With all due respect to our friends in South Beach, King James reigns supreme right now. I’m not talking about the basketball ramifications of LeBron James' decision to leave the Miami Heat and rejoin his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m talking about the way he told the world about it.
More than that, his actions and words epitomize a maturing person who understands he made some errors in the past and was determined to handle things differently this time around.
First, he chose Sports Illustrated as the platform to tell everyone he’s coming home. Going back to ESPN, where he announced "The Decision" to much derision four years ago, would have been ill-advised. This time, he took a much more understated tack, distancing himself from the hubris-filled episode of 2010, but not shying from it either.
"My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball," says James in the Sports Illustrated piece. "I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now." It’s one of many clauses in the piece where he seemingly concedes the errors of his ways.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was brutal in his criticism of James four years ago. He crafted an open letter using words such as "narcissitic" and "cowardly." Of that James says, "I’ve met with Dan face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?"
Just after James joined the Heat four years ago, I penned a column that certainly criticized LeBron, but also noted that the fire and brimstone being hurled his way was a bit much. "This is a 25-year-old kid who displayed bad judgment," I wrote. "If his ‘brand’ is truly and irreparably damaged, perhaps we all need to reconsider how we evaluate such things."
James is now a 29-year-old man who has just taught us a very valuable communications lesson on how to acknowledge past mistakes and actually use them to nail the message the next time the chance presents itself.
Did LeBron James make the right decision in going back to Cleveland? Time will tell. What’s for sure, though, is he made "The Decision" right.