When LeBron James returned to Cleveland in 2014, it was almost as if it was destiny. Considering the way in which he departed, and the success he had in Miami, it's clear that he went back with a mission: to bring a title to his home-town team.
He accomplished that mission, but it doesn't mean anyone expected him to leave again.
For Kevin Love, however, he recalls the moment he knew it was the end of the LBJ era.
“Yes. It did. It really did,” he said when asked if it had felt like an era was coming to an end. “I always had that sense, and then it really felt like it was over come the trade deadline. Once we kind of had an unprecedented number of guys traded at the deadline, that was going to be it.
“Bron (LeBron James) is incredibly smart and heady and kind of feels like he always has things under control and the foresight to look at things. He wanted to know and have some semblance of direction. At that point, we were trying to build for the future.”
There were a lot of trades that winter. Amid major chemistry issues in the locker room, they traded Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye for Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. They also traded Dwyane Wade for a second-round pick.
LeBron, more than anyone, believes in control and consistency. Those trades provided neither.
Their crushing defeat in the 2018 Finals was likely the final nail in the coffin.