There seems to be a fairly standard career arc for fan-favorite NBA star players (or fan favorites in any sport, really). The player becomes a fan favorite because he’s seen as the underdog; the player eventually achieves a consensus level of fame and notoriety; and then, the player finally realizing his worth, eventually leaves for a better deal with another tea.
What happens in the aftermath of a player leaving for greener pastures defines the fanbase and the franchise of the player’s original home more so than the team. If they act like Cleveland did in LeBron’s initial return to the Quicken Loans arena, they could be branded as ungrateful fans. If they handle it like Miami did upon Dwyane Wade’s return, the fanbase and the franchise looks like a million dollars and whatever the current definition of “classy” may be.
Which brings the story to Kyrie Irving’s return to Cleveland in less than 24 hours. The fans won’t like what Irving said about Cleveland not being a “real sports town,” but at the same time he’s been the sidekick to one of the greatest to ever play the game. Plus there’s the whole 3-point dagger over Steph Curry, which sealed the first major professional championship for the Ohio region in almost 60 years.