Why I Love Return Of The King – LeBron James, The Cavs & The Greatest Comeback In NBA History

Sports is a game of hyperbole and of frequent changes.

When the Big 3 of Dwyane Wade, Bosh, and James joined up for Miami in 2010 the league seemed destined to be ruled by the “Heatles”.

After winning a second consecutive championship while walking to the locker room David Fitzdale, Heat assistant, after giving the Finals MVP a handshake asked “Did you say too many?”.

LeBron James, excited and hyped, responded “I don’t know man. Keep giving motivation, I need it. Keep doubting me [expletive]”

The Miami Heat were on top of the world for the second year.

After losing in the most embarrassing fashion and having their star player seem lost, as James turned in the worst Finals performance a superstar even had, they turned it around with a championship against the young Thunder team with a core of Kevin Durant, Westbrook and Harden, then took on the seasoned San Antonio Spurs led by Tim Duncan who was undefeated in Finals play, including a win against a James led Cavs team.

Who would’ve known in just a year everything would change.

“In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”

— LeBron James, I’m Coming Home essay

Return Of The King takes a look at LeBron James’ decision to leave Miami and go with the Cavs.

But this book doesn’t just stop at The Return, the reader is transported to the ups and downs of his second tenure culminating in ending a 52 year drought for Cleveland sports.

This book, though great, I can’t review without thinking about the current state of the league.

Similar to the beginning of the story LeBron James is going from losing in the Finals against a team that is superior and a realization of how the league changed.

Return Of The King gives a behind the curtain look at the personalities of those playing and showed how the Cleveland Cavaliers went from being a league laughingstock to competing against a 73-9 behemoth in Golden State.

As a LeBron fan it was great hearing more about his mindset and it was confirmation of a few things that were either beliefs or rumors about King James.

He runs his NBA career like a business, when thinking about going back to his home state his team dubbed their consideration a “legacy play”.

He was one of the first who realized it was smarter to have the freedom in free agency especially with a looming television deal that would bring billions into the league.

This book also showed a common belief that he has power in the Cavs organization.

He’s said his next goal is to own a franchise after retirement and he’s practically learning on the job while playing, he’s a basketball savant who knows markets, the history of the game and what value he brings to a team.

Though right, when reading it’s frustrating but surprising seeing how much power he actually held.

He was criticized early on of omitting recent #1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins from his return letter but the book revealed he was overly optimistic that the Cavs could pull off keeping both Wiggins and still trade for Kevin Love.

And though he could confidently say he’s not a ‘coach killer’ or that he got David Blatt fired the story shows how much of his play, body language and words have weight around the team.

There are really great vignettes where the authors tell how key players got to where they are from the perspective of where they came from.

It makes sense now why Dion Waiters plays the way he does or that a simple addition to a team like Channing Frye could bring a entire team together.

In any story there’s conflict and drama and this is no different.

From LeBron’s decision to return effecting the organizations plans for the future from the shift or rebuilding with a core of Andrew Wiggings, Irving and Blatt to a win now mentality bringing in Kevin Love and spending an obscene about of money to accommodate the desire to win.

“Gilbert had spent $43M in luxury taxes during James’ first tenure. His willingnessss to lay out cash was legendary within the NBA, whether it was players, coaches…Gilbert left no frontier unexplored when it came to pampering his team”

— Return Of The King, p. 39

It’s truly heartbreaking seeing how a simple decision can affect so much and seeing the ruthless side to business.

There’s a call of loyalty from sports leagues that aren’t carried out by the executives.

There’s an inherent hypocrisy from the Cavs being upset that LeBron left but they traded fan favorite Anderson Varejo.

This book does a very great job of describing the action of the games, being a fan and watching the past seven runs that LeBron James has made to the Finals it was nice being transported back to the action and knowing what led up to those moments made it show much sweeter.

Now that I feel this era of LeBron James dominance and the Cavs winning championships is in danger, from losing in the last Finals decisively to Kyrie Irving leaving to a conference rival, it’s great to look back.

I love documentaries and though there’s Believeland and even the Cavs Championship documentary itself I feel this is the best resource to look back and remember that incredible run from initially showing an amazing resolve after losing both Kyrie and Kevin Love to injuries all the way to coming from the brink of elimination and becoming the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a NBA championship.

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