LeBron James is not stupid. But leaving the Miami Heat is the King's dumbest decision. It's worse than "the Decision" in 2010, when he moved to the Magic City. He's giving up living in paradise, residing in a state with no income tax, and playing for the most stable, most competitive organization next to the San Antonio Spurs. By going back to Cleveland, LeBron is essentially bowing down to Dan Gilbert, the Cavaliers' owner, who doesn't value James as the league's greatest player other than using him to increase the value of the franchise and sell out Quicken Loans Arena.
In fact, Gilbert is the worst NBA owner next to Donald Sterling. When LeBron left via free agency four years ago, Gilbert acted like a plantation owner angry that his top slave had been freed. Now Gilbert wants to pretend he never dissed LeBron. Shortly before re-signing the NBA's reigning king, the Cavaliers removed from their website the letter Gilbert wrote ripping LeBron's character and integrity.
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Though returning home might seem like a storybook ending to his career, LeBron won't win championships in Cleveland. The Cavaliers may have younger talent, but that supporting cast — even if they eventually sign Ray Allen — is not an improvement over the Heat. And he still has to put up with Gilbert, who has changed coaches four times, including bringing back LeBron's old coach Mike Brown for a disastrous run that ended after one season and a 33-49 record. Now Gilbert has brought in David Blatt, a guy with a ton of overseas coaching experience but none in the NBA.
Leaving Miami is a bigger act of betrayal. Heat owner Micky Arison and Heat president Pat Riley have accommodated LeBron in every way possible, from allowing him to take over team leadership from Dwyane Wade to bringing in the players who have helped LeBron make consecutive runs at the NBA championship. Miami has also given him the resources to improve his game and a young coach in Erik Spoelstra, who has earned his place as the second-longest-tenured coach behind Gregg Popovich.
LeBron's Latest Decision Is Just Dumb
In truth, though, LeBron needed the Heat more than it needed him. Now he'll face an angry, emboldened Miami squad that will still beat the Cavaliers and other teams in the Eastern Conference. He'll be sitting at home while Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and the remaining Heatles head to the NBA Finals for a record fifth straight year.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.