By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – If LeBron James wants to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he should not let the appallingly unprofessional letter penned four years ago by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert stand in the way.
Some believe James will not – or should not – go back to Cleveland and once again accept a paycheck from a man who publicly and petulantly decried James for “deserting” his hometown team in a display Gilbert deemed “narcissistic,” “cowardly,” “selfish,” “heartless” and “callous.”
Gilbert even said James’ departure set a bad example for the children of Cleveland.
The letter apparently haunts James, as ESPN reported a source in his camp saying, “If it wasn’t for that letter, this would’ve been done awhile ago.”
In fairness, James did announce his choice to go to the Miami Heat in over-the-top and obnoxious fashion. It made him look bad. It spurred people around the country (many of whom would not have otherwise cared what James did) to hate him.
As far as who made the more immature move, however, the answer to me is obviously Gilbert by no small margin.
Four years later, James has the upper hand again, more so now than ever. The direction of the entire NBA hinges on what has been excitedly referred to as the Decision 2.0.
Going back to Cleveland does not mean James has to grovel before Gilbert; if anything, I think it will be the other way around.
James has two NBA championships; Cleveland has won just 31.1 percent of its games in the four years since James departed.
Four years later, Gilbert looks to me like the foolish owner who lashed out in grief and anger when James left. James, on the other hand, has solidified his mantle as best player in the world.
I can understand why James would be reluctant to work with a man who attacked him so personally and — if the last four years are any indication – has so little ability to produce a winning team. James knows that if he goes back to Cleveland and wins with the Cavs, Gilbert will benefit. That knowledge has to be a tough pill for James to swallow.
Given the choice in a similar situation, many people – perhaps most people – would want to stay away simply as an act of revenge. Then again, most people do not have the opportunity that James has now.
The ultimate question James must answer is whether it is more important to him to spite Gilbert or more important to him to fulfill dreams of bringing a title to his hometown team.
Some people believe James owes Cleveland. I’m not one of those people. Basketball is a business, so James is a businessman. He has no obligation to the Cavs. He should do what he believes is best for him, his family and his career.
James should do what he wants to do, not what anybody else wants him to do.
If he wants to play in Cleveland, he should do it. An inane letter written in an emotional moment should not stand in the way.