Cleveland Cavaliers Now Understand Why LeBron James Took Talents to South Beach

Greg StarddardContributor IIIJune 23, 2012

The Chosen One made quite a statement didn't he?

LeBron James' actions spoke loud and clear to his critics, South Florida, sports analysts and most importantly, the city of Cleveland, Ohio. He made the toughest decision of his life two years ago and it paid off handsomely.

A lot of people can learn some things from LBJ's career path and recent decisions. He deserves some serious props, whether you like him or not.

Take away all the millions, the endorsements and adulation and a professional athlete wants a ring. Nothing more. Nothing less. That's the one thing Cleveland couldn't give it's native son. Okay, native son isn't totally accurate because LeBron is from nearby Akron, but Cleveland still claimed him and rightfully so.

Unfortunately, owner Dan Gilbert couldn't hire the right front office staff to build a championship team around LeBron and he bolted.

Before you rake me over the hot coals, I understand the Miami Heat stacked their team with three all-stars. I understand three all-stars emailed each other and committed to signing with the same team. So what? They wanted to win and they came up with a plan to do it. Sounds like the perfect business model to me.

Allow me to state my "right" to go any further. I grew up in Ohio and I know how the people there feel about things like this. Ohioans stick together. It's all about close knit families, Midwestern values and keeping one of their own.

At the end of the day, they didn't have enough to keep him and the kid left for the lure of the bright city lights. It happens everyday in this country as immensely talented kids grow up and flee the nest.

The Cavs tried to build around LeBron, but couldn't get the right players. Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams and boys couldn't get it done, despite LeBron leading the Cavs to the Finals. He game them seven good seasons, but when Pat Riley calls, you pick up the phone.

Riley is a straight up baller in a businessman's Italian cut, custom made suit. He made a business pitch to arguably the best basketball player in the world and got the response he wanted. The opportunity to play with D-Wade and good friend Chris Bosh. How could he have passed that up?

The Cavs couldn't attract those type of players and wasted money on an aging, but respectable Jamison and an unproven point guard in Williams. What would you have done? If it's about getting a ring, then this was a no-brainer. Right?

But Lebron and the Heat learned it took extra work to win the championship. It took them two years, but the hard work paid off. Give credit to Heat owner Mickey Arison, Riley and still-growing head coach Eric Spoelstra. They put together a plan, doled out the cash, and promoted the hell out of their big three.

The "Decision" television special, capacity filled rally at the American Airlines Arena with the three stars hyping the team wasn't by accident.  Remember Riley promising back to back championships when he coached the Lakers back in the 80's? That's how he rolls.

I'm not suggesting Gilbert slick back his hair, get some suits custom made or create his own shirt with the collar named after him, but perhaps he should borrow a page or two from Riley.

The Cavs never had a chance in retaining LeBron two years ago, unless they made bold, sound and costly player and front office moves, and Gilbert wasn't trying to hear that. He is what he is and that's okay. He's doing it his way, and that's fine.

The only mistakes he made was trashing in the media and promising the Cavs would win a championship before Lebron. Uh, not so fast Danny boy.

The climb to the top wasn't easy for LeBron.

No one wants to see his jersey being burned on the city streets not far from where you grew up. No one wants the unending criticism about signing with a team that gives you a better chance of getting a ring. No one wants the sports broadcasters and writers saying you can't finish in the 4th quarter. No one wants to hear they have no heart when you've been dreaming about the Larry O' Brien trophy since leading your high school team to the State Championship in Ohio.

LeBron was pummeled nearly everyday until the clock expired in Game 5 of the Finals. The haters were hanging on to their venom.

OKC could come back, despite no team every doing so after being down 3-1 in Finals history. Dropping 45 against the Celtics in the second round and setting the stage for eliminating Boston wasn't enough. Jumping out to a commanding lead against the Thunder didn't silence these clowns.

Heck, most of the so called sports analysts on a certain cable sports channel had the Celts beating the Heat. The same guys had OKC trouncing Miami. Remember?

The Stephen A. Smiths,  Magic Johnsons, and Michael Wilbons of the world had the Thunder winning the title. Remember?

Boy, now I understand why the LeBron Bandwagon is swaying back and forth and I'm hanging onto my seat. Why?  Because so many people are jumping on. Look out! There's Stephen A. flinging himself aboard. And here's Wilbon sprinting towards the bandwagon looking desperate.

It seemed the haters were holding out for some hope, until LeBron took over the last two games of the Finals. It was a wrap once Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, and Norris Cole started dropping threes.

The Heat defense shut down Sixth Man of The Year James Harden, frustrated Kevin Durant and allowed Russell Westbrook to jack up any shot he wanted. The Heat coaching staff knew the Thunder couldn't beat them with Westbrook being Westbrook.

Lebron made a calculated, smart and emotional decision when he left Cleveland. But he knew it was the right move for his career, his family, and his brand.

He's thriving in South Florida.

He's taking care of his kids and his fiance. He stays out of the police blotter, donates his money to charities in Ohio and Florida and is the kind of image the NBA embraces and will continue to do so in the coming years.

In hindsight, the "Decision" looked kind of corny to me, but I wasn't offended. A poorly produced television special didn't deserve the kind of criticism it got. Saying not one, not two, not three, etc.., was all in fun. But people lost their little minds over it. Relax people. He was having fun.

Who knows how many rings he'll get. Saying "people would have to go back to their lives" wasn't the kind of statement I would have advised him making in a news conference last year after losing to the Mavs, but I think he's learned not to say that again.

I have family that still don't like the King. Of course, they're Washington Wizards fans who watched LeBron eliminate them from the playoffs several years in a row when the team had Jamison, Caron Butler, and Gilbert "I'll Busta' A Cap in Your A**" Arenas.

I understand their frustration as Wizards fans, but get over it and move on. The Wiz were beaten by the games' best player, and if you're gonna get beat, get beat by the best.

I hope the LeBron Haters can finally move on. He's a champion and the team is built for more championships down the road. Repeat? At this point I'll say yes, they can repeat. But LeBron isn't going anywhere and deserves all that's coming to him.

It appears Cavs owner Gilbert has moved on after posting congrats to the Heat and the Thunder on Twitter. That was kind of classy. Hopefully the critics will follow suit.


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