go all the way. Speculating on what a team should have or should not have done is meaningless.

  • http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/10/31/how-top-point-guards-in-the-pick-and-roll-are-defended-and-why/#more-16776 nbk

    The last team other than the ultra well rounded Detroit squad to win a title without 2 hall of fame players was Houston, in 1995. And Cleveland which wasn’t very well rounded, only had 2 All Stars. Let alone Hall of Famers.

  • LA Huey

    I think the point is, regardless of what Cleveland could have done, LeBron wasn’t surrounded with enough talent to win it all in the 7 years he was there.

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    bike – thats soo true man, isn’t Pat Riley supposed to be the master of figuring all that out?

  • http://sportsnickel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/silvastpierre.jpg Jukai

    I mean, damn…. Cleveland coulda had Kyle Korver (or maybe not, since he may have disappeared into the expansion draft), Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Paul Millsap, Nicolas Batum, and DaJuan Blair backing up Lebron…. instead of Kapono, Jackson, Gibson, Hickson, and Eyenga.
    That’s Korver, Jefferson, Gomes, Millsap, Batum, and Blair… over Kapono, Jackson, Gibson, Hickson, and Eyenga…
    Hell, you could even match it up with Korever, Nelson, Gortat, Millsap, Ibaka, Jerebko.
    Cleveland did a poor job of drafting talent.

  • LA Huey

    nbk, that was ’94 but I hear you.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    They lowballed him in the sense that they offered him $39 million, when the market value was higher clearly. It’s not like Utah is a free spending team.
    Now, Gund says they let him out of the cheap deal to resign him. I tend to believe that because otherwise they could have just kept him at that lower deal. But, I think they let him out early to resign him on the cheap, and he wanted more, and they didn’t want to match it. Now whether he gave them a chance to respond or not, I don’t know.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    The Eastern conference in 2007 was ridiculously weak. Just saying.

  • http://sportsnickel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/silvastpierre.jpg Jukai

    Bike: What are we arguing here? Lebron dropped the ball in Dallas. It’s 50% Lebron, 35% coaching, and 15% chemistry (I also kind of blame Wade for going away with what got them through three series, and just iso’ing up… but he was hot, Lebron should still have adjusted better).
    But, c’mon, they were alternating Anthony/Haslem as centers against a team with three seven foot centers… and Spolestra’s way of getting Lebron “more involved” in the offense was sitting Wade more, and not drawing up ANY type of play for him.
    It was kinda bad, man.

  • http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/10/31/how-top-point-guards-in-the-pick-and-roll-are-defended-and-why/#more-16776 nbk

    Thanks Hue

  • T-Money

    So people can’t make the difference between making it to the Finals and actually competing? Cavs made it to the Finals and got demolished (like the Nets or Magic). Miami made it to the Finals and actually competed to win it all. To say that both trips to the Finals are equal is ludicrous. And that Cleveland team was not beating the Bulls last year. No freaking way.

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    Cleveland could have drafted Dwyane Wade instead of LeBron if he’s such the ultimate second fiddle for that matter.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    It wasn’t really Lebron’s fault that the Cavs lost most of the time (minus in Game 5 of the 2010 playoffs when he was oddly passive) because his teammates really did suck. If the Cavs had been in the West all those years with that same roster, they would have barely sniffed the 7th or 8th spot, much like the 2006 Lakers, who had just as bad of a roster. However, his excuses have dried up now. There is no excuse for the Heat losing to the Mavs and more importantly, for him disappearing overnight and freezing up in the NBA Finals.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Everybody agrees LeBron came up small in the Finals. I thought this was a given.
    What we’re disagreeing about is the talent on Cleveland.
    It too herculean effort to get the Cavs to the Finals that year. He had to score 29 STRAIGHT POINTS against the defending EAstern Conference champs. And he got swept in the least competitive Finals in recent memory.
    With Miami he has a legit shot at the Finals every year, and a good chance to win it all. He got there in his FIRST year together with his teammates!
    Man, if people think Mo Williams, Anthony Parker and Varejo just needed “Seasoning” then there is no discussion to be had. They don’t have talent. Period.
    Nobody would expect Steve Nash to take those teams to the Finals. Hell, people understand how he didn’t manage to get to the Finals with the squads he had, but with LeBron, clearly he choked. Hilarious.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    Honestly, Lebron’s problem seems to be more with coaches than anything else. Spo has rubbed me the wrong way ever since TNT started showing what he talks about during timeouts, huddles, and locker rooms. Everything he says is melodramatic and unnecessary, as if he’s attempting to emulate Denzel’s role in Remember The Titans. Hell, I’d tune him out if I was a player. And Mike Brown was just plain scared.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Yeah, I agree on the coach thing. That and the fact that he has yet to show how to exploit obvious mismatches.
    Yes, Jason Kidd defended some stars last year, but none of those players was LeBron. Kidd should not have been able to guard LeBron barring some sort of injury. That was unacceptable.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTRLlwO8dRI&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL datkid

    honestly? you give lebron steve nash’s team in 07, or dwayne wade’s team in 06 and he wins several titles. period.

