When LeBron James returns to Miami on Christmas Day with the Cleveland Cavaliers, fans will have a chance to do one of a few things: most notably cheer the superstar forward for helping the Heat win two NBA titles or boo him for his departure.
Dave Hyde, a columnist with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, believes Heat fans should applaud James for his efforts. Not because he brought Miami two championships in four NBA Finals appearances, but because of what he did in games many superstars might have found unworthy of their full effort.
"LeBron gave his appreciation to fans every night out for four years by being the best ticket in sports. It wasn't just the two titles, four NBA Finals and his two Most Valuable Player awards.
"It was every bleepin' night in the center ring of a basketball circus. A meaningless March night against Charlotte became a 61-point spectacle. A trivial stretch in the spring became a 27-game win streak. A clubhouse joke turned into a Harlem Shake video.
"That's not even getting into the big games that created the biggest celebrations this sports city has seen. And, if we're honest, that's really what people are upset about. He was our shiny toy that went home. And took everyone with him."
Hyde went on to note that James might get only a token video highlight clip to thank him, the same as a former player like reserve forward James Jones might get. That's all good, and it's the Heat organization's prerogative to decide how to fete him.
But Hyde had one last reminder about the day.
"The way it works in sports is players come and go, teams ebb and flow," he wrote. "But sometimes magic is delivered. For four years, LeBron and the Heat brought a singular magic to South Florida in the form of titles and awards and every night entertainment.
"Maybe on his next visit to AmericanAirlines Arena, certainly by his visits next year, there will be reason to push everything he did in a Heat uniform to the side and ignore it.
"Just not this first time."
You might not be a fan of LeBron James, but it's hard to ignore what he meant to Miami and continues to bring to the game of basketball.