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PUSKAS: Will LeBron, Cleveland reunite?



Published: Sun, July 6, 2014 @ 12:09 a.m.

Every other tweet this weekend seems to be about LeBron James and his next Decision.

Stay in Miami?

Return to Cleveland?

Go somewhere else?

Social media and news media alike are buzzing with LeBron James news, which is both riveting and odd. It’s riveting because James is the best player in the NBA (as much as his critics hate to admit it) and odd because there is no real news to report.

If anything is happening, it’s behind the scenes, much like it was in 2010 when James was a free agent in the final year of his contract with Cleveland.

We’ve seen this before. Now Cleveland is seeing it from a different perspective. So is Miami, which is nice.

There seems no middle ground for Cavaliers fans. Either you’d welcome LeBron back with open arms or you won’t watch the team at all if he comes back.

Yeah, sure.

The Decision was a joke and the resulting criticism of James was justified in many ways. But if LeBron and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert — and supporting characters in both camps — work out the details of a return to Cleveland, how long do you think it will take for (almost) all to be forgiven?

The ink wouldn’t even be dry on the contract.

The vitriol was never about James leaving. Plenty of others left Cleveland for other places. We’ve been there and done that.

Jim Thome left after saying they’d have to tear the Indians jersey off his back and we’re putting up a statue of the guy. Well, to be fair, we aren’t building the statue. The Indians are.

But that speaks to Cleveland’s forgiving nature.

Albert Belle left.

Manny Ramirez left.

Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia were traded before they could leave. Victor Martinez was traded and cried on live TV.

I can remember the day I found out then-Browns QB Brian Sipe had agreed to a contract with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL after the 1983 season. Some people have other reasons for disliking Donald Trump. That’s mine.

Bernie Kosar didn’t want to leave, but Bill Belichick and Mike Lombardi wanted him gone.

People leaving Cleveland is nothing new, but sometimes they come back.

Thome did and he was cheered even though he clearly was no longer the player he was when he left.

The difference is LeBron is very much in his prime. He’s almost 30 and you figure he has several MVP-caliber seasons still to come. Without him, the Cavaliers have some rising talent with Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins and others. With him, Cleveland instantly becomes the center of the NBA universe and the Cavaliers are contenders again.

The biggest question will be answered behind the scenes. Maybe it has already happened.

Can James and Gilbert put the ugliness of the summer of 2010 behind them? Can they apologize, swallow some pride and team up a second time to try to bring a title to Cleveland?

Will Gilbert issue a news release in comic sans font if it happens?

Write Vindicator Sports Editor Ed Puskas at epuskas@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.


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