LeBron James announced that he would sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers July 11, 2014 — a day that blindsided the Heat. Four years later, James switched teams again, signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Heat officials then went through similar thoughts Cavs executives may now experience — frustration and uncertainty after losing the NBA’s best player.
Now we know that Heat General Manager Andy Elisburg has offered his advice to his counterpart with Cleveland, Koby Altman.
In a new ESPN feature story by Ramona Shelburne, Elisburg reveals that he called Altman the morning after news broke that James would sign with the Lakers. Elisburg also said that he couldn’t sleep when he found out James would leave Miami. The following is an excerpt from the article.
“The night it happened [in 2014], I was so angry and emotional I was having chest pains,” Elisburg said. “I was lying in bed and thought I was having a heart attack.”
Eventually, though, Elisburg found peace. He said that he relayed that lesson to Altman in the ESPN piece.
“I came in the next day around 9, 10 o’clock in the morning, went to the whiteboard, started putting down names and building the roster like we’d always done,” Elisburg told the young general manager. “You have to realize, it always ends. It never ends the way you want it to end, but it ends, and you have to start again.
”But no matter what, it was an incredible four years. You won a championship, you know? Nothing takes that away.”
Elisburg’s comments of initial anger mirror what Pat Riley revealed about his state of mind during that moment in Heat history. Riley said that he was “angry” when James left and that a good friend “talked me off the ledge.”
Where do the Cavaliers go from here? The Heat chose to re-sign Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and then trade for Goran Dragic, an attempt back into contention that unraveled when Bosh suffered from blood clots. We’ll see what Cleveland will try after losing Kyrie Irving and James in back-to-back summers.