As the Cavs wage war in a losing effort against the Warriors, many experts and analysts are sure that this will be Lebron’s final run with Cleveland and that he will definitely make the most of his free agency by moving on to another team.
Much of this expectation is based on the poor play of his supporting cast in Cleveland, as this is the first time in a long time that Lebron may not make the Finals. The last time that happened, in 2010, was eight years ago with the Cavaliers.
But last time Lebron left the team that he has wanted to play on since he was a kid, that drafted him, in the state he was born in there were a lot more factors at play than just basketball.
Back in 2010, the Cavaliers were the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, and after a Finals appearance last year, many considered them the easy favorite to take it all the way.
After starting off easy series in the first round against the Bulls winning in five games, next came the number four seed Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers raced out to a 2-1 lead with Lebron averaging over 32 points per game.
What they didn’t know was that the Cavaliers had just won their final game of the 2010 season.
Delonte West was a key player on this Cavs squad, who was known as a tough player who contributed game in and game out. It was shortly before Game 4 that Lebron learned something about his trusted teammate that changed the course of that series and of NBA history.
Lebron went from dominating the series to averaging only about 21 points in the final games of the series, as the Celtics went on to win the next three games of the series. Lebron played some of the worst basketball of his career, with a terrible plus/minus, and what many analysts describe as extremely “passive” play.
What did Lebron James learn ahead of Game 4 that would lead to him losing the series in epic fashion? An alleged story surfaced to him and the public, that is widely believed by the majority of basketball experts and writers to be fact based on their sources. Lebron’s trusted teammate Delonte West had an affair with Lebron James’s mother, Gloria James.
This led many to believe the team’s chemistry, concentration, and focus was thrown out of whack with these swirling rumors with their being a clear difference in Lebron’s play.
Leaving Cleveland last time was not just a basketball decision, it was also a personal one. The team was good enough to be a number one seed even if they didn’t get the job done in the playoffs. Lebron is not the kind quit on a team that he pledged to win a championship for.
This time when Lebron’s decision comes around, whether he wins the Finals or not, it will be a lot more difficult than last time. Cleveland can still trade for a variety players in free agency, and their season is not over just yet.
To all of the people who are sure Lebron is leaving this year, they need to look at the factors outside basketball that played such a big role last time. No matter what happens in these playoffs, there is no guarantee Lebron is going anywhere next year.