Return of the King: LeBron James returns to Cleveland
There was no press conference. No egotistical television special. No “I’m taking my talents to….” No news posted onto LeBronJames.com. Only a personal letter. LeBron James let the world know of his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in an interview with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. He followed shortly after with a post to his Instagram account with the caption “I’m coming home.”
Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now,” James said in the opening of carefully constructed announcement to Jenkins.
James seemed well aware of how much he hurt the city of Cleveland and the state of Ohio in 2010, but said he would have still gone to Miami if he could do it all over again.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do thing differently, but I’d still have left. Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today,” James said.
James’ career in Miami comes to an end after four seasons. Four seasons in which he went to four NBA Championships and won two Larry O’Brien trophies. As the Heat were nearly swept by the Spurs in this year’s Finals and ultimately lost in five games, one thing was obvious. Wade was well past his prime, and the odds of James continuing to win championships in Miami were diminishing almost by the day. The Heat have cap space, and they had both their Mid Level and Bi-Annual Exceptions. James seemed to hold out on his decision to see how the Heat would get better. Kyle Lowry and Marcin Gortat were among players the Heat could bring in to fill needs. They didn’t get either. Instead, they settled for Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts.
While James did not bring six, seven or even eight championships to Miami, he now has the opportunity to bring Cleveland their first. This time he is surrounded by talent. He joins a roster with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins and Triston Thompson. He has a nucleus of the young and talented players needed to be relevant for years to come. The Cavaliers will also still have cap space which they will probably use to add a veteran shooter.
While I’m sure Cleveland will forgive James, he clearly learned from 2010. There were no promises of a dynasty. However, there was one promise. While it will not be easy, it is realistic. It is all Cleveland needed to hear.
When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.
One trophy. It’s all Cleveland really wants, and it’s all James will truly need to cement his legacy. It’s no secret that Cleveland fans have been tormented through the years. But not now. Not today. This is Cleveland’s time.
Sports-Kings Pass the Pill Contributor: @THEMarkPace