Why LeBron signs with Cleveland.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  What can I tell you… it’s been too damn nice around here.  Hampton, NH is not often never called a beautiful beach but at low tide, it can surprise you.

The Wall, North Beach, Hampton, NH.

There’s also been not a whole lot that’s gotten my attention. World Cup notwithstanding.  But even there, commenting is perilously close to chirping which leads to jinxing and .. aw fuck it .. I’m having a good World Cup.

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Thanks Ticos!  Oh yeah sure there have been misses but I’m doing better than I did in football for sure.  I mean to write up something for the round of 16 but in case I don’t just put me down for Chile, Netherlands, Uruguay, Costa Rica, France, Argentina, Germany, and USA.  Toughest picks are Argentina (finally looked in form last game), Netherlands (Mexico is really good; Holland simply really really good); USA (if they play their Germany game again, they’ll beat Belgium).

On to the subject for today:

Why LeBron comes to the Cavs.

Now then, I’ve been compiling a list of reasons why I think LeBron comes back to the Cavs.  I find the national takes uniformly miss the mark when they focus on ‘best chance to win’ angles or pairing with Carmelo talk or Riles’ savvy team-building capability or -omg- Shabazz Napier.  I think they’re hopelessly missing some of the bigger factors that will drive him, it so let me walk through a handful of reasons I think LeBron will be back.

Because I think, in his heart, he ‘wants’ to be back in Cleveland.  The question is can it be rationalized.

1. Cleveland is a relevant sports town with teams on the up and with swaggy bros to hang with.

Tristan Thompson

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Do you buy the big-bro/little-bro stuff between LeBron and TT?  I do sure, why not.  Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports Management has seven clients, it might be nice to get two of them together.

Johnny Manziel

lebron-johnny-manziel-1_original lebron-james

Another Cleveland sports figure is paired up with another of LeBron’s posse.  JFF is using Maverick Carter’s LRMR Management for his marketing.

Joe Haden


I dunno man, you can’t tell me LeBron wouldn’t love seeing this guy courtside at the Q.  Layered on top of this is that the Browns are about to break through.  LeBron will want to be around when the Browns become a big deal.  Don’t care about his having been a Cowboys fan because this:


Andrew Wiggins


Leaving the high school prodigy aspect aside, there are other ways in which Wiggins and LeBron compare.  Such as “how to dress like a number one overall pick.”

imrs draft_080610_01


2.  Akron

The house.


Just cropped out of this view are The Law Offices of ClevelandFrowns, esq..

Akron tatts.

lebron-james-tattoo-805-shoulder-akron-est-1984-small lebronjames3

LeBron has had the 330 area code on his right forearm for a long time.  But last year he added Akron to his right shoulder.



I’ve lost track at everything LeBron has given back to his high school.  (Help me out Zac Jackson!)  I know there’s bikes and football uniforms and didn’t he drop a mill to renovate the gym?  Obviously he loves his school and obviously he still maintains friendships with classmates.  Less obvious is whether the chatter about his kids being enrolled in Bath area school this fall is true or not.  But it wouldn’t surprise and it definitely would make sense that LeBron would like his kids to go to SVSM for high school.

Savannah and the kids.


Lookit, you just don’t wear the Akron name or get the Akron tatts or stay connected to the Akron high school if there isn’t a very special unbreakable bond.  There’s simply more evidence that LeBron’s heart is in Northeast Ohio than there is that it isn’t.


But don’t take my word for it, here’s what his wife — a SVSM alumna — thinks about after living in Miami last four years.

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Rich Paul

I’ll include Rich Paul in the “Home” part of this analysis since he just moved Klutch into 3000 square feet of office space on Public Square (Cleveland).  I don’t know about the rest of you, but for the longest time, I thought LeBron’s entourage were basically lucky parasites (too harsh) remoras who hit the buddy lottery in high school.  Then I saw an article in ESPN Mag that made me rethink my view:

LBJ-RichPaul1-e1347537698270IN THE SUMMER of 2011, Paul, James, Dwyane Wade and others were in the Bahamas, just weeks after the Heat had been upset by Dallas in the Finals. The dinner table in their rented mansion was full of steak, seafood, fruit and more, but the mood was sour. James and Wade were beating themselves up, trying to explain what happened. Paul stepped in. “Man, it wasn’t meant for y’all to win.”

