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Touching All the Bases

LeBron James is Setting Cleveland Up for Disappointment Again -- But Why?

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A quick thought on LeBron James's ongoing, tentatively titled "Decision II, Electric Boogaloo: So You Want Me Back, Do Ya?"

I want to get this on record now, because I'm so convinced that this is how it's going to play out that I'd write it in Comic Sans if I could. And Comic Sans is the truth. I bet it's probably even Paul Pierce's favorite font.

Anyway, what's happening here is obvious to me. Is it obvious to you too? He's setting up Cleveland for a second helping of crushing heartbreak. (Well, second helping involving him, anyway. It's about the 103,200,399th helping of crushing heartbreak since Jim Brown led the Browns to the 1964 NFL championship, the city's last pro sports title, and damn, how did those '90s Indians teams never win a World Series, anyway?)

What's funny is that it is actually plausible that a Cavs sequel would appeal to him. There's enough on the roster -- Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Anderson Varajao, wild-card Dion Waiters -- to entice LeBron back. Even though Miami is where he lives and works, Akron remains his home. A Cleveland return would be good for the prodigal son's image, perception and brand.

But even if you squint really hard, it's tough to see him making that choice. No one, not even a native son who probably has twinges of -- well, not regret, but lingering loyalty to both Akron and Cleveland and his first friends as a kid and a professional -- ditches South Beach for Oil Can Boyd's Favorite Foggy Ocean.

I admire LeBron's talent and dedication. He is everything you want in a basketball player. And he seems to be a good man, especially given the warped reality of his formative years.

Still, I can't help but think he's giving Cleveland anything but cruel, irresponsible false hope. This is not just another option; it's an extraordinary wish for a sports city that has had very few fulfilled. He should know that. He does know that.

I just don't know if he's doing it consciously -- I didn't forget that letter, Dan Gilbert -- or completely, stone-numb oblivious to how another rejection would play in Cleveland.

As intriguing as the daydream seems, I'm not one of those fools burning my money betting on Cleveland to win the 2015 NBA title. LeBron will go back to Miami with a couple of his superstar friends. Little else makes sense, and the mission is incomplete, as I'm sure Pat Riley reminded him today. Our best hope is that he's is ruthless enough to cut Dwyane Wade out of this.

As for those twice-forsaken Cavs fans who torched his jersey four years ago? They'll have to buy a second one just so they can light it on fire again, another Cleveland false hope up in smoke.

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