By FARHAN PATEL, junior
During this past summer, the USA Men’s Basketball team dominated the International Federation of Basketball (FIBA) World Cup. They breezed through the first few rounds, demolished Slovenia in the quarterfinals and Lithuania in the semifinals, and ultimately trounced Serbia in the finals 129 to 92. Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, led the U.S. team with 26 points in the final game; nevertheless, he was backed by exemplary performances from his teammates, most notably James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets. With their favorite players gathered into one preeminent team, fans of all basketball teams were satisfied with Team USA’s complete control at the FIBA World Cup. However, one notable name was not on the roster this year. Arguably, the greatest player of his era in the National Basketball Association (NBA), LeBron James, withdrew himself from Team USA this summer. Even though his presence on the team was not required to capture the gold, some fans were disappointed that they would not see LeBron playing alongside his fellow NBA All-Stars, including Stephen Curry and James Harden.
While Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and the others were participating in the FIBA World Cup, LeBron was struggling with a decision that would impact his personal career. With the pressures of winning another NBA championship, especially after losing to the Spurs last season, he had to determine which team he would play for during the 2014-2015 season. Would he stay with the “Big 3” in Miami for one more shot at the championship? Or would he go back home to Cleveland, where he would be with his family and possibly start a new basketball dynasty? Many sports commentators called it “The Decision – Part Two,” comparing it to when he first decided to leave the Cavaliers to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. In an exclusive essay, “I’m Coming Home,” released in the July issue of Sports Illustrated, LeBron finally revealed that he would be leaving the Miami Heat to play for his home state. Essentially, “The Decision- Part 2” reversed what happened in Part One, when he suddenly announced that he would join the Miami Heat. However, this decision was less dramatic because he had better reasons to change teams now than he did four years ago. He left the Cavaliers in hopes of a better team dynamic and chance at the NBA gold with Wade and Bosh, but now he returns home to the town where his career began. In this upcoming season, LeBron will join forces with Kyrie Irving and recently-traded Kevin Love to form a new “Big 3.” With the long-awaited return of their hero, who brought them their first Finals appearance seven years ago, Cavalier fans may finally get their storybook ending. Cleveland is LeBron’s home, and he now has the opportunity to give back to the supporters who have stood by him throughout his career.
Still, scornful fans have speculated that if Miami had won the past championship, LeBron may have stayed; they attribute his absence to the fact that he would not be able to win any more championships with Miami, especially with Dwyane Wade facing several knee injuries and the team lacking strong bench players. However, if this was the case, why would he go to a tenth-seeded team that did not make the playoffs? According to LeBron, he is “not promising a championship right now. [They’re] not ready. No way,” so the superstar wanted to focus his time and energy solely on practicing elevating his team’s skills. He chose to go to the Cavaliers because he wanted to bring the trophy to his home.