Following his seven-year stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James made the surprising decision to leave for the Miami Heat. It was a choice that altered the trajectory of his career towards a new chapter that hadn’t previously been envisioned given his connection to the franchise. However, it’s one that future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett believes he played a part in changing the landscape of James’ career.
LeBron James’ decision to leave Cavs
James spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Cavaliers as the face of the franchise. It saw him fully embrace being the guiding force for Cleveland, pushing their way towards being one of the top teams in the league during his tenure.
The Cavaliers made five playoff appearances with James that included their first trip to the NBA Finals and a pair of Central division titles behind two 60-win campaigns. However, the team continued to fall short in the playoffs, albeit for the lack of significant talent behind the star forward to get them over the top.
That all led to the tough decision from him to depart in free agency to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. It’s a choice that is still widely discussed given the impact it has had on the league and his career since then. However, Garnett believes there is one reason why James made the decision altogether.
Kevin Garnett believes he knows why LeBron James joined the Heat
In James’ final season with the Cavaliers, he led the team to their second straight Central Division title and 60-win campaign, but that came crashing down in yet another disappointing playoff exit.
Cleveland fell in the second round in six games to the Boston Celtics in what became the close to James’ first stint. In light of that, Garnett recently voiced on the Bill Simmons Podcast that he believes that Celtics team broke the star forward mentally. (H/T Chris Chavez of Sports Illustrated)
Simmons: You’re trying to get into his head. You feel like you can break LeBron at this point.
Garnett: We broke LeBron.
Simmons: In Game 5.
Garnett: So get your a– out of here with that. You understand how he got to Cleveland. How he got to Miami, Bill? You remember that?
Simmons: Oh that’s true. You broke him in 2010. Fair enough.
Although Garnett is quite a prideful person, it’s hard to argue his point as that series loss may have been the breaking point for James to leave Cleveland. He wasn’t getting anywhere with the franchise that didn’t look like they were going to get over the hump struggling to recruit players to the franchise.
How James responded only further fuels Garnett’s point of view as he created his own big three alongside Wade and Bosh that became the toast of the Eastern Conference over the next four years, winning a pair of NBA titles in four trips to the NBA Finals.
LeBron James’ career path
James decided to embark on the career path that he felt needed a change of scenery. It provided a chance for him to not only compete for an NBA title but grow on and off the court as he was able to get to the mountaintop finally.
It also opened the door for him to return to the franchise four years later, which he came back and helped them earn their first NBA title. His legacy with the Cavaliers has been cemented while his place in league history was further elevated after he accomplished that feat.
Now James is attempting to lead the Los Angeles Lakers back to those same heights, which only further speaks to the type of generational talent he has become. It was a decision that has forever shaped his career.