“Man, what are you talking about?” said an irked James.

“The reason you didn’t win it is that you weren’t being you,” Paul said. “You were playing with a lot of anger, being someone you’re not. If God had let you win, you would’ve felt like you should be that person — angry, thinking everybody’s against you, not having fun on the court. That’s not you.”

“Man, whatever,” said James. “I’m not trying to hear this.”

“It’s bigger than what you did on the floor, Bron. It started from day one, when you decided to be someone else. God took you from your highest point to your lowest point so you could be humble, so you could look in the mirror and be a better player. Experience is the best teacher.”

James was quiet. But the words, uttered by one of the few men who can deliver King James an unpopular message, hit home. Before long in interviews, at his camp, in the mirror, LeBron was saying the exact same thing.

I find Paul’s counsel very wise.  His entourage might have miscalculated on The Decision broadcast, but the holistic wisdom from the passage above tells us LeBron’s team is capable of working at a level above anything Darren Rovell could ever conceive of.

It’s also an indicator that LeBron is grounded enough to appreciate what all the national bi-coastal analysts fail to understand…

3.  Home-as-more-than-a-place-but-as-a-soul-nourishing-peaceful-refuge.

There are many reasons LeBron will come back and but the primary one is “home.”

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Just two days ago with a SVSM instagram.

I’m a Cleveland ex-pat.  When I graduated from Miami all I wanted was to get the hell out of Ohio.  There was a whole big world out there and I wanted to see it.  It was a mix of adventure and the grass is greener somewhere else.  After having lived in NYC, Chicago, LA, NC, Western NY, and Boston I can tell you that I came to appreciate Cleveland more and would have been happy to come back.  Having started a family in Massachusetts, moving back wasn’t in the cards… I’m just saying, though, that I would have been delighted had the opportunity to come back presented itself.  I’m just saying that once you’ve got your frame of reference, once you’re satisfied that you’re not missing anything, Northeast Ohio stacks up as a pretty nice place to live.

If you’re reading this you’re maybe ex-Cleveland also.  (A majority of my pageviews come from outside Ohio.)  Even if you don’t share my (perhaps romanticized) view about returning to live in NEO, you are at least maintaining your bond to the area by checking in on a Cleveland-focused blog.  I.e., there _is_ a bond.

Welp, LeBron is a Cleveland ex-pat too.  He’s done the jet-skis-and-strip-clubs phase of his life and is able to do what’s important to him.  All signs point to his family being most important.  All signs point to his strong bond with NEO being intact.  All signs point to a solid support group who know what’s inside LeBron and will help him be most whole.  PROTIP:  pairing up with Carmelo in Houston ain’t it.


Other thoughts:

  1. Wade and Bosh owe LeBron.  Who’s to say he doesn’t bring them with him to Cleveland?  I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how this week’s “Big three summit” went down.  LeBron:  I’m going back to Cleveland.  Wade/Bosh:  We ain’t.  LeBron:  Thanks a lot bros.
  2. The wild card I see in all this is Kyrie.  Man was he off last year.  LeBron coming back could re-energize him (and keep him around).  One wonders if that is why he wasn’t traded pre-draft because absent something as significant as LeBron, Kyrie shows all signs of leaving town at the first opportunity.
  3. Don’t see the Dan Gilbert saga as any sort of a barrier to return.  As an owner, Gilbert has proven himself willing to spend to the max to build a top team.  The Baron Davis and Shaquille acquisitions prove it.  Compared to Mickey Arison and there’s no comparison.  Actually it’s worse.  LeBron may not have had the best supporting cast when he left the Cavs but it wasn’t for lack of spend.  The year’s Heat supporting cast was on par with the 2010 Cavs and was directly due to an unwillingness to take on luxury taxes.
  4. Blatt runs an offense.  This would be a new experience for LeBron having played for non-coaches in Mike Brown and Erik Spoelstra and having lost a couple times to coaches who coach (Pop and Rivers).  This would be intriguing for LeBron.
  5. There will be no Decision and no ridiculous unveiling party.

