Have you ever sat and thought about how one event in history going a different way could have had such a huge impact on the world? Well, if you do, give this one a try. Think about what things would be different if LeBron James would have played his entire career up until the current year, 2015, on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Obviously, the biggest difference would be that he would never have left to go play with the Miami Heat for four years in 2010. He won two championships in Miami in 2012 and 2013. Would he have ever won any rings staying in Cleveland? Many would answer no, and that is the reason he decided to take his talents to South Beach. Others would say that the Cavaliers would have finally built a solid enough roster around the King and finally deliver the NBA Championship to Cleveland.
One thing is certain: the Cavaliers were much better with LeBron than without. Besides LeBron's rookie year, in which they went 35-47, the Cavaliers were above .500 in every season LeBron was with the team, even winning at least 60 games in back to back seasons in 2008(66-16) and 2009(61-21). The following four seasons that the Cavaliers didn't have LeBron are ones they would rather not even talk about.
How LeBron Leaving Affected Draft Picks
Many players were drafted by the Cavaliers because the team was so bad they got a high draft pick. If LeBron had stayed in Cleveland, the Cavaliers would have had a much better record and would never have been picking at the number one spot, for instance.
Let's look at some of the draft picks that were a direct result of LeBron's departure in 2010.
2011- Drafted with the number one pick in the first round was a young star point guard out of Duke University by the name of Kyrie Irving. Kyrie, as many know, still plays a superstar role on the Cavaliers in the current year 2015. If LeBron would have stayed, Kyrie and LeBron would probably never have been teammates. Not to mention how different Irving's career would have been. He would have been drafted by a much different team, and who knows how his career would have played out. It goes to show you how much one simple move from one team to another of a superstar player can affect so many things.
2011- Also drafted in the first round of the 2011 Draft by the Cavaliers with the fourth pick was an amazing offensive rebounding big man out of the University of Texas, Tristan Thompson. Thompson is also still on the 2015 Cavaliers team and plays a huge role. He just signed a major offseason contract and has made a mark in this league as one of, if not the best, offensive rebounding post players in the NBA. If LeBron would have stayed in Cleveland, Thompson would also likely never have played as LeBron's teammate. He would have been drafted by a different team and his career would be so much different (there seems to be a common theme here).
2012- In the year 2012, directly after drafting two great players the year previous, they took a young up and coming guard out of the University of Syracuse with the fourth pick in the first round Dion Waiters. Dion is a great example of a player that struggled with LeBron leaving for Miami. Dion played a couple seasons in Cleveland and could never really develop into the role they needed or the one that made him shine. He would be eventually moved on to the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he is currently playing, and would thrive in that system. What if Waiters would have been drafted by another team and fit into that team right away? At the same time, maybe Dion never would have been moved to the Thunder where he fits in so well. Chalk it up as yet another player affected by LeBron's decision.
2013- With the first pick in the 2013 draft the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett, forward from UNLV. This is probably the worst pick a team has had in many years. Bennett never lived up to the number one pick hype and if LeBron was still in Cleveland, Bennett gets drafted by another team, plain and simple. Bennett, like Waiters, no longer plays for the Cavaliers, but has yet to make his mark on an NBA team.
2014- This is where things get really interesting. The Cavaliers took freshman superstar out of Kansas, Andrew Wiggins with the first overall pick. Simple right? Well, there were rumors starting to circulate that LeBron was possibly making a return to Cleveland in the upcoming season. In order to make the decision for LeBron very attractive, the Cavaliers traded Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves in order to get superstar Kevin Love to send a message to LeBron that the Cavaliers want him to come back home and win a championship. Great news for everyone, as LeBron loved the idea of playing with Love and Irving and comes back home. What about Wiggins? Many thought the move to Minnesota was an early train derailment to such an amazing player's NBA career, and boy were they wrong. Wiggins has done nothing but prosper from this move. He has developed into a solid two guard and fits perfect with the Wolves. You know what is next, yes another player affected by LeBron James and his moves, this time back to Cleveland.
Seems Simple, Stay In Cleveland. Right?
Many will ask, if everything worked out for so many years, why did LeBron go to Miami?
Let this sink in. From the years 2003 to 2009 LeBron led the Cavaliers in scoring in every season. He had the highest averages in many categories including assists and rebounds in some, but not all seasons.
He would also go from one season to another playing with subpar players, clearly not cut out for a run at the NBA Finals.
Oh, and when he did make it to the NBA Finals, where he faced the San Antonio Spurs, he got swept 4-0.
LeBron James did everything for those Cavaliers teams, every single year. LeBron isn't stupid, as he flat out told the Cavaliers he needed talent surrounding him to get a championship. The Cavaliers ultimately didn't deliver on this request and he took his talents elsewhere.
It seems that he made the right choice as well, winning two NBA championships, both in Miami.
With So Much Success In Miami, Why Come Back?
This is a great question. LeBron was coming off two great years in 2012 and 2013, winning two rings and feeling on top of the world, only to fall short of a three-peat in 2014 to the Spurs. With him becoming a free agent in 2014 he had a huge choice to make. Stay in Miami and try to get back to winning ways, or return home to the city that took him in as a young stud straight out of high school.
He came back to Cleveland for two reasons.
First, the hometown factor. James was raised in Akron,'Ohio and has always had a deep connection to the state of Ohio. He wanted to return as a hometown hero and give the fans what they have long been waiting for, an NBA title.
The second reason to return to Cleveland was the simple fact that he would be involved in many of the decisions. Cleveland lost James once because of failure to listen to him, and they weren't going to take the risk a second time around.
James could sculpt this Cavaliers team just the way he wanted, bringing in players he desired to play with, and also coaching decisions.
Making An Impact In Season 1
Last year, 2014, was LeBron's first year back in Cleveland and all he did was get them to the NBA Finals. Jokes aside, it was something special.
The buzz around that city to finally be back on the map in the name of basketball was something that they had been waiting for since 2010.
They would eventually lose to the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, but what a season the Cavaliers had. They were just glad to see the King was finally home.
One Decision, So Much Impact
From teams to players, so many people were affected by the decision LeBron made in 2010 and the ramifications in later years. Was it the right move? If you ask James, he wouldn't hesitate to say yes. He got to leave, make a new start, win a couple NBA titles and gain experience, and return to the one place he can really call home.
If you have some extra time on your hands, try this out. Take an event in sports or life in general and map out just how much it has changed the history books, because you just might amaze yourself.