LeBron James circled the date that he was first back in Cleveland after leaving for the Miami Heat and was determined to annihilate the Cavaliers.
Up until the summer of 2010, LeBron James had a character arc that revolved around him, more or less, being the hero. He had dragged a well below average squad to the NBA Finals while winning them 66 games in the regular season and had achieved greatness while the best teammate he had had over a seven year period was Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Similar to what happened to Kevin Durant in 2016, one decision made LeBron James the most hated athlete in the NBA. His decision to take his talents to South Beach left the Cleveland Cavaliers in shambles and had the rest of the league fuming over how a superstar as ‘perfect’ as James could go chase rings.
James was hit with an incredible amount of criticism throughout his 4-year tenure in Miami, with the hate dying down in the latter years. However, nothing compares to the things that were being said about the 2x MVP at the time, in the 2010-11 season.
LeBron James talks about his mindset going into his first game back to Cleveland and the different narratives surrounding him at the time.
Forming a superteam in order to chase rings will never have a majority of NBA fans on your side. What happened to LeBron James happened to KD as well, so much so that people still believe Durant’s two rings with the Warriors don’t count due to how easy it was for him to claim them.
“So many different narratives of who I am were being portrayed and I wasn’t that person. I sort of became that person because I was like, ‘F**k it, if they’re going to make me be that person, might as well wear the black hat.’”
“I was kind of waiting for that moment when the schedule came out and I see when I was making my return. My mindset going into the game was, ‘I’m going to tear their a** up.’ I’ll never forget that day: December 2nd 2010.”
It’s safe to say that LeBron James relished being the villain for a while as he stomped all over the Cleveland Cavaliers on that date, scoring 38 points in a blowout, 118-90 victory over his former team.