In 2011, LeBron James failed to lead the Miami Heat to its second title in franchise history and faced an unmatched level of criticism in every aspect of basketball.
Fans, peers, analysts and former players piled on the Akron native for not being able to reach the greatest achievement. Since then he has won two NBA championships, two NBA MVPs and two NBA Finals MVPs.
His return to Ohio is a heartwarming story, but there are plenty of reasons for the best player in the world to be even better this season. By any chance did you see James and the Heat in the 2014 Finals?
That’s okay because neither did the San Antonio Spurs who routed the Heat in the most lopsided championship series in league history.
Despite the brotherly connection James shared with Heat star Dwyane Wade he still decided to leave South Beach. Which led to Wade stating at his camp this summer that James is his favorite player to play against.
Not to mention one of James’ foes from his original Cleveland days adding fuel to the flames. Chicago Bulls All-Star Joakim Noah said, “I’m happy for LeBron. He gets to go home; people are happy over there. I really hope we can kick his a** as many times as possible.” Noah openly said back in 2010, how much Cleveland sucks as a city and stated many times how he “hated” the Heat in the last four seasons.
Noah’s teammate Derrick Rose is expected to make his return at full strength for the 2014-2015 season and believes that the Bulls should be the favorite in the East, even when Kevin Love is traded to the Cavs.
James’ decision to play for the Cavs has put him in the driver’s seat alone. Even though Wade battled with health issues and Chris Bosh at times looked like a role player, James was always the leader of the “Big Three” in Miami.
Replace Wade with an All-Star point guard entering his fourth season in the league in Kyrie Irving and arguably the best power forward in the league to replace Bosh in Love is an upgrade. James is back in his comfort zone where he’s spent all but four years of his life and will playing in the arena that he built.
In addition, James has lost ten pounds since the Finals making the already bionic and supreme athlete more fit. He’s brought some friends from South Beach with him in newly-unveiled Cavaliers in Mike Miller and James Jones and realizes the size of winning a championship in Cleveland.
James has increased his shooting percentage in each of his last eight seasons and throughout 2013-2014 lacked a step as a defender. In addition, James has the opportunity to opt out of his two-year $42.1 million contract once again next July.
The writing is on the wall for James to capitalize on everything he can be as a player in year eight in Cleveland.
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