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LeBron’s return to Cleveland Tuesday sparks more crazy “return in 2014” speculation

Mar 21, 2013, 2:15 AM EDT

A Cleveland Cavaliers fan interrupts play during their NBA basketball game against Miami Heat in Cleveland Reuters

If you don’t think some Cavaliers fans are a little bit over the top about the slim possibility of LeBron James returning to Cleveland in 2014, you didn’t see the shirt of the guy who ran on the court in the fourth quarter Wednesday night of the Heat’s dramatic win in Cleveland. The fool disrupted the game before he was hauled off in handcuffs, all while wearing a T-shirt saying:

“LeBron 2014 Come Back.”

After the game LeBron told reporters the guy said he missed him and asked him to come back.

Let’s put aside the fact that running on the court mid-game may not be the best way to convince a player your idea is a good one, this guy is a tip of a Cleveland iceberg. There is a real sense there — and in some other circles around the NBA — that this could happen.

LeBron didn’t quell that speculation Wednesday at shootaround when he refused to discuss it altogether. Here’s the quote, via Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

“My only focus now is to win another championship, I can’t worry about speculation or rumors,” James said recently when the subject was raised. “What we’re doing on the floor right now is what it’s all about. We’re playing good ball right now. We’re trying to win a championship.”

If you know anything about how over-zealous fans think, you know that not talking about it means you are tacitly confirming everything they are thinking.

Does a game like Wednesday then give the Cleveland fans more hope? In their minds you bet it does. Sure, LeBron got booed a little, but he saw that the Cavs have a good core of hard working players, right? He realizes he can win here, right?

No. Not to throw cold water on the shooter on the grassy knoll theory, but no. The reality is the Miami Heat remain far and away the leaders in the 2014 LeBron sweepstakes. Everyone else is grasping at straws.

It’s not hard to draw up the LeBron returns to Cleveland scenarios. Even regular Miami Heat beat writers like our friend Ira Winderman writing for NBC will help you connect the dots — LeBron can opt out in 2014, the Cavaliers have 2014 cap space, LeBron said he would consider coming back one day, his new agent/manager is based in Cleveland and LeBron spoke highly of Kyrie Irving at All-Star weekend.

All that can’t be a coincidence, right? It’s not like every coach and player in the NBA speaks highly of Kyrie Irving… oh, wait, yes they do. It’s not like LeBron’s new agent is both from Cleveland and has another client there (Tristan Thompson), so he would likely locate there anyway. It’s not like a bunch of teams have 2014 cap space, including the Lakers. It’s not like… oh, you get the idea.

LeBron is almost certainly going to opt out in 2014 — he will want the security of a longer five-year deal (and he can get more money, if he so chooses). Money is not a big factor — Lebron is a max player, he can get that or take less if he chooses, and he can get it anywhere (plus he makes far more off the court in endorsements anyway).

What he will do is make a decision based on his legacy and winning titles (which go hand-in-hand). The win streak they are on will be part of that Heat legacy.

So would jumping ship to another team, leaving another fan base angry, really help him with that legacy? While you can make a case it will be hard with the salary cap for Miami to surround LeBron with the same talent he has enjoyed so far. Of course, those same rules apply to other teams as well. Plus, convincing guys to come to South Beach for less money and to win rings is not all that hard.

Most importantly, do you really think LeBron is leaving his buddy Dwyane Wade, especially if they win another title or two here in the next couple years? With LeBron’s newfound maturity may be a sense of loyalty. To his friends, to the organization that got him rings.

But we are jumping the gun here. LeBron has to decide what to do by June 30, 2014, what to do. He doesn’t fully know what he will do then (things can change). Although next season he’s going to have to address this in a more concrete way than “I’m not going to talk about it.” Otherwise the distraction will be too big.

Bigger than crazy guys running on the court. But that’s where we are now.

  1. mungman69 - Mar 21, 2013 at 5:26 AM

    If he has bad knees he can come to Philly.

