The Prodigal Son


by Mack Williams
14 July 2014

I. The Prodigal Son

For some reason…largely due to what I envisioned being the resulting public relations bonanza…I always envisioned LeBron James ultimately returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But I figured it would be towards the end of his career as he took his curtain call a la Yankees Mariano Rivera last year and Derek Jeter this year. Never did I expect it to be at age 29, in his prime – and, therefore, never did I expect the reaction to be on the level that it was.

The NBA’s Prodigal Son has returned home.

Of course, while there are similarities, there are also differences between LeBron and the character described in Luke’s Biblical account. Both moved away from home under not quite the best circumstances, leaving friends and/or family and the community heartbroken. Unlike the Biblical character – who had to ask his dad for his share of the family fortune ahead of time – James made “The Decision” in 2010 not for financial reasons, but in search of an NBA championship that had eluded him in Cleveland during his first seven years. And he succeeded in this quest; after only reaching the Finals once during those seven years, LeBron helped lead the Miami Heat to two consecutive championships – in 2012 and 2013 – as well as trips to the Finals in his other two years in Miami.

The Biblical guy didn’t meet with the same type of professional success, squandering his fortune on what one translation describes as “riotous living” and, unlike LeBron, finding himself in a position where he had to accept a most menial position with no Dwyane Wade as a running partner and no championship rings in sight. But like LeBron, he matured during his time away and came to the realization that home was a viable alternative – and the reception each received shows that you can go home after all. Perhaps there are some people who are neither in the NBA or the Bible that have distanced themselves from family or friends that can learn from these stories.

II. Hot In Cleveland

You can never please everyone, no matter what the situation. The Biblical character’s brother was most upset that a big party was thrown in honor of his runaway sibling, especially since he had remained with his dad and had never been the recipient of such a big bash. In the current example, the folks most upset now – and it’s their own fault – are the Cleveland-area “fans” that burned their expensive LeBron James jerseys four years ago.

III. Guys, Let’s Try This…

The Republican National Committee chose Cleveland to host the 2016 national convention, which is slated to begin around the same time that the NBA Finals will be taking place. Therefore – and I can almost certainly guarantee this never came up in discussion prior to last week – there could be a scheduling conflict if the Cavaliers are playing for the 2016 championship.

But let’s backtrack for a second…they’re holding the convention in Cleveland for what reason? Well, it has become common for the parties to choose battleground states to host their conventions, in part hoping that the business and publicity brought to the city and the state as a result of the convention will give their candidate a boost which could help them win an highly contested state. For example, the Democrats nominated Barack Obama in Denver, CO in 2008 – and Obama carried the state.

So obviously the Republicans see Ohio – often thought of as the ultimate bellwether state – as a problem, and think that convening there will lead people to forget their status as the “party of No” – as in No healthcare, No early voting, No jobs bill, No more Latinos, etc. Unless they plan to nominate LeBron James, it doesn’t matter when they convene in Ohio, they won’t win.

IV. The Heat Is Off

Pat Riley’s post-LeBron statement boldly pointed out that the Heat had won before, and would do so again. While that was the type of statement that had to be made – he couldn’t very well tell his fan base that now that LeBron is gone, we expect to be in last place and the lottery for years to come – there are any number of Heat players who will be trying their absolute best to make that happen.

The recently-acquired Danny Granger is one. Once “the man” in Indiana, he spent essentially two years out with injuries only to return to find Paul George & Lance Stephenson had taken his time on the court and his place of importance. Landing mid-season with the Clippers, he found little time there and little interest in his return. So he wants numerous people to be proven wrong. Even Wade and Chris Bosh – Wade due to the effects of injuries, Bosh due to people considering him a third wheel – will be motivated to show that they weren’t just riding the coattails of number 6.

V. For The Love Of Money

As a native New Yorker, I can state that it is easy to love what the city has to offer. I’m sure that Carmelo Anthony, and his actress-wife LaLa, love life in the city. But in terms of his basketball future, I would suspect that his main reason for remaining with the Knicks was…well, there are 129 million of them or so.

The Knicks failed to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference this season, and now Cleveland is a playoff team, which means that they have leapfrogged over the Knicks. It is now that much harder to make the playoffs in the admittedly-weaker East, so unless Carmelo knows Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher have 2015 free agency rabbits in their hats, his free agent decision may not be the best in terms of playoff success. Da Bulls might have been the place for him to go.

VI. The Russian Judge

Google Clifford Hall and read about how Texas Judge Lisa Millard ordered him to prison for child support payments he had made. Her awful ruling reminds me of the Olympic “Russian judge,” whose obviously awful scoring led the wrong skaters to win in 2002. Hope the petition on urging her removal gains traction…but if it doesn’t, Texans, she’s up for reelection this year. Do what you gotta do.

VII. I Beg To Differ

Republicans want to sue and impeach President Obama because he’s not doing a good job. If only the stock market could speak…it would probably try to argue them down.

The Dow finished the day today at 17,055, just missing a record-high close.

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