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LeBron James debriefed after a disappointing NBA Finals, then set the wheels in motion for another major decision.

Alan Diaz, Associated Press

Rand: Believe athletes now; watch 'em backpedal later

  • July 6, 2014 - 9:25 PM

LeBron James entered free agency on July 1, 2010, and a week later he made “The Decision” — a televised special on ESPN in which the Ohio native told the world he was leaving the home state Cavaliers and planned to “take my talents to South Beach” with the Heat.

The fourth anniversary of that colossal public relations blunder, which set up the Heat and James to be much bigger villains than they otherwise would have been, is Tuesday. So, too, is the anniversary of the scathing letter released by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert — famously in the amusing font of comic sans, adding to the effect.

Gilbert ripped James, promising the Cavaliers would win a championship before the Heat (whoops). Part of the letter read, “If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our ‘motivation’ to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.”

At that moment in time, the idea of James ever playing another minute for Cleveland and Gilbert seemed ridiculous, at best.

But we should know better, right?

At the time of LeBron’s decision, Brett Favre had played one season for the Vikings and was getting ready to be schmoozed into coming back for another year. If you had told a Vikings fan or Packers fan in the summer of 2005 that such a thing would ever happen, the reaction would have equaled the modern-day incredulity of a Twins fan told that Ricky Nolasco had successful back-to-back starts.

In the same year as LeBron’s decision, the Vikings made a midseason trade for Randy Moss. Again, go back to the summer of 2005, after the Vikings sent the mercurial mooner to Oakland. The prospect of a reunion five years later was not what anyone would have predicted.

Johnny Damon can sign with the Yankees. Michael Jordan can go play minor league baseball. There are no absolutes in sports.

As such, should we really be shocked by reports over the weekend that the Cavaliers are making a good push to land LeBron now that he is a free agent again? And should we even be all that surprised if the strange sources of reporting — a Facebook post from a cupcake shop and a tweet from rapper Q-Tip, to name two — end up being correct?

Maybe James goes back to Cleveland. Maybe that’s enough to make Kevin Love accept a trade there, if the Cavs are still interested. And maybe in another five years Love makes a triumphant return to the Timberwolves.

Because in sports, anything is possible.

Michael Rand

© 2014 Star Tribune