  2. davidly - Mar 21, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    So does the lumbered Dealy Plaza allusion mean that he’ll be wearing a Heat uniform in spite of its being obvious to the vast majority of people watching that he’s really scoring points for Cleveland?

    You’re a lone nut, Kurt.

  3. ryanrockzzz - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    Sports writers are always really bothered by fans running onto the field during games. It’s funny what grinds the gears.

    • ryanrockzzz - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:09 AM

      Or in this case, a hardwood surface.

    • hehateme2 - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:53 AM

      He’s found a new home now…. get used to it.

    • therealroman - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      so true. Jesus over here in Europe it happens all the time in football. I saw an idiot running up to Messi and hugging him a couple of months ago. As long as no one gets hurt i think it’s pretty funny when that stuff happens

    • kingbeason52 - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      “You know what really grinds my gears”
      -Peter Griffin

  4. mp4philly - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    I can’t wait for the “The Decision II”

  5. 1972wasalongtimeago - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    Google the Dan Gilbert letter, and then tell me whether or not you think LeBron plays for Cleveland again. Listen to how LeBron recalls and describes the exact day he came back to Cleveland for the first time and how the “fans” treated him and tell me whether or not you think he’s going to play for Cleveland again.

    You want him back now, but the truth of the matter is that when you burned his jersey in the streets, you burned the bridge from Miami to Cleveland as well. In ’14, when he either decides to stay in Miami or to take his talents elsewhere, you’ll only have yourselves and your owner to blame when the “elsewhere” isn’t Cleveland.

    • heat256 - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      I’m torn. As a Heat fan who has had the pleasure of getting to watch him up close these last 2 plus seasons, I am in awe of what he brings to a team. But, I also know I can’t whine if he decides to leave. He brought us one title already, and may deliver another before it’s all said and done, so if he decides to leave – if Wade and Bosh decide it’s time to leave as well – then it’s his right. I care about the team, not the players. After the Big Three either sign elsewhere or retire or get traded, the focus will be on how to keep the team competitive.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        If he goes, we’ve gotta be cool about it. He owes us nothing. We owe him. We owe him more than we ever can repay.

      • jacobstevens20 - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        1972 and heat256- you guys are good fans. for real. more people should look at it the way you guys do. refreshing.

        that being said, i hate the heat forever no matter what. see yall in boston in may <3

    • nobandwagonridersallowed - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      @ 1972wasalongtimeago… You are right on with that one. The ONLY way LeBron thinks about returning to Cleveland as a player is if there were a new owner of that team! The Owner & so-called fans showed their true colors when he said what he said, and they had a barn fire with his jersey. I was always taught to believe a person when they show you a particular side of them.

      So to those Cleveland fans that we’re upset yet civilized about his decision to move on, if you had the slightest hope your beloved King James would return in 2014, just give it up and place the blame where it needs to be; @ FAT MOUTH, DAN GILBERT!

      Even if he leaves Miami, it won’t be a return to Cleveland… Kyrie Irvin won’t win a ring there either. IMO

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        I think that if LeBrom leaves Miami, it’ll be because he secretly (but obviously) LOATHES Jason Jackson.

    • lmoneyfresh - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      That’s water under the bridge at this point. I highly doubt that LBJ cares about that at this point. I think in the end though, Lebron goes back and tries to win a title for Cleveland. Just a hunch, but I think it happens.

    • acdc363 - Mar 21, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Well said. I coulda sworn as a Celtic fan I’m supposed to hate Heat fans but you’re a very humble bunch!

  6. miamatt - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    Well things are going so poorly in Miami, it’s not a stretch to think LeBron would…. oh, wait…

    • acdc363 - Mar 21, 2013 at 2:31 PM

      This is exactly why all this talk about Lebron to [ ] in 2014 makes me laugh! Its gotta be one of the absolute last things on this dude’s mind right now.