I know ESPN types won’t understand it.  Anyone who lives in a non-flyover place will kill him for it.  But I think there’s every reason to think LeBron does what’s right for him and his family and comes home to the Cavs.

  • Ivana Fergerson

    Savvy writing – I was fascinated by the details – Does anyone know where my assistant might be able to acquire a template CA FL-341(C) document to complete ?

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  • Have we all seen Severa the canine Portugal fan? These are great.

  • maxfnmloans

    Udonis Haslam opted out earlier today, that’s “wink-wink. Tampering? No tampering here” deal #1 for Miami. Rumor has it he’s been offered some sort of post retirement “emeritus” position within the Heat organization once he finally does retire. Theres all sorts of stuff going on “behind the scenes” in Miami (I say that out of the side of my mouth, because apparently its not a well kept secret, nor was it in 2010, but since it’s Pat Riley, the league doesn’t seem to notice).

    The big hurdle for the Heat is going to be Wade. If Wade can’t accept the fact that he’s not worth 20 mil a year, then the team likely disbands. However, I think more likely is Wade getting re-signed for more money and more years with a lower annual value. That way LeBron can sign for 1-2 more years and eject once Wade is done, done and the cap is a mess.

    Sorry, he’s not coming back to live at home, and have to drive to Cleveland to ball (he made it 4KTV clear that Akron and Cleveland were two completely different places in his mind). At least not this year. Maybe in 2016.

    • maxfnmloans

      and according to the Twittersphere, Wade and Bosh have opted out as well. That, as they say, is the end of that. They’ll all re-sign with more team friendly deals that allow for them to continue in Miami.

      • Dave Kolonich

        The Wade idea makes total sense. The Heat as they are currently built demand a lot to play their style of defense. James is still young enough to play it and Bosh has that great range. As for Wade, they need to slowly plug in a younger replacement.

        This is also why the Carmelo rumors make no sense to me. He’s basically almost a jump shooter at this point in his career – and give him another two years and he’s basically Mike Miller.

        Anyway, this all makes sense for LeBron to re-up for ONE year, then maybe do the same thing again in 2015, making him the perpetual free agent.

        • maxfnmloans

          “the perpetual free agent”

          I can tbelieve I never thought of this before, but remember when Deion Sanders did this for a while in the mid-90’s? Left ATL, played (and won a SB in) SF for 1 year, then went to DAL and won a SB there?

          Cant believe I never put that together before

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      You’re nailing it here. I highly doubt anyone leaves Miami.

  • Fox Lechner

    I adopted Cleveland as “my city” in the US. So Lebron back to the Cavs would be a good thing. However and Apologies in advance, if I offend a long time suffering Clevelander: If I could choose, I would want the Browns to win the first championship since 64. After that the dominos may fall and the Cavs and Indians (which I adopted, too btw.) can win it all, too.

    • Petefranklin

      You got that right brother! Cavs are a distant third in the weiner dog race. If the NHL comes back to Cleveland, they would be a distant fourth for me.
      The Indians will never win another world series. They couldn’t win with two of the greatest teams of all time in 54 and 95 and I don’t ever see them having another powerhouse team in my lifetime.

      • mgbode

        The Indians will never win another world series

        The Indians have gotten far closer than any other team recently. In fact, I’d say the Indians got closer in 2007 than the Cavs (as the winner of the ALCS was crushing that Rockies team either way).

        • Petefranklin

          They did get close but they did what they do best…choke away a lead!

          • mgbode

            Only cleveland team to have that lead to choke away

  • Tron

    Glad to see this decision has gotten the “Kanicki treatment”. Good stuff. One question: I am not an expert NBA guy but can Andrew Wiggins and Lebron James play together at the same time? I thought I saw Wiggins listed as a guard but at 6’8″ is he projected to play small forward, the same position as Lebron?

