This history of the greatest comeback in NBA history starts and ends with LeBron James, who rallied the Cleveland Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. The Return of the King, written by Brian Windhorst, an ESPN analyst who has been covering LeBron since his high school days, and Dave McMenamin, another ESPN analyst who covers the Lakers and the Cavs, takes you all the way back to 2014, when LeBron made his decision to come back to his hometown Cleveland. It goes in depth into Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s process of finding a new general manager to make the Cavs a playoff team in 2014. David Griffin then had to find a new coach, as the former coach, Mike Brown, was not helping the team win games, going into the fourth straight season of not making the playoffs. They then hired Russia’s national team coach David Blatt, who won a lot of titles in the Euroleague. Gilbert, Griffin, and Blatt, after many talks with LeBron’s agent Rich Paul about his contract, eventually lured LeBron back to Cleveland. Return of the King takes you deep into this process, showing you the players they got to entice LeBron, the talks between LeBron and Griffin, as well as the writing of the Coming Home letter written by James, which was published in Sports Illustrated to inform everyone of his final decision to return to Cleveland.
The book also explains how the Cavaliers ended up getting Kevin Love from Minnesota as a trade for their number one draft pick that year, Andrew Wiggins. Love made the decision after talking with LeBron on the phone, and having a sitdown with Gilbert and Griffin at Vegas. LeBron also is a free agent magnet, and he attracted many veterans like Mike Miller, James Jones, and Shawn Marion. McMenamin and Windhorst then explain the many frustrations during the first season for LeBron James. First, there were the growing issues with Dion Waiters, who was eventually traded for JR Smith and Iman Shumpert, and then there was David Blatt. Return of the King goes in depth into David Blatt’s problem, which were that he had trouble calling plays during timeouts, and he didn’t show authority well. This led to a frustrating season for the team, who ended up losing to the Warriors in the Finals after Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving got injured. LeBron James posted unbelievable numbers, but ran out of gas, as he was the only one doing much on the team.
Onto the next season, and a fresh start. Blatt was still coaching, but despite the good words LeBron said to the media about the coach, there was still unrest between the players about Blatt. The book goes in depth into the season, talking about almost every regular season game. They also bring in interesting facts, such as how LeBron James loved watching other NBA teams on offnights, and was a huge fan of the NBA app, when he once even complained to the league about its functionailty. Return of the King dives into the firing of David Blatt in the middle of the season, and the hiring of the assistant coach Tyronn Lue. The book takes us through all the playoff games, where the Cavaliers got to an amazing 10-0 start. It goes in depth into the celebration after the Eastern Conference Final win, and the preparation for a rematch with the Warriors. It recaps every game, and talks about the most memorable moments from Game 7: “The Block. The Shot. The Stop.” The book tells us what happened after, during the celebrations in the locker room in Oracle Arena.
I absolutely recommend this book, as it is extremely indepth and told me things I did not know about the Cavaliers, even after watching almost every game. If you are a Cavs fan, this is a must-buy. This book will also tell you what an NBA front office is like, and all the things that goes on behind the scenes of an NBA championship team. Return of the King is an extremely interesting book, one that you can read over and over again to relive the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 title run.
Return of the King: LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Greatest Comeback in NBA History
Authors: Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: April 2017
Reviewer: Sahil Kurup is a freshman at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, CA.