  7. canehouse - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:12 AM

  8. coltzfan166 - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    The reason he left was because he wanted to win a championship. He has finally found a team that he can do so, so why the hell would he want to leave?

  9. DonRSD - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    He can’t leave Miami. Playing for 3 teams will tarnish his legacy & he knows it.
    LBJ will retire a Heat and I love it.
    LET’S GO HEAT!!!

    • bucrightoff - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:25 AM


      That’s 3 teams?

      • lalord - Mar 21, 2013 at 3:06 PM





    • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Mar 21, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      Shaquille O’neal arguably one of the best centers of all time
      (Did i miss any?)

      STILL one of the best Centers of all time…nobody’s gonna care how many teams he played for

  10. ljl2 - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    I didn’t like it when media kept talking about his free agency two years before it last time. Thought it was disrespectful to the cavs and the cavs fan base. Feel the same way this time for the heat. Can we please just wait until 2014 to discuss it? National media has talked about it more than local Cleveland media. Don’t let one idiot running onto the court be the representation of the rest of us.

  11. bucrightoff - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Besides the coming home angle, picture putting LeBron with Kyrie Irving and a very young and talented Cleveland team. For as hated as he is and how all that went down, he’d be right back to God status if he brought Cleveland its first sports title since sliced bread.

  12. robones - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    LBJ will retire a Heat and this is why: Every great player legendary player is known for the team he played; Michael Jordan a Bull, Magic Johnson, a Laker, Larry Bird a Celtic, etc., etc. What team would LBJ be known for if he jumps ship to yet another team? The greatest of players play for either one or two teams MAX because they want to establish a legacy. If Lebron keeps jumping ships, he will never be really associated with any team and he knows this. He will retire a Heat because of Pat Riley. The greatest GM in sports. Pat Riley knows and LBJ knows that Pat will always be able to put quality players around him. Pat Riley is an incredible instinctive scouter. He knows what to look for.

    The only reason why Cleveland has had good players recently is because they HAVE SUCKED since LBJ left. They have managed to get high lottery draft picks but this is the easy way to build a team. The management team had no idea how to make a competitive team around LBJ when LBJ was there! That’s why he left and that’s why he will NEVER COME BACK. Of course lets not forget Dan Gilbert and the Jersey burning actions of Cleveland city. Any man with an ounce of ego will never accept coming back. And we are talking about the greatest basketball player walking on earth right now, imagine his ego… yeah ain’t happening.

  13. byrdstheword82 - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Lebron was with Cleveland 7 seasons and only made it to the playoffs. His first year with the Heat, he made it to the finals, second year he won his first championship ring. This year, he’s well on his way to getting his second ring. So why would he want to go back to Cleveland? Yes, they have Kyrie Irving, and the rest of the squad are pretty good, but not good enough to win a championship. Lets stop speculating what he will do and just enjoy what he is doing now.

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 22, 2013 at 2:48 AM

      LeBron did make a finals while in Cleveland.

  14. 8nflfan7 - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM


    • claymatthewsisonsteroids - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      Kurt, use your real name when commenting on a post.

      • Kurt Helin - Mar 22, 2013 at 2:48 AM

        I do.

  15. jimmymarlinsfan - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    He isn’t leaving Miami. Just not going to happen. Pat Riley has built something very special down there and Lebron isn’t leaving that sense of loyalty people feel around Pat Riley and Mickey Arison. Just stop with these stupid articles

  16. 4thquartermagic - Mar 21, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    Not going to happen.

    Pretty sure the owner of the Cavs has too much pride to swallow all the crow and venom he spit out when Lebron left.

    The biggest obstacle isn’t whether Lebron wants to go back, its the guy who would be the one signing the blank check.