    • mgbode

      Wiggins, at his best, is projected to be a SG. He would be an absolute terror on both ends of the floor there and has the athleticism to pull it off.

    • actovegin1armstrong

      Lebron can play defense at every position. It would be possible to win a championship with Lebron and 4 guards as starters. The league has changed, the era of John Wooden coaching big men and the Super Center is not currently in vogue. Even in the halcyon days of the big man, Wes Unseld led his team to a Championship and many other close calls. He was a 6′ 5″ Center. (Although they listed him as 6′ 7″.)
      The NBA may be the only place where size does not matter.

  • Jeff Rich

    It takes a lot to sell me on LRMR, Rich Paul as an agent, or Brian Windhorst as this excellent writer everyone wants to make him out to be as anything other than the parasite factor Kanick eluded to, but I’m sold on Paul. Trying to compare any of our own lives to a young man who has lived the life of the “next Michael Jordan” since age 15 is a fool’s journey, but we can still draw parallels. The amount of maturing one does from 25 to 30 can’t be understated, and I think that there are going to be a few people that have his ear. None of them are named Riley, Wade, or Bosh, but it’s only going to be input; it’s very much his decision.

    I think staying in Miami for the short-term is what he does, but it wouldn’t surprise me if smart people that he loves dearly ask him to take a long look at Cleveland this time around, for many of the reasons outlined here.

  • As much as it will pain my mom’s side of the family, the Dutch are going to roll over Mexico. Having said that, though, if they happen to lose no one will remember that they took all 9 points out of the group stage. Which brings us to the USA.

    Too much is being made of the fact that the USA advanced “even though they lost” the game to Germany. Group play is all about doing what you have to do to advance, and the USA did that. If you don’t like it that they went through with 4 points, well then Ghana or Portugal should have beat them and then they would have gone through.

    The USA made it through without Altidore and with Michael Bradley doing his best LeBron vs. the Celtics in 2010 impersonation. If he can pull his head out of his ass and play up to his abilities, the Americans should/could get past Belgium (especially if Victor Kompany is out).

    After that, who knows? But I don’t think anyone is ready for this to be over on Tuesday night.

    • i’m wondering if they’re a better team without altidore. likewise, to my eye, bradley has played ‘not good.’ heavy touches, sloppy passes (and not just the tragic portugal turnover). isnt he supposed to be the chuck knoblauch of this team (fundamentally sound)?

      it feels sacrilegious to say and USMNT devotees tend to not want to hear these things but to my eye –> i want more zusi, wondolowski, and definitely yedlin… less bedoya, bradley, and a less-than-100%-altidore.

      • That’s the rub: no matter how badly he plays, you can’t bench Bradley. You just have to hope he will rediscover his game. Jurgen will work his powers between now and Tuesday on him.

        And while I’m disappointed by the latest shenanigans from Luis Suarez, part of me wishes he had tried that nonsense on someone like Jermaine Jones. That may have cured him once and for all.

        • as a germany partisan for that last game, jones-for-the-equalizer scared the crap out of me. (also yedlin albeit for just like five minutes.)

          btw, clint dempsey is as good as anyone not named neymar, messi, or muller at this point in the tourney, no?

          • Completely, which is what makes Bradley’s struggles so much more frustrating. He’s leaving Dempsey hanging out there by himself.

          • Fox Lechner

            Klinsi can’t take Bradley of the field because he (Bradley) appears to be the most important piece to the US teams’s defensive scheme. The US team stood very compact against Germany. A very, very good effort. Defense and Midfield rotated and shifted into a perfectly organized defensive block. To achieve that you need a) a sort of ant like group intelligence or b) one or two players who can align and direct the other players.
            On the level I played we did not have such a player – so the easiest rule (aside from putting the field into the segments for which each player would be responsible for) is that each of the 8/9 defending players needs to make sure to always play about 8 meters from the next teammate. Key is to keep this human web moving and reacting to the offense. Sounds very easy – but this is a very hard thing to do. Only Mourinho teams and the Squadra Azzura can play this to perfection. So what the US did against Germany was really a joy to watch – and Bradley is their field general. Jones is a fighter and no doubt a very good player, but he is not on Bradley’s level in this regard. Certainly not the best, but against Germany the most important player for the US team was Bradley. Or if you want to put it this way: The best player without the ball for the US is Bradley.

