The full title of Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin’s new book is “Return of the King: LeBron James, The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Greatest Comeback in NBA History”. It is quite a mouthful and was quite a read.
“Return of the King” chronicles a two-year period of time that drastically shifted the landscape of the NBA and gave us some of the most memorable Finals moments ever. The book starts with a detailed account of LeBron James’ last days in Miami and his decision to come home to Cleveland. The opening fifth of the book might honestly be my favorite section. The reporting is first class and the detail the reader gets is incredible. From a seed planted at a jersey retirement ceremony to the Internet tracking private jets, there are so many awesome stories in the first few chapters.
I just spent time praising the first 20% of the book, although the last 80% is probably what people wanted from it. I was surprised how much time was spent on Cleveland’s 2014-15 season, but after reading that section, it made sense. Remember, the Cavs started that season 19-20 and had plenty of drama behind the scenes. Plus, David Blatt and all of the nuances that came with his hiring and firing was a story worth retelling.
I am unfortunately a slow reader, but I tore through this book. Obviously, everyone knows the outcome but the story told builds to this crescendo that kept making me want to turn the page. Seasoned readers of either Windhorst or McMenamin might be able to differentiate who wrote which parts, but the book flows really well. I have read reviews that have said it perhaps isn’t very well written. Windhorst and McMenamin are not Charles Dickens, sure, but they are great reporters. This book is not supposed to be “A Tale of Two Cities”. It is an account of events. Anyway, I happen to think it is pretty well written.
It is often odd reading something on the page that feels historic, and is, but happened such a short time ago. I found myself able to remember exactly where I was for every major event detailed in the book. For Cavs fans, this is essential reading. For NBA fans, this is an excellent look into not just a comeback, but what it takes to build a team and the breaks that have to go their way to become champions.