‘The Blueprint: LeBron James, Cleveland’s Deliverance, and the Making of the Modern NBA’ by Jason Lloyd (2017)

LeBron James is currently appearing in the NBA finals for the 8th year in a row.   The biggest superstar in a sport where superstars matter more than any other, James has been one of the biggest names in US sport since he was 18 years of age.

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After being drafted by his hometown Cleveland Cavilers, LeBron eventually got frustrated at never winning a title and joined Miami Heat in 2010 and combined with fellow stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade as part of Pat Riley’s ambitious plans to build a championship winning team.  Riley was able to get LeBron because he understood that winning a championship was what he wanted most – he had the fame, the endorsement and the money and knew Riley could help him get championship rings.

The Blueprint tells the story of what happened in Cleveland after LeBron’s ‘Decision’.  Once the grieving process was over, the Cleveland front office launched an ambitious plan to ensure they would be in a position to get LeBron back once he entered free agency in 2014.   The plan incorporated several losing seasons, some high-risk draft picks, and a long term plan to build a championship winning team.   It was a risky, ingenious and amazingly succesful plan which provided a new roadmap for how to build a championship team over time.  Unfortunately for Cav’s fans, it’s unlikely to be a dynasty with some key players from the 2016 championship team leaving and the Golden State Warriors continuously standing in the way.

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Llyod spent these and many other years as a reporter in Cleveland covering the NBA and the Cavs and couldn’t have been better positioned to write this book.   The book is also the story of Cleveland sports – the heartbreak and the tragic endings Lloyd takes us through all of the tragic endings that Cleveland sports die-hards had to endure since the Browns won the NFL championship in 1964.

Ultimately the book is primarily a testament to just how great LeBron James is.  More than anything, it highlights the transformative effect he had on both his teams. It paints a portrait of a player who learned from his mistakes, from being too brash and too arrogant in his public pronouncements.  Of a player who discovered what it takes to lead teams of all different talent levels.

The Blueprint is a very enjoyable and entertaining read. Llyod tells a fascinating story of  the relationship between a star and his city, of anguish and redemption and of how to build a championship winning team in the modern NBA.

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