      • Petefranklin

        No way are they better W/O Altidore! Speed kills and Josie was the one who stretched Ghanas defense(very fast). I don’t want him playing this game vs Belgium though unless he’s 95%.

  • off topic: justin gilbert playing some press man at Play 60 today.

    • But what does he think about the Johnny Manziel attention?

      • he cant talk now.. too focused on denying this kid his release.

        • mgbode

          no, that kid IS Johnny Manziel. that’s just how small he is.

  • Petefranklin

    I wish you would have posted those soccer picks as I am having a rough tournament. I think the USA is underrated although they showed nothing vs. Germany, and if the forteleza rainforest was so hard to come back from why did portugal outrun a more athletic Ghana team? I also think Mexico is very over rated, can’t wait to bet the Dutch, or am I missing something here?

  • Dave Kolonich

    Kanick makes some rational arguments as for why LeBron could return to Cleveland, but in even more colder rational terms, let’s consider the obvious:

    Akron is not Cleveland, but whatever.

    If the decision is between the Cavs and Heat, then you have:

    1-A stable franchise who tends to reward its stars with lifelong commitments beyond the immediate game. Throw in the history of winning two rings and the underrated aspect of having a four-year old playing system already in place (kind of important if anyone watched the Spurs play.)


    2-A team owned by Dan Gilbert, the petulant mortgage con man who now fancies himself an NBA decision maker. Let’s not dismiss the shortsighted history with Mike Brown, odd reliance on Danny Ferry proteges and repeated failure to pursue and identify NBA trends.

    Or if you’re into even more logic, let’s assume that LeBron again signs a shorter deal, which sets him up for another Decision in his early 30’s. In the meantime, the goal is to win more championships – which makes the decision all about which team can actually beat the Spurs/Thunder/Clips in a seven game series in the coming two years. Somehow I don’t see Terry Pluto garbling on about how clutch Tristan Thompson was in a pivotal Game Five.

    Now I could see LeBron coming back to Cleveland three to four years from now to cap off his career. Such a homecoming is kind of obvious and in theory, Kyrie, Wiggins and Waiters could be a dynamic trio. But again, can you really envision twitchy Gilbert having the patience to allow a team to develop under one management team and the same coach?

    LeBron to Cleveland? Maybe in a few years.

    • enh. the ferry-brown-grant things stems from the magic beans of trying to be like san antonio. when youre not able to offer the lifestyle of la or miami, youre left trying to be like the spurs. it didnt work obv., but it’s easy to see why it was appealing.

      as far evil team owners, micky arison’s work is much more venal than gilbert’s (outlined in depth here). ‘mortgage con man’ is a redundancy; just look at an amortization table.. the whole concept is an institutionalized con. but petulant,,, yes we can agree that his letter was petulant.

      the problem with applying logic to this is that it’s in no way logical. dan lebatard and bill simmons and colin cowherd dont understand why anyone would live in cleveland, let alone the most famous athlete on earth. he can max his brand in la or nyc; he can win more rings in chicago or houston; he can party best in miami. those are logical reasons. i just think he goes with his heart which is by definition illogical.

      • Dave Kolonich

        The Arison article merely states “Billionaire Doesn’t Like to Pay His Employees Much”, which is the exact same thing that could be said about 99% of billionaires.

        The bigger point is that Arison has a strong management team in place and doesn’t meddle, while Gilbert is the guy hiring coaches and offering his draft input.

        Again, this is the same owner who paid 100 mil for Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall and 58-year old Shaq, then couldn’t figure out why LeBron left town – then decided he wanted to “win now” with Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes.

  • dimoko

    This is intelligent, well thought out, and insightful. It has NO place on the internet. (seriously, great job. i’ve been saying a lot of these same things…there is no better place for him than here.)

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