Mere hours – minutes, really – after LeBron James announced that he would return to Cleveland, the emotions in Miami ran the full gamut.
“I’ll tell you what,” WQAM Miami radio host Zach Krantz said on Ferrall on the Bench. “All week long, I think the consensus was, ‘Don’t worry, Pat Riley’s got it, he just met with him the other day (and James is) not meeting with anybody else.’ Nobody knew about the (private meeting with) Dan Gilbert. If I would’ve known that factor, I would’ve probably said it’s 50-50.”
For all we know, it may have been. Whatever the odds were, James is going home.
“I think there was a little bit of shock around Miami today,” Krantz said. “I think the rest of the week it was up in the air. Some people thought he would go back to Cleveland. Other people thought Riley had it in the bag. But today (after) the announcement, I think it was really just a weird feeling. It was an almost sad feeling. Then you had a couple people (who said), Good riddance. We’re glad LeBron’s not here anymore. Let him go home.’ And then there were people like me that said, ‘Guys, we’re overreacting. LeBron comes around once in a generation and now he’s not on the Miami Heat anymore.’”
Krantz thought Gilbert’s scathing letter about James – which was released in the wake of The Decision and was still on the Cavaliers’ website just days ago – would keep James in Miami. Apparently not.
“Realistically, what was happening was Rich Paul, (James’) wife and his people around him were saying, ‘Let’s go home. Let’s finish up at home. Let’s win a championship at home.’ That was really the deciding factor,” Krantz said. “Pat Riley went into a meeting with Rich Paul thinking he had a loaded gun and he was going to be okay, and Gilbert all this time – for four years – all he had to was say, ‘I’m sorry. Come back and play at home.’ And that’s all LeBron wanted. Who knew that?”
“I would’ve put all my money in the world on Pay Riley winning (this battle), and it came out that Pat Riley couldn’t offer the one thing that LeBron wanted – and he said it today in his statement: ‘I just want to go home. I want to go play in Akron. I love Cleveland. I love that area.’”
“That was a huge thing that I didn’t see coming. But now that it’s out and now that that’s the way he felt, I can’t really blame him. I’m upset that he’s gone. I’m a Heat fan. I grew up down here in South Florida. But I couldn’t offer that. Pat Riley couldn’t offer that. Mickey Arison couldn’t offer that. Dwyane Wade couldn’t offer that.”
“It’s the worst case scenario for the Heat and the Heat fans, and it happened.”
Left to pick up the pieces, Riley signed Chris Bosh, 30, to a five-year, $118-million contract.
“I think people were happy with the Bosh re-signing until kind of the money came out,” Krantz said. “I think he would’ve signed for less, but I think the Heat were in a (damage control) situation.”
Unfortunately for Riley, signing Bosh may have been a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t proposition.
“In my estimation, if you let Bosh go, you’re winning 20 games next year,” Krantz said. “Maybe now you’re a (playoff team).”