On June 10, in Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Finals, during the San Antonio Spurs 19-point spanking of the host Miami Heat, many in the crowd of 19,900 let the Heat players know how they felt.
“Boo! Boo! Boo!”
In Game 4, on June 12, while San Antonio was en route to blasting host Miami by 21 points, that same crowd maintained their load groaning.
“Boo! Boo! Boo! Boo!”
Of course Heat All-World forward LeBron James heard those scathing catcalls. And so what was King James thinking?
Well, we’ll never really know. But did it have anything to do with LeBron’s decision on Friday to pack up his bags and head back home — bring his talents, to coin a phrase — to Cleveland?
Interestingly enough, in his 12-paragraph essay/explanation to the world on why he was leaving Miami for Cleveland, James thanked Heat owner Mickey Arison, team president Pat Riley and his Miami teammates “for an amazing four years.”
But he didn’t thank the Miami fans. Didn’t even mention them.
Of course James was being sincere when he said returning to Cleveland “makes me happy.”
But isn’t it a possibility, at least a small possibility, that one of the reasons James is heading back to Cleveland is he remembered all that booing?
The 6-foot-8, 250-pound James put the Miami Heat on his back beginning in 2010 and led them to four straight Eastern Conference finals and two NBA crowns. James gave that city and those Heat fans everything he had and tons of great basketball memories.
And on June 10 and June 12, those fans paid James back with a loud chorus of boos during two whippings at the hands of the near-flawless Spurs. Granted, those fans were booing the entire team not just James.
But, again, what do you think James was thinking when he heard the home fans turning on him and his teammates?
All that booing by Miami patrons could not have warmed the heart of King James.
“I think all that booing in those games could have been a big factor in LeBron going back to Cleveland,” said Billy White Jr., Copperas Cove High School head basketball coach. “You can understand how the Cleveland fans reacted in 2010 when LeBron left them. But what those Miami fans did during the Finals this year shows they are not loyal fans. If you call yourself a Heat fan, you support them win or lose.”
James will turn 30 soon. He’s clearly grown up. He’s not the flash-first, sometimes immature 25-year-old kid he was when he told America in June of 2010, “I’m taking my talents to Miami.”
So a mature James is not about to say the Miami fans’ collective disloyalty to his teammates and him during the 2014 Finals had anything to do with his decision to “return home.”
But it might have. It’s a possibility. Those ridiculous boos may have made James ask himself “Why should I play for those so-called fans?”
And so James will adorn a Cleveland jersey this upcoming season and, presumably, for the next decade.
“When things got ugly, those Miami fans turned and ran,” White said. “That’s not loyalty. When I first heard LeBron was leaving, I hadn’t thought of all that booing as a factor. But now that you mention it, I think it could have been big to him.”
Followers of the Miami Heat are now seething. But it’s not just booing, it’s crying: “Boo-hoo, boo-hoo, boo-hoo.”
But those customers who bought tickets to Miami Heat games deserve no sympathy with LeBron choosing to desert Miami.
Athletes are human, too. With long memories.
And LeBron only had to think back to June 10 and June 12.
Contact Allan Mandell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7566 and read his column at KDHPressbox.com