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Tuesday, August 5,2014


By Mark Tudino  

So, he’s gone. And you know who I’m talking about.

Since July, 2010 Miami – and South Florida reallyhas been the center of the professional basketball universe. The Miami Heat ruled the Eastern conference for those last four years, and won two NBA titles to boot. Sure they lost to San Antonio in rather ugly fashion this past June, dropping the last three games by an average of over 20 points (though no one could say they saw this coming, since the series was tied at 1 game apiece leaving Texas, and if not for a faulty air conditioning unit Miami could have been coming home up 2-0) but they would bounce back, right? Sure, there were questions about the team’s age and talent level yet no one could honestly think Lebron James would actually leave the Heat – not now, not when they were still the pre-eminent power in the East and only one or two role players away from contending for another championship.

Yet, in July Lebron let it be known he was opting out of his contract (which he had an absolute right to do); conventional wisdom thought it was done for the purpose of allowing Heat management to have more money to spend on other players, but it soon turned out to be a different story. First, there was the demand for a maximum contract, then meetings with other teams, before the bombshell on that Friday that not only was Lebron leaving – he was going back to Cleveland.

Cleveland. The town he left to learn how to win titles (which he did twice).

Cleveland. The town which burned his jersey, and whose owner left a vitriolic, hateful letter on the team’s website until two days before Lebron made his announcement.

Cleveland. Really? To which I say - OK. Now, mind you this is a Heat season ticket holder speaking, one who goes back to the 15 and 18-win seasons. But returning home is a powerful draw, and legacy is something you can always continue to build upon - it’s not dependent on geography.

As for those who wonder about loyalty, ask yourself this: loyalty to whom? To what? Lebron gave us his best, the prime of his prime - and he delivered. He owes Heat fans nothing.

Heat management was made aware of his decision before the announcement was made public.

So, in the end, he did what a lot of us would want to do, but so few of us have the opportunity. He left for a better work situation (at least in his mind). And before anyone complains about an athlete’s lack of loyalty to team or city, remember this story:

The Brooklyn Dodgers once proposed to trade – to their archrivals – a player who had been instrumental in helping them win their first title in over six decades; arguably, he was the single most important athlete of the 20th century. That’s right – in 1957 Jackie Robinson was presumably traded to the crosstown Giants but retired before the next season began. Keep that fact in mind the next time you want to question any player’s loyalty.

Good luck, Lebron –and thanks for the memories.


Mark Tudino is an attorney with offices in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, whose practice specializes in all areas of civil litigation. He has lived in South Florida for more than 20 years. Prior to attending law school, he was a political and sports reporter for television stations across the country. His career allowed him to cover everything from presidential elections to national championship sports teams, and he still maintains a passion to observe and discuss the world of sports.


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