Dan Le Batard believes LeBron James knew he was going to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers for several days before he announced his decision. James met with Pat Riley on Wednesday of last week before announcing his decision in an orchestrated essay published by Sports Illustrated on Friday.
"I found it interesting that Chris Sheridan, when he broke this story, was talking in sportswriter narrative — the mythology of going home, and the Rust Belt," said Le Batard. "I found that interesting because I didn’t think it could be right, that a sportswriter and an athlete would both have the sportswriter narrative. But, man, these guys planned that part out beautifully, so it doesn’t become about the way that his entourage feuded with Pat Riley at the end."
The Heat pursued Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts with the assumption James would re-sign.
"Oh, it was before the end. I don’t think he does what he did — I don’t think he does that again to Cleveland, you know what I mean? — allows 10 days of hope, where he crushes Cleveland again. I think he knew before this. The Miami Heat have taken the high road on this, but it’s why they were behaving like a team that was going to get him — because they were misled by his guys.
"The Miami Heat were behaving like a team that was gonna get him back," said Le Batard. "They were doing everything, like they were gonna get him back. That’s because the agent for LeBron James [Rich Paul] made them feel like they were gonna get him back. You can’t have two teams behaving like they were gonna get him back."
Le Batard also believes James was already planning on leaving the Miami Heat before the start of the Finals.
"I think it was before [the NBA Finals]. Here’s part of the problem, though, Dan. It’s hard for me to know what’s true and what isn’t, because people are talking about so many different things. But one thing that surprised me, and I heard it from a number of places, is that LeBron’s wife and LeBron’s mom didn’t want to actually go. When he was talking about going back and telling Pat Riley that he needed to talk to his family, he was talking about La Familia — the group of guys around him. Again, I don’t know what to believe, and I need to talk to LeBron about it. And get honesty from LeBron about it, and I’m not sure those things are possible given the way that they’re spinning these things in a PR way. But I’ve heard in too many places — not one or two — that Savannah didn’t actually want to go."