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And Another Thing

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LeBron betrays Miami!

Miami, of course, is in shock. Trading South Beach for the Cuyahoga? Palm trees for wind chills? And, hey, LeBron, how 'bout those mojitos?

So sad this morning, the heartbreak in Miami. Everyone's writing/talking/bloviating about LeBron James' return home, about his heartfelt love letter of Northeast Ohio, about ... well, about how he might not be the selfish (bleep) all those Northeast Ohioans thought he was four years ago.

But nobody's talking about poor Miami.

This is because, first of all, poor Miami will always be, well, Miami, so it's hard to feel very sorry for it. You lost LeBron? What a shame. We'll all be thinkin' about ya when you're going to Heat games in January in board shorts and flipflops.

Besides, this is America, isn't it? The free enterprise system at its most free? The land of opportunity for everyone, not just the cabal of rich guys who thought it would be cool to own a sports franchise?

And so spare me any rumblings, if there are any, that LeBron is an opportunist just flitting from one potential championship scenario to another. Of course he is. So what? Isn't that what we're about in this country, bettering your situation whenever and however you can?

Besides, in this particular instance, there's something rare at work here: A man whose talent has given him unlimited options choosing love over money. If there were any doubt LeBron felt and still feels remorse for how badly he botched the deal four years ago, there should be none now.

He is, finally, making amends by choosing Cleveland over a major media/endorsement/cash flow market. Who does that in this day and age? If this were all just about LeBron (and it never has been; he took a pay cut to play in Miami with his buds Bosh and Wade), would he have made this choice?

But of course, free agency being what it is, one good turn doesn't happen without someone else feeling you've done them a bad turn. And so there will be some -- not many, though, after the way LeBron did things this time -- who'll fault him for bailing on the Heat because he didn't want to stay and help rebuild an aging team.

That hardly anyone does that these days, or in fact has done it for a long time, seems to get lost. LeBron gave Cleveland seven years. Then he gave Miami four years, four Finals appearances and two titles. Now he's going back to Cleveland to square the books the only way he knows how, by trying to help the Cavaliers build a championship team themselves.

That's about as stand-up as it gets in a business built on talent fluidity and the inherent feelings of betrayal/euphoria that attend it. So salute the man.

Ben Smith's blog.

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