The last season of LeBron James’ first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers was a stressful one for everyone in the organization.
According to former NBA big man Ryan Hollins, everyone associated with the Cavs was walking on eggshells trying to please James and keep him in the fold.
“I think the real frustration from everybody is they felt like they were held captive by LeBron,” Hollins said to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. “There were strict orders that said, ‘Don’t be the guy that makes the mistake that made LeBron leave.’ The equipment man, if LeBron wanted socks, he’d have 15 socks in his locker. Nobody wanted to make that mistake that left a sour taste in LeBron’s mouth. They were walking on pins and needles, and then he winds up leaving anyway. I can’t imagine what the stress was like just working in the organization at the time.”
Starting early in the 2008-09 season, the NBA was abuzz about James’ pending free agency in the summer of 2010 and if he would Cleveland.
The Cavs had the league’s best record in 2009 and ’10, but both seasons were ultimately fruitless, as they failed to reach the NBA Finals.
Once James announced on live TV that he would be signing with the Miami Heat, it was as if he had ripped Cleveland’s heart out of its chest and devoured it. It was yet another tragic incident in a series of incidents that has broken the hearts of Cleveland sports fans over the decades.
The following season, the Cavs were pitiful, as they went on a 26-game losing streak and were embarrassed by opposing teams on many nights.
Of course, the Akron, Ohio native returned to the Cavs in 2014, leading them to their first NBA championship in 2016 and giving the whole saga a happy, cliched ending.