LeBron James pushed the first logical domino, exercising his option to seek greener pastures. He could still remain in Cleveland, but no Cavaliers fans are breathing easy right now. The flirtation with Los Angeles is real and could turn into an actual mutual relationship at any time. If that happens — or if James goes to Houston, Dallas or any other longshot destination — there should be no burning of jerseys, no acts of rage from a sense of betrayal.
That would be small. And forgetful of all James has done, even though the road was windy and arduous, with some tears and mistakes along the way.
No matter what, James should forever king in Northeast Ohio. He only did it once but that’s enough. Enough to save the long-suffering city from its sports purgatory. Enough to right the perceived wrongs. He returned home as the prodigal one and authored a comeback from 3-1.
Should he have won more than one for his hometown team? Probably. Is his legacy increasingly complicated and open to interpretation? Sure. But just think of how different this Decision will be than the previous one. Think of how raw emotions were then compared to now, when much of Cleveland is waiting with resignation for the other shoe to drop.
Old wounds may sting a little if he leaves. But they won’t gush open and bleed like before. And it won’t be a surprise pain.
If this is it for LeBron in Cleveland, it’s been a good run. And trying run.
He should always be a favored son, if only for what the fans and player have been through together.