LeBron James disrespected Pat Riley worse than anyone ever and that ain't cool. This isn't Riley's naivety thinking LeBron would return. This isn't Riley miscalculating. This is straight up LeBron and his entourage's ego disrespecting Pat Riley in-his-face.
We need to get rid of this idea that African American men need to constantly show deference to avoid vilification. This idea is deeply connected to the expectations held of African Americans both in slavery and the Jim Crow South.
The decision of LeBron James to return to Cleveland to finish his NBA career and his eloquent rationale will elevate him to the pantheon of American heroes. This strikes a dramatic blow to the "money is everything" mentality that has permeated sports.
The nation has largely decided to paint Carmelo Anthony, an easy target already, as a villain because we've been unable to paint LeBron James as one.
This is and isn't about LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is about a man growing up and breaking free. To understand the magnitude of LeBron's decision, we need to examine the Decision.
There was shock and surprise as Twitter blew up around 12:30 p.m. EDT on Friday as LeBron James announced his much-awaited decision via Sports Illustrated "I'm Coming Home." I was not surprised at all. I totally understood. Where you grew up is part of your soul.
The big problem is that Lebron made choices in 2010 that ignited the anger on both sides. Those who worshipped him felt betrayed. Those who were jealous of him were proved to be right. Everyone got to hate him. And that felt good for a while.
We have come to believe that sports professionals are disconnected from real life, that they seek only short-term profits and, as mercenaries for hire, they will play wherever the money is best and the lights shine the brightest. Could it really be that some professional athletes have a heart as well?
This is not a conquering hero returning home. This is a conquering ego. But hey, it was fun while it lasted, ticket prices will go down, we can't win them all, and maybe, just maybe, the national media will stop referring to Miami as South Beach.
After the way they've acted in recent years, LeBron James might want to take a pass on coming back to Cleveland. However, it seems that LeBron has shown more maturity than the people who cursed his name four years ago.
Let's put this into perspective with one sentence...
I don't know where James will play next season, but his current free agency offers an opportunity to make some amends to Cleveland fans, even if he decides to play elsewhere.
It was an NBA career with 977 games played and two championships won. Yet, beyond the games and accolades, perhaps the biggest mark newly retired NBA player, Shane Battier, made during his career was off of the court.
There are several factors aside from money and basketball, primarily related to his marketability, which will weigh heavy on James and his agent's minds in coming days and weeks.
It's almost comical to think back to the first season of the Heat's Big Three and remember that there was a serious power struggle between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Fans everywhere were legitimately unsure of who was truly the better player and who should be the alpha dog.
So the World Cup is on and in North America the sports calendar is clear. The next three weeks will no doubt produce many great matches, wonderful play, and a few surprises, and the world will be enthralled by the action.