The Heat danced and paraded, having finally accomplished something. The streamers were coming down and the fans were shooting off the white seat covers that dress American Airlines Arena during the team’s White Hot Heat promotion.
This was not a July evening when the Heat celebrated the signings of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. This was a May night, 10 months after James’ fateful decision, when the Heat got past the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs and the Celtics’ Big Three made room for the Heat’s trio.
It was a cathartic moment for James especially. It was a year ago to the day that James put up a somewhat pitiful 15-point, 3-for-14 in a Game Five loss to the Celtics. It was LeBron’s final game at Quicken Loans Arena and the last time Cleveland could view LeBron as its own.
James knew how to rise to the moment this time and take his revenge. James scored 13 points in the fourth quarter including the final 10 as the Heat bounced the Celtics out of the postseason. The moment to reflect on all the insanity that has transpired the last year for James was not lost as he sat at the podium for his postgame press conference.
“I knew I had to go through Boston at some point. I went through a lot signing to be here and the way it panned out. I apologize for the way it happened, but I knew that this opportunity was once in a lifetime.”
Wade and James freely admitted post game that the Celtics inspired them to join forces to go for an NBA title. It seemed throughout the year James and Wade were not sure whether the whole enterprise was worth it as criticism rained down upon them and every little hiccup was scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb.
But one thing James never did was apologize for how he conducted himself during the whole Decision ordeal. It was like he never realized what his decision and how he handled himself would affect those that supported him the most — the fans. It was like he only saw his decision through the lens of public relations and profitability. Instead of talking about how he raised money for the Boys and Girls Club through his decision, we were left talking about how self-serving and chauvinistic the whole process — which included parading his suitors to an office in downtown Cleveland as fans sat outside pleading for him to stay — of his decision was.
The defeat of the Celtics might finally bring James full circle and might finally put this tumultuous ear to rest. James has exorcised one of his demons — his Cavs never got past the Celtics — and his team is playing the best it has played all season, perhaps.
The Heat celebrated on the American Airlines Arena floor. It may have been excessive or like they had won a championship. But it was important hurdle for James and the Heat to clear. Now it is on to the next challenge for this intriguing experiment.
Photo via DayLife.com.