Written by: Jon Bozeka (@JonBozeka)
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People often ask me where I was the night LeBron left Cleveland. Did you watch “The Decision” live on TV? I didn’t watch “The Decision” because I was at a Firestone High School theater production and had just finished the performance. I had a great performance that night too. I was thrilled after that night and then I was told that LBJ left town.
Amidst all of the riots in Cleveland and Akron, all of the jersey burnings and the malice shown towards a man that was once beloved, the one thing that stood out to me was his quote during “The Decision”. “In this fall, this is very tough, in this fall I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” (Courtesy of ESPN)
LeBron took his talents to South Beach and said he might win ten championships in his coming out party with Wade and Bosh, which seemed perfect. Even with all of that, for me it was still about the quote. LeBron taking his talents stuck with me. Why was I to believe that he would do any better in Miami? He had failed in Cleveland. He said he would bring a championship to the city by the lake and didn’t. He said he wouldn’t stop until he had brought that franchise a championship. It seemed as though he was meant to win in Cleveland and we were all witnesses to his greatness. Then he left….
In his first season with Miami, he lost to Dallas in the finals and was non-existent in that series. Cleveland felt joy in watching him lose. At the end of the strike shortened season, LeBron defeated the weaker Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals with a convincing 4-1 series victory. Then in 2013, he squeaked by the Spurs in seven games. Those three seasons in Miami resulted in two championships for LeBron, after which he was heralded the best player in the world.
Then we come to this summer. The 2014 NBA Finals brought a rematch of the Heat vs. the Spurs. The table was set for another great final and almost everyone was predicting another 7 game thriller. A thriller it was not, as the Spurs won 4-1. The Spurs dominated the Heat while LeBron was left to play one on five for most of the series. LeBron has played in a total of five NBA finals and has gone 2-3 in those appearances.
After his two championship victories, people were calling the Heat a dynasty. LeBron is still being compared to Jordan, and I still disagree with it all. Let me get something straight, I don’t hate LeBron. Being from Akron and loving the city more than just about anyone who lives there, it’s great to watch someone from the city succeed. He is still a sign of hope for the rubber city and shows that even a kid from Akron can make it big and live out their dreams. I suppose you are reading this now and saying, “Jon, make your point”.
Ok, well here it is. LeBron achieved two championships in Miami, but now four years later he is still the same player he was in 2010 with the Cavs when he ‘quit’ against Boston. Sure, he has two championships, but only once has he ever defeated a great team to earn a ring.
Was defeating Oklahoma City in 2012 really that big of an accomplishment? Did LeBron really do anything to contribute to that defeat? No. Here is the thing, when Jordan was at his best, EVERYONE knew he was going to win and no matter who was in his way, he was going to simply beat them. That was Jordan and that’s why he was the best player in the world.
LeBron won his titles and people call him the greatest in the world, but he still can’t finish or lead a charge when the going gets tough. I once heard it said that, “[LeBron is] a truly great talent, but can’t lead you out of a restaurant.” This individual had seen just about every game LeBron played in Cleveland. He was enamored by his talent, but said he lacked leadership. He could score and make plays like no one else could, but he didn’t have the ability to lead his team.
LeBron has ultimately gotten exactly what he wanted. He left Cleveland to win titles with Miami. Cleveland didn’t give him the pieces he needed to survive and he couldn’t lead a group of good NBA players to win. He needed a group of great players that were bought by Miami to win. He was always looked to for leadership in Cleveland and he couldn’t produce. Cleveland gave him all of the pieces he needed, bringing in experience and scorers, but he did nothing with it.
This year was more of the same and while LeBron scored the most points for the Heat in each game, leadership isn’t about points. It’s about what you do to keep your guys focused while keeping them motivated when the going gets tough. In those moments LeBron would simply become disgusted and did nothing to excite his teammates to make a comeback.
Miami has gone from the championship city where help was always there for LeBron, to now looking just like Cleveland. Talent has repeatedly surrounded LeBron and when things get tough, he can’t win. His situation has gone full circle and karma has come back to bite him in the butt.
He continues to be tested with situations where he has to lead all by himself and he can’t do so. I want to see LeBron lead his team through a tough win in the finals, where he is verbal and doesn’t have the help of anyone else. Last time he was influenced by money and playing with Wade and Bosh, but this summer LeBron has to make a decision again.
LeBron didn’t make the decision to play down in Florida. It was made for him by what he had to look forward to. He would go play with people he didn’t have to lead and now he has to make a decision to lead himself somewhere for the good of his future.
LeBron took his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2010 and it still sticks with me to this day, because in reality, what else was he going to take?
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