During the 2015 NBA Finals, LeBron James hinted at some extra motivation that was driving him to win a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He wouldn’t talk about what it was until after they won, so when they lost, he sat on it, and the basketball world largely moved on.
Now that he brought a title back to Northeast Ohio, however, LeBron finally opened up about what’s been fueling his fire to ESPN:
“When I decided to leave Miami — I’m not going to name any names, I can’t do that — but there were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career,” James told ESPN.com, just outside the Raiders locker room.
“And that sh*t hurt me. And I know it was an emotional time that they told me that because I was leaving. They just told me it was the biggest mistake I was making in my career. And that right there was my motivation.”
Obviously when a star anywhere near LeBron’s caliber changes teams, feelings are going to be hurt. They burned LeBron’s jersey in Cleveland when he left, after all. But for such a sentiment to come from someone within the Heat organization, which LeBron said he trusted, is a surprising amount of sodium. So, who hurt LeBron on his way out the door?
The ESPN article even goes so far as to guess Pat Riley, the architect of the Heat who, along with Dwyane Wade, helped recruit LeBron to Miami in the first place, and we’re inclined to agree. He’s definitely the kind of guy to both hold a grudge and say what’s on his mind, at least. Next on the list would be a teammate who might have come to Miami to play with LeBron only to be stuck without him and under contract, but Wade and Chris Bosh were too tight with LeBron to burn that bridge. Maybe Juwan Howard? Erik Spoelstra just seems far too nice to say anything like that.
Nah, it’s definitely Pat Riley.