LeBron James surprised many by choosing to leave the Miami Heat in free agency to return to the Cavaliers, but his decision to do so wasn’t made spontaneously.
James has long considered Cleveland to be home, and the place where he would one day return to finish out his NBA career. The only question was when, and the San Antonio Spurs helped answer that for him by crushing Miami in the Finals.
The gap between the Heat and the champions had grown too large, and without the ability to attract another high-profile free agent to immediately improve the roster, it became clear that the time for LeBron to move on was now.
It’s necessary to rehash all of this a bit, in light of Carmelo Anthony’s recent assertion that his initial signing in New York may have somehow affected LeBron’s decision.
Strahan: [On being a pro athlete in New York] Not only on the court, but off the court, you’re the leader. Everything you do is more scrutinized. You have to be more careful than anybody else. And watching LeBron [James] go back to Cleveland, did that affect your decision on staying in New York, and did you learn anything from watching LeBron go back home?
Anthony: No. Honestly, I think it was the other way around. I think he saw when I came back home to New York and saw the response and saw the reaction and saw how at peace I was when I came back home. … I’m pretty sure he looked at that moment and saw that that was a very special moment, and he had the opportunity to go back home himself and regain that love.
What became clear after the dust had settled was that LeBron was always going back to the Cavaliers, and though Anthony forcing his way out of Denver to come to the Knicks was well-received in New York, the situation with LeBron and Cleveland unfolded under very different circumstances.
This post has been re-written to reflect an accurate interpretation of Anthony’s quote.