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3 Biggest Reasons LeBron James Should Have Re-Signed with the Cavs
- Updated: April 24, 2019
LeBron James most likely was thinking that he had a bright future with the Los Angeles Lakers when he signed a four-year, $154-million contract to play under the bright lights of Hollywood.
But after a disastrous 37-45 record for the 2018-19 season, one in which he missed 27 games mostly due to injury, it’s only natural for James to second-guess his decision.
Needless to say, this was a wasted season for James, one in which he neither contended for a championship nor had a team develop its young players into All-Stars. For someone who prides himself in making those around him better, the 16-year veteran was surrounded by teammates that weren’t a good fit for his style of play.
Had he re-signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he may not have misused an entire season let alone get questioned by others about his commitment to winning.
Here are three reasons why James should have stayed a Cavalier.
3. Excelling Under Larry Drew
Tyronn Lue was fired after an 0-6 start with Drew replacing him. Last season, when Lue took a leave of absence because of anxiety issues, Drew took over indefinitely and the Cavs went 8-1 during his short stint as head coach.
He knew just when to pull players when they were no longer effective and when to keep players on the floor when they were making significant contributions to the team beyond the box score.
In contrast, in Lue’s first game back, the Cavs went down by 17 points to the Washington Wizards before rallying for a four-point win. The next game, they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 132-130 after going down by 30 points before making a run that nearly gave them the win.
Lue’s 42-31 record last season clearly showed that the team wasn’t as good as when he was calling the shots.
Had Drew stayed on as coach, the Cavs would have had a better chance against the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Finals. Assuming he coached this team with James on the floor (plus a few trades and free agent signings here and there) there’s no telling how much better this team would have been compared to this year’s Lakers.
2. Big Fish in a Small Pond
With the Cavaliers, James is the undisputed King of Cleveland bar none. Though it’s not one of the major market cities like Chicago, L.A. or New York, the presence of No. 23 turned Cleveland into one of the prime destinations for travelers and tourists.
The city loves him like its own offspring. James is considered by many as the most important sports figure in the area. It’s a place that will admire him forever after he carried the Cavs to a championship in 2016.
Not so much in L.A., where he has to prove himself all over again like he did when he was a promising rookie coming into the league with lofty expectations thrust on his shoulders. Just like that first year with the Cavs, James was unsuccessful in carrying the Lakers to the playoffs.
Unlike in Cleveland, James is only one of many greats to play basketball in the Purple and Gold. The pressure is higher for him to win another title for a franchise that has been pampered by championship banners thanks to players like George Mikan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant.
Perhaps the most significant name on that list is Bryant, his one-time rival and one of the players to whom he is most compared to. By playing in the future Hall of Famer’s old stomping grounds, James is essentially challenging his competitor’s legacy head-on. After a humbling experience this year, he is feeling firsthand what it’s like to fail in the face of his former competitor’s shadow.
If he was three or four years younger, there’s no doubt that the Akron native would have given Lakers fans more reasons to believe that he can turn the fabled franchise around. As a 34-year old, James is battling Father Time, the Lakers’ rich history, and his own legacy of excellence.
Few have had the admiration of a nation from before he was drafted all the way to actually playing in the NBA. James lived up to and surpassed those expectations set on him when he came out of high school to join the Cavaliers on draft night in 2003.
Playing for the Miami Heat taught the preps-to-pros star what it took to win a championship even though it cost his reputation dearly. After four years of being away, Cleveland embraced him once again like a prodigal son. When he finally delivered a championship to the title-starved city in 2016, James elevated his status to arguably one of the top three players all time.
He was the comeback king who returned to fulfill a promise to the city he spurned in 2010. It was the perfect story with the remaining years of his career supposedly just to add icing to the cake. His legacy was set until he decided that there were other kingdoms to conquer.
By playing for another team that didn’t have a single All-Star on its roster, James set himself up for either extreme success or utter failure. Regrettably, it was the latter that awaited him.
Staying in Cleveland would have been the more prudent move for James. While many sympathized with his plight whenever his Cavaliers lost in the Finals to the Golden State Warriors juggernaut, playing for L.A. has made others less forgiving of his downfall.
Now, he has to rebuild his legacy, one that was already secure despite his 3-9 record in the Finals but is now under scrutiny from almost every corner.