Former Cavaliers center, and ESPN analyst, Brad Daugherty loves the city of Cleveland, and was "really excited" to hear the news that free-agent forward LeBron James decided to return to Northeast Ohio and play for the team he left four years ago.
And Daugherty, who was a part of several playoff runs for the Cavaliers after they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, believes the arrival of James back in Cleveland means championships could be in the near future for the franchise.
"I've looked at this basketball team, watched the Cavs play over the last decade, and looking at this team they have right now, putting LeBron into that lineup with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, they've got some really legitimate pieces to be contenders right away in the Eastern Conference," Daugherty told ESPN on Friday.
"It's really a legitimate shot of winning a championship. He's getting up there a little bit as far as basketball is concerned, but there is still a lot of time left his game. His ability on the basketball court is a lot like Michael Jordan's, just basically indefensible.
"If he continues to play at the level that we know he can, and the young players continue to develop, Kyrie Irving continues to play at the level that he can play, I don't see anyone really, in the Eastern Conference particularly, that can deal with them. I think the Cavs will be the team to beat once we start the NBA basketball season."
Although excited for James' return to the Cavaliers, Daugherty was initially "surprised" with his decision to come back to Cleveland.
"After leaving the first time, which sent so much shock waves, he took a lot of heat," Daugherty said. "He took a lot of heat from the fans. He took a lot of heat from the owner. He took a lot of heat from his peers. I didn't think that he would want to deal with all of the drama, and this is a lot of drama, but obviously, he's built for that. He can handle it very well, and it doesn't affect him.
"I look at the basketball team he was on in the Miami Heat, and I saw a team that was obviously aging, but still a good team. They needed to add maybe one or two pieces, but that basketball team would be right back in The Finals again. I just didn't think he would want to deal with all of the scrutiny and all of the commentary and everything that goes with his moving again, but I'm glad he did because I love the Cavs. I think this is a great opportunity, over the next five seasons, to legitimately win championships."
After leaving the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in 2010, James led them to four straight trips to the NBA Finals, and back-to-back championships in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Daugherty believes that playoff experience has made James a better leader, something which he thinks will benefit a young Cavaliers team.
"I'm very excited that he decided to come back home," Daugherty said. "It is his home. I think great things are really, really ahead for the Cavaliers organization because LeBron has gone out acquired the rings he had to, to legitimize his stature in the game. Now, he can come back and utilize those experiences that are teaching moments.
"This is a championship opportunity for the Cavs, no doubt about it. The best player on the planet's coming back into the fold with the young talent that they have. Being able to add pieces next year is going to really make this formidable. I'm really excited for the Cavaliers."