  17. bigtrav425 - Mar 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    please for the love of god….stop with this BS…this scumbag trader James is not coming back nor do we want him back…

    • byrdstheword82 - Mar 21, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      Aww, and here comes the scumbag Cleveland Fan. What makes him a scumbag? The fact that he left you guys to better himself and seek out a ring, one that he received in 2 seasons with the Heat, and could NEVER accomplish in the 7 seasons he devoted himself to the Cavs. You guys need to stop with all this hatred as if Lebron owes you guys something. Lets just be real for a minute, NO ONE KNEW WHO THE CAVS WERE UNTIL LEBRON CAME. He literally put you guys on the map. And do trust if he wanted to come back, you guys would throw a parade for him, and old Danny Boy would put a huge “WELCOME HOME KING” banner hanging in the stadium.

  18. djigel - Mar 21, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    I think what gets lost in all of these stories and ESPN manufactured 3 minute pieces about Cleveland – is that the majority of us in Cleveland don’t really care all that much. You have Dan Gilbert (a moron), this kid running onto the court, and the people from Cleveland who are on websites posting who simply hate the man. I still watch the Cavs, love what Kyrie is doing, wonder if Byron Scott falls asleep sometimes in the middle of quarters – but I don’t have a LeBron voodoo doll under my pillow, wish that he would get hurt, or quite honestly, spend that much time thinking about him.

    As a Cavs fan, I loved LeBron when he was here. When he left, I was bummed for a day or two, then I moved on with my life. I didn’t burn anything, cry, call into radio shows, etc – I still feel he is the best player in the NBA and likely will end up as the best of all time. I don’t hate him, hold ill will against him, or actually root against him. I was happy he won a ring (wish he would have one it with Big-Z on the roster though) and am still awed by some of the things he can do. Now, I’ve never cared for Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh looks downright goofy and awkward to me – but at the end of the day, if the Heat win 3 rings in a row, good for them – it literally has no bearing on my life or the life of 90% of Clevelanders. If he comes back to Cleveland, good for him and the Cavs. If he doesn’t, oh well. If he goes to Brooklyn, LA, NY – I would too – they (along with Miami) are great cities to be young and rich in….. (and yes – for the record, Cleveland…not so much)

    All I ask is to just keep things in perspective and not think that when he poops all of Cleveland collectively holds their breath. and hangs on his every movement (despite what people on this and other sites might portray) – it simply just isn’t the reality.

    • nobandwagonridersallowed - Mar 21, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      @ djigel… I totally respect that. I’m 100% the same way about my teams

  19. fotydaze - Mar 21, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Chefon has shown that his soft ass will go where ever he can and do whatever is needed to make life easy for himself, don’t be surprised when he ends up in okc

  20. 1heatedtoombrayduh - Mar 21, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    I will go on record as saying that I have no idea what he will do AT THE END OF 2014.

    Hell i may not even be alive by then..all i care about is this year.

    I wont sit here and act like i KNOW what lebron is going to do, but i will say that if he leaves, im still a heat fan first and foremost..
    I wish him the best, but can we please get through this season and next before all of the rumors surface again?

  21. doctordunkenstein - Mar 21, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    who knows where he’ll go in 2014…but i can tell u one thing, if The Decision part 2 airs on ESPN, we’ll all be watching!!!

  22. wgray981 - Mar 21, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    LeBron forever tarnished his legacy by basically cheating his way to a superteam. I don’t care if he wins 10 championships, he took the easy way out. No respect from me.

    • byrdstheword82 - Mar 22, 2013 at 9:19 AM

      What, the what? How did he cheat his way to a superteam?

  23. badintent - Mar 22, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    LBJ has stated he wants to be the first billlionaire in sports. that means he plays in either LA or New York come max time to max out sponsorship, biz connections(see Magic Johnson) or Buy The Shanghai team , and play PG, sell his shoes, clothing and everyting else to 2 billion Chinese, 125 Million Japanese, and another 1 billion folks that have nothing better else to do.Only Golden State Warriors has the internet company connections, LBJ buys 20 % of Facebook or Google or Apple

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