There once was a man who had two sons and divided his property between them. But the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
So begins "The Parable of the Prodigal Son," which bears a distinct resemblance to LeBron James' decision to return home to the Cleveland Cavaliers in July 2014, after spending years of his career "squandering his wealth in wild living" (or perhaps, building his wealth in wild living) with the Miami Heat.
In a letter about his decision to return home to the Cavs published in Sports Illustrated, he writes, "Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son."
Despite these deeply held family ties, however, he still left in 2010, to build his career and success with the Miami Heat. Now — four years later — he's back.
However, his decision to return may not be easy. When he left Cleveland, fans burned his jerseys, trashed his memorabilia and defiled his name in public.
"On the night of his televised decision, fans burned replicas of his jersey and tossed memorabilia in dumpsters," Scott Cacciola wrote in the New York Times. "Dan Gilbert, the Cavaliers’ owner, posted a vitriolic letter to the city on the team’s website in which he referred to James as 'our former hero' and described his move to Miami as a 'cowardly betrayal.'"
Yet, this time around, the Cleveland Cavaliers, under new coach, David Blatt, are taking him in again, despite his decision to leave just years earlier.
A poll on Cleveland.com covering Northeast Ohio shows that 71.23 percent of people polled would like LeBron to rejoin the Cavs.
"I definitely want LeBron back because that would be the key to get us to the next level," said fan Roger Gallo to Cleveland.com. "He's obviously the best player in the world, and we can win a championship with him."
But the resemblance to "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" may break down here. In the Biblical parable, the son who had left comes back in shambles, with no money to his name and no success. LeBron now comes back with multiple championship wins under his belt, and a few high-profile friends.
"The 29-year-old went to Miami, won two titles and repaired his reputation," Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick write for USA Today Sports. "He joined friends and fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in forming a historic trio, but the Big 3 lasted only four years. He is a four-time MVP, two-time Finals MVP and Hall of Fame-bound superstar."
Still LeBron shows remorse.
At the end of his letter explaining his decision, he writes, "In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have."
But, I'm not so sure that's true. The leadership of the Cleveland Cavaliers have accepted LeBron back to the team, although not necessarily for all of his previous actions.
The chance that he may leave again like he once did still stands. But for now the team leaders seem to have the grace to accept LeBron for the person he is and has become while he spent his years away with the Miami Heat — for better or for worse.
Brittany Binowski is a senior web producer for Deseret National. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet her online @binowski.
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