Somehow, this is all Derrick Rose's fault.
LeBron James is headed back to Cleveland because Rose didn't beg him to play in Chicago, just as it was Rose's fault that the Big Three all went to Miami four years ago.
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Or maybe, just maybe, it was the plan all along.
Yeah, the truth is James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh planned their Miami championship run years before, and nothing Rose could have done would have changed any of that.
The recruiting trips were a sham and served only to embarrass teams that had no chance to secure any of them.
And once again, we learn that James had planned for weeks (if not months) to return home, meaning Rose would not have been a factor again, just as nothing he has done -- or can do -- will have any bearing on Carmelo Anthony's decision.
A month ago, Anthony had to choose between winning and money. Today, he still has to choose between winning and money.
The Bulls have done all they can do and whether Rose gets down on his knees and pleads with Anthony changes nothing in the equation.
Just as it had nothing to do with King James returning home Friday.
The best player on the planet never got over being hated in his hometown, a surprising and emotional take at a time when few athletes seem to possess that gene.
He was admittedly immature when he departed, leaving to chase rings with buddies and leaving behind his hometown, where there was more money, more pressure and more headaches.
James is a different guy today. Not only is he a better player with a pair of rings in his pocket, but he has grown up and is unafraid to be a leader and take on challenges with no guarantee of a title.
When he made "The Decision," he was painfully unaware of how he would be viewed, and when the Big Three held a parade before they had played a single game, many in the NBA world viewed it as selfish and unbecoming.
Let's face it, that is not something Michael Jordan would have done, and the man who has based his life on trying to overcome Jordan's NBA exploits ensured that he would never be viewed in the same basketball light.
So this time it was about more than basketball. This was about righting wrongs, forgiving and forgetting, and, ultimately, going home.
"To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough," James wrote in a piece for Sports Illustrated. "The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned -- seeing all that was hard for them.
"My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, 'OK, I don't want to deal with these people ever again.' But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react?
"I've met with Dan (Gilbert), face-to-face, man-to-man. We've talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I've made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?"
Interesting guy, LeBron James.
He appears to be a decent man, on top of being one of the top athletes to don a uniform in any sport. While it's always dangerous to make assumptions without knowing what goes on in someone else's home, James seems to be a good husband and father, a positive influence in the community, and a superb teammate.
And he is affected by how he is viewed. There aren't many athletes worth hundreds of millions -- or even billions -- who care about their public persona.
"I'm not having a press conference or a party," James told SI. "After this, it's time to get to work.
"When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn't had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what's most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio."
On the surface, this appears to be a wonderful sports story. Great player leaves home and wins titles, but feels bad about what he's done, so he goes home to make it right.
Redemption and atonement? That's not something you get much in sports today. Here's hoping the story is genuine and LBJ finds what he is seeking in Cleveland.
As for where he was going, all the conversations with other teams was pure folly, just as it was four years ago.
"I looked at other teams, but I wasn't going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland," James told SI. "The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy."
So as it turns out, nothing a single Bulls player could have done would have changed Decision 2.0.
And, yet, somehow this will all be Derrick Rose's fault.
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