  • T-Money

    btw, am i the only one who’s not mad at boozer for taking the utah deal? i mean, this is professional sports. i don’t care what kind of handshake deal you have, when a guy becomes a free agent, you have to at least entertain the possibility that someone may present him with a more lucrative deal. that’s just a very naive way to do business. gm’s tell guys all the time that they will never get traded – same difference. i would have signed that utah deal with the quickness and never look back, i’m just being real.

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    I think Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, and Anderson Varejao played a lot better than they actually were and there is a reason for that. Those teams had plenty of chemistry and a few more seasons together I didn’t see much fall off. Only upside. And AllenP your ‘discussions’ always turn into argumentative rants anyways,

  • T-Money

    allen: you’re selling j. kidd’s defense short. he defended kove, kd, wade and bron during last year’s playoffs runs. i saw it with my own eyes. it’s truly remarkable how he’s able to get these guys into uncomfortable spots on the floor. / i have never wavered on spo: he’s a bad coach who covers up his lack of creativity by working crazy hours. (i mean, why are you looking at hours of videos every day if that’s what your offense looks like?) if miami wins it all, it will be despite having spo behind the bench. and notice that pat refuses to talk extension with him and his contract runs out next summer. he’s essentially auditioning to keep his job this year.

  • http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/10/31/how-top-point-guards-in-the-pick-and-roll-are-defended-and-why/#more-16776 nbk

    Gametimeweezy, Mo Williams is in his prime (aka as good as he’s gonna get) Anthony Parker’s prime was a decade ago, in Europe. And Anderson Verajao is the type of guy that is not going to change your chances at a title, other than by supplying energy and hustle from a 32MPG role player. Basically they looked that good because they played with LeBron. Which should be obvious, they did just play a season without him that gives some very compelling evidence that they were nowhere near championship caliber.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com OTB

    That’s speculative. The 2006 Heat were only created to win one title. It was filled with vets on their way out of the league, who just wanted to win one ring and call it a day. He would have been exactly where the heat went in 2007 – a first or second round exit, because Shaq got injured and stopped caring, and so did the rest of the players on that Heat team. As for Nash’s 07 team – the roster would have been Amare at C, Kurt Thomas (or Diaw, pick one) at PF, Lebron at SF, Marion at SF/FG, and Barbosa at PG. That leaves a bench of Diaw/Thomas, Raja Bell, James Jones, and Marcus Banks to round out the rotation. That’s an interesting match-up against the Spurs. The bigger question is whether or not Lebron would have disappeared when it matters the most.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    T_money
    The problem with the Boozer issue is that he was only eligible to make that money because they let him out of his deal early. Now, of course, he would have been a free agent in one more year and they would have had to compete with everybody then, and the Cavs would have been getting him for a steal at $40 million, but they did do him a solid favor.
    To me, if they let him out and he said “Look, $40 million ain’t cutting it, I’m going to need more because Utah is offering $70 million.” And the Cavs said no thanks, then that’s on them. But, if he got out of the deal and then just signed with Utah with no warning, then that’s fairly shady. Not more shady than getting traded after you sign a sweetheart deal to stay with your current team (which happens all the time) but it’s still shady.
    And Kidd is a very good defender. But LeBron is way too big and way to quick. Did you see what Wade did to Kidd the few times he put him on the block? No way should LeBron have struggled like that.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Gametimeweezy
    You said that Mo Williams, Varejo and Anthony Parker needed seasoning to improve.
    That speaks for itself.
    My discussion turn into rants because people create facts to buttress their opinions, instead of looking at the facts and then forming an opinion.
    By any objective or subjective measure, those Cleveland teams were talent deficient. Stating anything else doesn’t correlate with reality.

