Abdul-Jabbar: LeBron James not going back to home he once knew

kareem-abdul-jabbar-talkLeBron James has recently announced that he’s returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he spent his first 7 NBA seasons. In his essay in Sports Illustrated about his return to play for Cleveland, LeBron James announced, “I’m coming home.”

NBA legend, Hall of Famer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar however believes that James will not be coming to the “home” he once knew.

“While his very personal and emotional explanation will resonate with many, others will find it disingenuous and self-serving. Because the awful truth is, as Thomas Wolfe titled one of his most well-known novels, “You can’t go home again”,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote in his article on Times.

“To some skeptical residents, LeBron’s return to Cleveland is less that of the prodigal son’s triumphant return home than the straying husband who abandoned his longtime partner to chase a younger, hotter, firmer slice having second thoughts,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Having realized he traded a deep love for a sweaty romp, he’s coming home with a bouquet of roses in one hand and a diamond bracelet in the other, begging forgiveness for his foolish mistake of lustful youth.”

Abdul-Jabbar says that doesn’t make LeBron’s desire to return any less sincere.

“Who hasn’t at some time or other hurt those we loved? And it takes a lot of courage to return to what many Clevelanders might consider “the scene of the crime”. LeBron is one of the best players in the world. He could have gone anywhere, but he chose Cleveland, knowing he would have to endure a firestorm of criticism. Had he stayed in Miami or gone elsewhere, he would have been hoisted on shoulders and paraded through the streets. That testifies to his sincerity,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.

He went on to recall his own experience of wanting to “go home”.

“I’ve had some experience with wanting to go home. After playing with the Milwaukee Bucks for a few years at the beginning of my career, I had a longing to return to New York City. Oscar “The Big ‘O’” Robertson had retired, and without him we had come in last, with no significant draft picks and little hope of turning things around the next year,” he noted.

“I didn’t go to the press to negotiate for more money or a better deal. I went to the owner and we had an amiable chat. We shook hands and kept it between ourselves so the team could make the best deal for them and me because we each felt loyalty to the other. My attempt to return home failed because New York had no players Milwaukee wanted. Instead, I went to Los Angeles (a second home, since I attended UCLA) along with Walt Wesley and the Bucks got four players in exchange: Dave Meyers, Brian Winters, Elmore Smith and Junior Bridgeman,” Abdul-Jabbar recalled.

“When LeBron left Cleveland he celebrated it as the Exodus from Egypt and enslavement, and that arrogance left a bitter taste in his fans’ mouths. It was like showing up at a party with his new girlfriend when he knew his ex would be there. Tacky. Even his return to Cleveland might have been seen as more from the heart, as he states in his essay, if it had just been announced as a fait accompli instead of the press and fans waiting in anticipation for the word to come down from the mountain inscribed on tablets,” Abdul-Jabbar said.

Legendary Lakers center noted that LeBron James’ return to Cleveland is good fo basketball.

“Each game now comes with a movie narrative attached: underdogs, redemption, forgiveness. I certainly will be watching. But the “coming home” narrative has been a little too orchestrated to silence the critics and slighted fans.”

“LeBron can’t go home again. At least not to the home he once knew. They may be grateful and joyful, but they are also wiser. Like the betrayed spouse, they will have to wait and see, they will have to be wooed, they will have to be convinced that his sincerity, to quote “Porgy and Bess,” ain’t a sometime thing,” he wrote.

Abdul-Jabbar was  a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member.

In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Abdul-Jabbar played 1560 games in the NBA, averaging 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg in 36.8 mpg.


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