Note: In the midst of my post-LeBron separation anxiety and subsequent two-day depression, I wrote this letter exactly one year ago, mere hours before former HEAT forward LeBron James’ scheduled return to AmericanAirlines Arena for a Christmas Day matchup with the Miami HEAT. Miami would win the game 101-91 behind 31 points and 5 assists from an inspired Dwyane Wade and 25 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds by Luol Deng.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
When you arrived, we loved you, we treated you like the king you call yourself. We did everything we could make you a part of the family. We showered you with as much affection as we could, so as to soften the emotional blows dealt by your former love. You were a success here. You reached the promised land. In turn, you brought us great joy and admiration. You made us believe in our team again. We fought for you. They cursed us, dismissed us as illegitimate fans; we didn’t listen, we loved you all the more. You fell, we picked you up, We did it all.
But then, something happened. You tired. You lost faith. You lost sight of the dynastic goals we planned for you. You fled after defeat. You ran back to the one that abused you, burned your name and shield in effigy after your initial departure. You ran back and called it home. We did everything to make you feel loved and wanted, and you, in your letter after leaving, likened us to a college fling of sorts. Why? You were a king in Cleveland; you became a god in Miami. These things don’t happen in college, which you never attended. We were a mistress?
After supposedly accomplishing this version of The Decision the “right” way, you reduced your thanks to us to an Instagram re-post, a re-post you swiped off of the Miami HEAT page. Why? Did we not deserve more than that? For many of us, this is our primary point of contention with you right now—not that you left, but how. It wasn’t the letter that troubled us, but the glaring omission. Your words to a screaming throng of Akronites plunged the dagger deeper. It didn’t add up. You addressed them as a long lost love, as though the merciless boos and vitriol from them in your absence never existed.
And we witnessed all of these things, astonished at the sudden change of attitude you exhibited. So we ask why? Do we wish you ill? No. Did we curse your name as you left? No. We thanked you for all you did for us in four years. We attempted to retool in your absence. We moved on. We came together and formed a fiery new nation of fans in your absence, purged of bandwagon fans & similar imposters. We did that. Should you be surprised that it was awkward when we reunited in Brasil? We weren’t. We heard what you said. We saw what you did. We know it.
As a franchise, we know that everything is going to be just fine. We may struggle, but our foundation remains strong. We believe in them. We will return to this same Promised Land you initially joined us in search of. We might even have to defeat you in the process someday. We harbor no ill will towards you. I personally wish you great success with the Cleveland Cavaliers. But it will never be the same. You wear a different shield. You have become the enemy again, and we will treat you as such. This is something you might have overlooked in your haste to return home.
Miami is no longer your home. Who knows, maybe it never was. We won’t know that for a long time. No franchise is perfect, but we sure tried. We will honor your accomplishments today, but after that, you will take your place among those that have come to town and faced our jeers. This is what we’ve come to. Our core remains. Dwyane Wade is still our champion, and Chris Bosh is now our anchor. We’re at peace with that. We still have Micky Arison, Pat Riley, Nick Arison, and Erik Spoelstra guiding our march through the league. Their resumes speak without words.
We are a HEAT Nation, and this nation, forever bigger than any one figure, will never crumble. We may struggle, but we will never die. So come, LeBron. You might even beat us. Take whatever you like, but know this: The trophy will always stay in Miami. All three of them. We fashioned rings for you. The league awarded you with two trophies alongside them. But Larry O’Brien is immortal. You will retire someday as the greatest player in this generation, and we’re thankful for your time here. History is forever. But we march on. Opening tip is just after 5 PM. It should be an interesting game. Good luck, LeBron. We’ll meet again someday.
As for now, Go HEAT.
Ricky J. Marc