Thank You, LeBron.
What is there to say?
LeBron James gave Miami the best four years of his career but it was just a summer romance in the grand scheme of things. He loved us and we loved him but it was never the same. Cleveland was always his one true love and, in LeBron's own words, that goes beyond basketball. Home is where the heart is.
The last four years have been unbelievable and historic. I got to see one of the greatest basketball players of all time proudly wear the same jersey I've proudly worn for 26 years and will continue to wear until I'm dirt. I will certainly never burn it. Very few in Miami will, I imagine. We were incredibly blessed and we know that and we are deeply grateful.
The sports world will continue to vilify us and claim this is what we deserve because we don't measure up to their standard of pathological sports fandom. What they don't understand is that we are a city of immigrants, many with very little history or roots in this country, let alone this city. As such, we are a city in its infancy and a city of sports teams in their infancy--most a mere generation old. It takes generations to build up the kind of loyalty and passion sports fans demand from each other and relentlessly mock in its absence. We're not there yet, but we're building something special.
This is a big blow to what we've been trying to build but misery and failure are an inextricable part of sports fandom and they build character, loyalty, and faith. Sports are very much an exercise in faith. How do you react when that faith is tested? Do you give in? Or do you let it fuel you and make you stronger?
What does the future hold for the Heat? Who can say? Bosh has agreed to a maximum 5 year $118 million deal to stay. His faith is strong. He welcomes the challenge of the Post-LeBron Era. A Wade/Bosh/+1 team could easily be a 4-5 seed in the East. But there will be a time of rebuilding. This team was built on a foundation of LeBron James and now that foundation is gone and a new one needs to be built. Perhaps a Luol Deng or an Eric Bledsoe or a Trevor Ariza or even a Greg Monroe might be in play. Perhaps the team's focus will turn to the 2015 and/or 2016 free agent classes. But I have faith that they will be back because this organization is built on a foundation of Micky Arison, Pat Riley, and Erik Spoelstra along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. We will be back. Someday.
Right now it hurts like hell, there's no two ways about it. We were blessed with transcendent greatness for four glorious years and now it's gone as fast as it came. There is a void in our lives and wounds in our hearts but the void will be filled and the wounds will be healed with the amazing memories we shared. Nothing can take those away. So thank you, King James, for the last four years. They have truly been something to behold. We miss you already but we'll always love you. And when you return to the American Airlines Arena, there will be a standing ovation waiting for you when you get there.