The View From Pluto: LeBron Leaves With His Legacy Intact
Emotions have been running the gamut among Cavs fans since LeBron James announced he’s leaving Cleveland for the L.A. Lakers. But our sports commentator Terry Pluto says despite some of the anger and sadness, James’ legacy is intact.
"You hope your opinion is based on more than just raw emotion that you want LeBron to just dribble a basketball here until he just drops over and his career ends," Pluto says.
Pluto's received a lot of emails expressing anger about James' leaving. He urges fans to remember the Cavs' four trips to the NBA Finals and the one title.
"I think of a guy being 32-years-old, who came back to his hometown and delivered a title. He played more games here than anymore else. He probably figures he has one move left -- stay in Cleveland or go somewhere else?"
'This is a different guy leaving this time'
"It was the luck of the lottery the first time he came here. He didn't have a choice to come to Cleveland. The second time he chose to come back and, as he said, make some things right."
Other fans have said they're glad James is leaving so that the Cavs "can finally build a team." The last time they made the playoffs without LeBron James was 1998.
In the past 20 years, James "was here for 11 of those years. But the other nine when he was gone, there's no playoffs!"
"You look back and he should have no big regrets," Pluto says. "It's not like the last time when he left with 'The Decision' show, and frankly, he was immature the last year or two. He was not always a great teammate. This is a different guy leaving this time. This is a guy who learned from his mistakes."
And Pluto says James' philanthrophy will continue through his LeBron James Family Foundation.
"I know some people who have kids who have been part of that. It's not just trips to Cedar Point, and it's not just getting the backpacks and the bikes. It's the academic end of it. This took a lot energy to get it right. There are a lot of athletes that have done quite a bit of good, but he's lapped them all."
Pluto says Cleveland got to see one of the greats.
"I think his legacy will be -- people who follow the Cavaliers saw if not the greatest player of all time, among the top three ever to play basketball."
"He truly felt more than any other athlete in Cleveland pro sports history the burden of, 'I have to win a title for the town because it's been so long.' He came back with that not just as a goal, but as a burden."
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct spelling errors.