  • http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/10/31/how-top-point-guards-in-the-pick-and-roll-are-defended-and-why/#more-16776 nbk

    Boozer was a restricted free-agent wasnt he? So Cleveland always had the opportunity to retain him N didn’t. Isn’t that the definition of refused…..

  • Enigmatic

    Boozer was shady as hell for that one.
    I always knew he’d leave Utah for the next big paycheck too.

  • bike

    LeBron lost in the finals with Cleveland for the same reason he lost the finals with Miami.
    When his shot wasn’t falling, he didn’t have the teammates who were ready to fill a scoring role. So he gets frustrated and his confidence goes to hell in a handbasket. Just like what happened in Cleveland
    Wade’s shortcomings in the finals were overshadowed by LeBron’s failings
    Miami will need to find role players like shooters with size and versatility just like Cleveland failed to do.
    No argument that Cleveland made some mega mistakes in getting much better players but Miami also has some serious work to do.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I wish Don Nelson coached the Heat. Just to see what he would do.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    LeBron lost in the finals with Cleveland because the Spurs were better than them from Top to Bottom. They didn’t win a single game in that series for the same reasons that people blame LeBron for the Miami series. (I blame LeBron too, but I also don’t think Dallas was losing after game 3 anyway. That team had it clicking, they didn’t look beatable)

  • RuthjieG

    I never want to see him in Cleveland again.
    He has embarrassed us enough, no 2nd chance here.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Nah, that Dallas series was still a toss up. He choked big time. He failed his team.
    But against the Spurs, he had no shot. Daniel Gibson and Eric Snow are not cutting it. And LeBron’s jumper was pretty broken back then. They shouldn’t have beaten Detroit, but the Pistons were complacent and coached by Flip Saunders.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    @datkid, how are you gonna say if lebron had nash or wade team that season he would have won when he couldnt get it done last season with the second/third best player in the league and a all-star caliber player.

  • http://SLAMONLINE.COM LakeShow

    ^You gotta go in on Flip like that? lol. I always thought he was a decent coach. On the right team anyway. I don’t think that Dallas series was a toss up. No more than it was vs the Lakers. Dallas was going to win the chip last year. They were clicking more than the Celtics during there most perfect moments via 06. They were nailing daggers all Playoff’s. More so than any team before I believe. Dallas was a Juggernaut.

  • http://SLAMONLINE.COM LakeShow

    *08*

  • Pete Rubens

    I will start by saying that even though I am a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I am as objective as they come. I will also state that LeBron was the sole reason for the Cavs reaching the NBA Finals in ’07, but to claim he didn’t have enough talent to win it all in the following years is bogus. LeBron choked in the ’08-’09 series against the Magic, quit in the ’09-’10 series against the Celtics & completely fell apart last summer against the Mavs. Throw out statistics all you want, if you watched the games & understand basketball, you’ll understand while LeBron is naturally the most talented we’ve ever seen, he has BIG time flaws in his game. Against the Magic, two 20 point leads vanished in the first two games & his floor game was awful with all his timely turnovers. Against the Celtics, he completely quit & seemed disengaged in Game 5 & 6 & last summer, he absolutely folded & became the 4th best player for the Miami Heat (Chalmers played much better than him). You still harp on LeBron’s lack of talent in Cleveland for the reason him not winning it as if he didn’t have a team with arguably 2 of the top 5 & 3 of the top 15 players in the league on one team lose to a Mavs team with the 6′ tall 33 year old Jason Terry as their 2nd best player. Maybe, just maybe, he’s just not the player most people think he is?

  • Pete Rubens

    & let’s not act like the Heat didn’t have 4th quarter leads in the first 4 games of last years Finals, but because LeBron absolutely crumbled in the fourth quarter, only won two games & eventually lost the series. Thank you.

  • Pete Rubens

    @bike & Wade’s shortcomings in the Finals? are you KIDDING me? he was the sole reason the Heat won the two games that they did. They lost because LeBron choked, face it. He scored 8 points in Game 4… EIGHT! Yet they were still in the game. & the only reason they lost was because Jason Terry scored 8 4th quarter points… on LeBron.

