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Bringing LeBron back: dethrone the departed

February 28, 2013

By Stephanie Metzger

I remember exactly where I was the night of LeBron James’ decision. I was a soon-to-be sophomore, sitting on my couch on summer break waiting for my parents to get home from dinner.

I’m not quite sure why, but I had every grain of hope invested in James.

There was no chance he would leave Cleveland. We were his hometown, his biggest fans, and we’d given him everything. Then James decided to take his talents to South Beach, and everything seemed to change.

Jerseys were burned, tears were shed and letters of anger were scripted via Dan Gilbert. Even worse, the national media swarmed the streets of Cleveland. We were embarrassed all over again, and the jokes were amplified to a new extreme.

Local bars and businesses claimed they too felt the impact of James’ departure. For months, game night at The Q was no longer a special event to look forward to. The city was left with the likes of Mo Williams and Ryan Hollins to pick up the pieces.

And then James returned for the first time, and the city nearly imploded. I remember watching the events inside The Q take place as an intern with ESPN Cleveland. It was an early December evening and The Q became a house of anger, bitterness and hatred. Fights broke out as Cavs fans let the sting of the LeBron James alcohol burn their wounds, and the national media loomed in the shadows, begging to twist the knife.

Cleveland was once again that city the rest of the country pitied. For seven years, we had something to be proud of, and in one hour-long TV special, he was gone.

Recently, there have been rumors and whispers speculating that James may return to the Cleveland Cavaliers when he becomes a free agent in 2014. While many have forgiven James, others have not forgotten the way they felt as the city’s biggest hero — its king — departed, leaving us stunned, angry and disappointed. In fact, the disappointment felt triggered feelings of former disappointment, such as the playoffs where James gave up.

James quit on Cleveland during the playoffs, and he quit on Cleveland when he ditched us. After all, shooting free throws with one’s left, non-dominant hand doesn’t exactly scream of intense dedication.

Furthermore, it seems James may have planned on ditching the city years in advance, back when he played on the 2008 Olympic basketball team alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, now his current teammates.

James conspired to leave Cleveland, gave up in the playoffs and led the city on during his free agency, only to jilt us, dumping us at the altar of hope for the future.

Now, the city has a new star. Night after night, Kyrie Irving has given Cavs fans a reason to cheer and proved Chris Grant to be the best GM in Cleveland right now – though Chris Antonetti’s stock certainly skyrocketed as his Cleveland Indians had an impactful offseason. While some feel that Irving will serve as bait to lure James back, it seems that Irving is perfectly capable of leading the team on his own. The two combined may create a force that could certainly give the Cavs a formidable shot at a title run – or they may create The Decision 2.0.

James took his talents to South Beach and never looked back — until now. It seems “The King” prefers to latch onto other NBA superstars, rather than carry himself to national championships. Now, he has his sights set on Irving, a young, impressionable player whom he can influence. The two may look appealing on the hardwood, but behind closed doors, James may inject Irving with the same cocktail of bad medicine he concoted before he left.

James left Cleveland to combine forces with Wade and Bosh, and that is the only reason he will return — to join Irving in an attempt to right his wrongs and stitch the wounds he inflicted. Once he’s had his fill of Cleveland, he’ll repeat the cycle — give in, give up and leave us all over again.

It’s often said that history tends to repeat itself. Cleveland’s history is scarred, bitter and broken, and welcoming LeBron James back will only lead to more of the same. His highlight reel may be worthy of replay, but his time in Cleveland should never be repeated.