Linkin’ Center Special: Welcome To The Jungle – LeBron Returns To Cleveland


Forget about whether we even would want LeBron James at this point or not, but it’s nice to hear some love for the Knicks from the national media. Here’s Chris Broussard saying, in hindsight, LeBron should’ve come to New York:

Tonight the deposed king returns to Cleveland for the first time, and man, if you think the Knicks get savaged by ESPN/non-NY outlets, he has been getting it hard.  Wanna build up your anger to a froth before the game?  Check out these bits:

Brian Windhorst writes how if the Miami Heat hope to have any success with LeBron that they better keep saying no to him like coach Erik Spoelstra’s been doing.  He talks about how the Cleveland Cavaliers bowed to LeBron’s every whim, and in the end it came back to bite ’em in the butt.  Then again, c’mon, if things don’t change, we all know Spoelstra’s gonna be the one who unfortunately gets canned, so Spo’s kinda in a lose-lose situation.  Unless, of course, LBJ grows up and puts in the work he needs to do.

Here Kelly Dwyer writes how LeBron’s right-hand-man Maverick Carter an unnamed source released all sorts of quotes about all the “wrong things” that Spo’s doing in an attempt to place most of the blame on coach.  Of course, as mentioned above, the “wrong things” that Spoelstra is doing, like “being too tough” and “trying to get LeBron to be more serious” sound like excellent things for a coach to do.  Sure, basketball is a game and fun, but c’mon, these guys are getting paid millions and millions of dollars — it’s their job.  Can you imagine a factory worker in Cleveland complaining to a co-worker that their boss sucks because he takes all the fun out of their job?  Yes, the article then does go on and criticize a bunch of Spoelstra’s coaching choices, but clearly he’s not the main problem.

Adrian Wojnarowski, sounding like an angry kid who got his puppy kicked by LeBron, even throws out this supposition about why this “source” chose to reveal these stories about coach now:

What’s more, the timing of this leak was no accident, because James and his business manager had to like the idea of someone else going on trial this week. When the public wanted to talk about James’ return to Cleveland, about the callous way with which he left, about the disjointed start in Miami, they thrust everything onto Spoelstra.

By the way, while we’re throwing around accusations about people’s character, what is up with Woj’s clear animosity in this piece?  Aren’t journalists, even sports journalists, supposed to appear unbiased?  Or if your work is published on the internet are you allowed to just call yourself a blogger and then sound as petulant as you like?  The iciness in this section could cause Hawaii to go Alaska on us:

[LeBron] treats everyone like a servant, because that’s what the system taught him as a teenage prodigy. To James, the coach isn’t there to mold him into the team dynamic. He’s there to serve him.

Wade was one of the Team USA players who’d watch incredulously as James would throw a bowl of fries back at a renowned chef and bark, “They’re cold!” Or throw his sweaty practice jersey across the court and command a team administrator to go pick it up. Everyone wants James to grow out of it, but he’s never showed much of an inclination for self-examination and improvement.

-Lastly, if you have like 20 minutes, I highly recommend you read Wright Thompson’s absolutely amazing article which is a much more nuanced, profound look at the city of Cleveland — not only their view of LeBron, but on sports and, more importantly, life in general.  Here’s a tiny snippet:

There are signs of death: closing mills, blocks of boarded-up buildings. There are signs of life: a thriving arts scene, a booming health care industry. On my first night in Cleveland, [a local expert] tells me about both, one minute upbeat, the next realistic, describing a 21st-century success story and a 20th-century relic.

“It could be both,” he says. “It’s at a precipice.”

Euclid Avenue and East 40th Street

Cleveland used to be. That’s what Clevelanders will tell you, driving around the city, pointing at the remnants of a once great metropolis. It’s like visiting a museum. Look, kids, this used to be America. This empty building used to be the Croatian newspaper. This empty lot used to be where John Rockefeller lived. This stadium used to be a stadium. This buried dust used to be Eliot Ness. Cleveland was home to the first home mail delivery, the first street light, the first streetcar, the first gas-powered car, the first X-ray, the first traffic light, and on and on. Life Savers were created here. So was Superman.

Yes, Cleveland used to be the center of America’s rise. This used to be a factory, and these used to be jobs, and this mill used to be a future, not a silent metaphor for the past. This city used to be home to the third-largest number of Fortune 500 companies. It used to be the home of 400,000 more people. Generations of talent have left, never to return. That’s what they will tell you, and you will realize that there are two Clevelands: the one that exists today and the ghost city floating just above it, in the memory of the people who’ve been here for a long time, and in the imagination of those who just arrived. Everything is defined by these two competing narratives. My friend, Dave Molina, who is from Cleveland, told me this: “They’re both myths. The only thing that isn’t a myth is the present. But it’s so complicated. It’s much easier to be positioned at the intersection of two impossible myths.”

LeBron was part of both myths, and, even in departure, he remains so; a reminder of what could have been and what once was.

He is a 6-foot-8 steel mill.

Tonight’s game should be phenomenal.  The anger in the air will be palpable (hopefully thought the Cleveland fans don’t do anything dumb and violent).  If LeBron were Kobe or Jordan, he’d use it to fire himself up into having a ridiculously good game.  But he’s LeBron, and I expect him to actually be quite shaken.  He may not realize it, but in the long run, that might be a great thing for him.