For the second time this decade, the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans have had to come to terms with losing LeBron James. But this time around, it was a lot easier to stomach, given that LeBron had delivered on his promise and brought the city of Cleveland its first championship in more than 50 years. Bitter resentment has given way to solemn gratitude.
It also helped soften the blow that he chose a more elegant farewell than in 2010, when fans felt humiliated by the public spectacle of The Decision. The organization itself is also in a bit more stable condition today. After his first departure, the team plunged head-first into lottery limbo, and though it netted them some high draft picks, they were left flailing away until his return in 2014.
Today, the Cavs head into the future with a haul of assets from their midseason acquisition from the Lakers in February, not to mention a bona fide superstar in Kevin Love, who opted to sign a long-term extension with the team this summer when he could’ve easily sought out a better situation. Yet, before agreeing to sign his $120 million contract extension this summer, Love wanted to hear from Cavs brass that they weren’t going into full rebuild mode.