  • r-kac

    Okay, I have been following LeBron James for 10 years now, and I will always be a fan of his no matter what team he plays for. If he comes back to Cleveland, I am all for it, because he wants to revive his role as King James. Sure, he has beef with Dan Gilbert, and his fans in C-Town hate him, but am I the only one who thinks it can happen? On the night of the The Decision last summer, two things happened to me. First, I stopped being a Cavs fan, and second, I became a fan of the Heat. Is it a crime to still like LeBron James? I don’t think so! In the seven years he played for Cleveland, they were in the playoffs (except for the 2003-2004 season), and made an appearance in the 2007 NBA Finals. What really made me angry was when Dan Gilbert made threats after The Decision saying ‘the Cavs are going to get a ring before LeBron does.’ What the Cavs didn’t know was the 2010-2011 season was the worst season they ever had. Anyway, to sum it up, I do want to see LeBron play in Cleveland, but for now, he’s doing a good job with the Heat. One more thing, let’s end this lockout and get back to basketball!

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Slick Ric
    Man, those Suns teams were way more stacked than Miami last year. They didn’t have the star power of Wade and Bron, but the drop off was not as steep once you got past the big two, particularly that team Nash had that lost to the Spurs 4-1 when Amare averaged 35 a game.
    Now, the team the next year would have been a challenge, and I don’t know if they would have won the ring. But, I think they would have beaten Dallas that year.
    And I they would have been contenders the next year.

  • JakeJ

    What I still don’t understand is why against Boston and Chicago in the playoffs, Lebron handled the ball down the stretch and dominated at the end of games. Then in the Finals Wade handled the ball and Lebron wasn’t doing much at all. Did he have to spend all of his effort guarding the All-World Jason Terry? Was he slightly injured as I’e heard here and there? Did he realize it was The Finals and that Wade had dominated once before in such a circumstance, so he should step aside? I know people will say he just choked, but he didn’t even give himself a chance to choke.

  • http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/10/31/how-top-point-guards-in-the-pick-and-roll-are-defended-and-why/#more-16776 nbk

    ^ that’s true. If Stoudemire were healthy in 06 I think Phoenix would have been playing Miami.

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    Okay, I dun goofed, shoulda checked the stats on that Orlando series. My bad haha.

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    In my defence, coverage wasn’t great over here so I didn’t get to see the games, just heard how much of an upset it was for the Cavs to lose.

  • http://myspace.com/gametimeweezy Gametimeweezy

    smh…

  • http://myspace.com/gametimeweezy Gametimeweezy

    Allenp – objective or subjectively… your OPINIONS speak for themselves. I’m starting to think you are only able to evaluate teams and players on induvidual basis alone. Hence your OPINION that Mo Williams, Parker, and Varejao suck. You FAIL to accept anything other than your own objective and subjective OPINIONS… so you cannot fathom a TEAM that had Mo Williams, Parker, and Varejao would be able to improve with LeBron James at the helm. That is absurd to think they WOULDN’T improve… unless you think role players are unnecessary? I can tell you it is a FACT that they were just fine for that team.

  • http://facebook PENNY

    labron is only saying that so he can get the cleveland fans off his back. Do you guys really think he would come back to cleveland?

  • http://sportsnickel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/silvastpierre.jpg Jukai

    Gametimeweezy: I just want to inform you, you are WELL into the minority on this one. Williams, Parker and Varejao is an awful starting lineup.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTRLlwO8dRI&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL datkid

    I’m confused pete.. in cleaveland he had nobody… in miami he did. Nobody’s saying he didn’t screw up in miami… but what we are saying is that he didn’t have nearly enough talent to compete in cleaveland.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTRLlwO8dRI&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL datkid

    cosign jukai

  • Miggs

    Look its plain and simple. Lebron hasnt won a chip yet cuz he doesnt play wit a chip on his shoulder.look at all tbe greats with multiple rings.they played every game with that controlled rage.dont get me wrong tho cuz jordan did make it hard for people like malone,stockton,miller,ewing.but lets say jordan had never been born. You can bet ya ass the people i mentioned would have made it to the promised land.ai would have had one if it wasnt for a young kobe and a shaq in his prime.vince carter is another example of somebody who should have played with a chip on his shoulder.idc wat anybody say vc was supposed to be the second comin of jordan.insane athleticism.shoot anywhere on the court.ANYWHERE.had the size.and to top if off he went to north carolina.and then of course you have the players that fell victim to nagging injuries that would have won chips like grant hill,penny hardaway and who could forget the man that was kevin durant before kevin durant………..tmac

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    yea i know lol

  • Scott

    Who cares? James is nothing but a wannabee. First it was “The Immortal Michael” then it was Dr. J. The guy has as much of a clue as he does real talent=none.

  • jamal

    i’ll love to see lebron back in cleveland. it would be great cuz he have d potencial to win there

  • BBaller

    Would the bullet proof vest he would need to wear slow him down?

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