August 21, 2014

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Cavaliers: LeBron James tells world he’s ‘coming home,’ returning to Cleveland after 4 years away

LeBron James (AP Photo/Lori Shepler, File)

LeBron James (AP Photo/Lori Shepler, File)

CLEVELAND — “King James” is coming home to reclaim his throne.

In a heartfelt first-person essay, LeBron James announced Friday he is rejoining the Cavaliers after spending the last four years with the Miami Heat.

The Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High graduate broke the news himself before boarding a flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Rio de Janeiro to attend the World Cup final.

“I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when,” the four-time NBA MVP wrote exclusively for Sports Illustrated. “I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown.

“I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”

Though the terms of James’ contract were not disclosed, he is expected to sign a four-year deal worth $90 million upon his return to Ohio.

The Cavaliers already have All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving locked up through 2019-20, making them an immediate Eastern Conference title contender.

The length of the pact is notable because James had told other teams he was only seeking a two-year, maximum-level deal in his second foray into unrestricted free agency.

“I am shocked and disappointed in today’s news,” Heat owner Micky Arizon said. “However, I will never forget what LeBron brought us for four years. Thanks for the memories, King James.”

James spent his first seven seasons with Cleveland — highlighted by an NBA Finals appearance in 2007 — before infamously announcing that he “was taking (his) talents to South Beach” on live television on July 8, 2010.

In Miami, he led the Heat to four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, winning two world championships while forming the “Big Three” with shooting guard Dwyane Wade and power forward Chris Bosh.

James informed Wade of his decision to leave during their Thursday night flight from Las Vegas, where they were attending the LeBron James Skills Academy. Yahoo also reported Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert received the word in a phone call from James’ agent, Rich Paul, just minutes before the open letter was posted.

“While I am disappointed by LeBron’s decision to leave Miami, no one can fault another person for wanting to return home,” Heat president Pat Riley said. “LeBron is a fantastic leader, athlete, teammate and person, and we are all sorry to see him go.”

James is the third-leading scorer in NBA history at 27.5 points per game — trailing Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain — and has averaged 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 842 games. He remains Cleveland’s all-time leader in points (15,251), steals (955) and minutes played (22,119).

James admitted that the scathing letter written by Gilbert when he left the franchise four years ago weighed heavily on his mind. So did the venomous reaction of Cleveland fans.

“To make the move, I needed the support of my wife and my mom (Gloria), who can be very tough,” he said. “The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed.

“It was easy to say, ‘OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.’ But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?”

Gilbert was predictably thrilled with the news, tweeting that his 8-year-old son asked him, “Daddy, does this mean I can finally wear my LeBron jersey again? Yes it does, son. Yes it does!”

The Michigan billionaire continued, “Welcome home King James. I am excited for the fans and people of Cleveland and Ohio. No fans and people deserve a winner more than them.”

Though he lived in Coconut Grove, Fla., while realizing his title dreams, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound small forward returned to his Bath Township estate each summer.

James also frequently visited Akron during breaks in the NBA season, and had Swenson’s burgers and shakes delivered to the visiting locker room each time the Heat played at Quicken Loans Arena.

But no matter how hard they tried, LeBron and Savannah James never felt like South Florida was truly home.

“I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up,” he said. “Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

“In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com

  • golfingirl

    I bow at the altar of the great “King.”

    So now Cleveland has LeBron back, Johnny Football and most importantly, the Republican National Convention.

    Oh…..almost forgot…..The Gay Games!

    • luvmytoaster

      I can’t wait to see The Gay Games! (Sarcasm)…..when are the Heterosexual Games coming to town?

      • Guest

        The Gay Games are open to all, regardless of gender identity or orientation. :-)

        • luvmytoaster

          Oh so in this instance “Gay” means happy?

          • golfingirl

            And queer means strange.

            I mean, if they wanted to find words to describe their lifestyle, they could of at least invented their own…..instead of redefining ones that already exist.

        • ken

          only gays wanna go

    • TruthWhisperer

      And they are all smarter than you, By the way, my IQ is 139, considerably above yours, I can assure you.

      Righ Genius?

      LOL

      • HankKwah

        Righ Genius?

        Right??? LMAO Yea, your IQ might 13-9, or 13.9, but for the stuff you post and the typos you make, you can only dream of 139.

        • Sis Delish

          Anyway… you can try to call people names on the internet, but that makes you, well the same old grumpy man you were before.

          • HankKwah

            Says yet another new troll. And that would make you, um, the biggest hypocrite here?

          • golfingirl

            Looks like we have another Sis Delish wannabe.

            Could you be the “TruthWhisperer,” since you were just banned last week?

            So obvious!

            Mommy must have had another computer for you to play on, with a different IP Address.

          • Republican party Chp #3393

            That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works.

      • Marlie

        *Right, Genius?

    • TruthWhisperer

      By the way, my IQ is 139, considerably above yours, I can assure you.

      Whats your IQ?

      • Marlie

        *What’s

    • Starryeyes63

      Boy talk about forgetting to sing out UNtruthwhisperer can remember what he posts. notice multiple double posts.

      • HankKwah

        Yea, HE’S a genius.LMAO

      • golfingirl

        The “guest” comments here were deleted, not because they were inappropriate, but because a certain poster was using multiple names under the same IP Address, just as we suspected.

        Thank you CT for your awareness of the issue and taking corrective action.

        • Sis Delish

          Check out this IP!

          • golfingirl

            Yeah….looks like mommy let you use another computer, with a different IP, didn’t she?

            Back to playing with your Legos little one.

          • Guest

            Maybe I could play with your boss?

    • Guest

      It is so sad to see people like you who are on literally every post of the local newspaper. Sad that you are so lonely.

      • HankKwah

        Funny that folks like you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to register a screen name so we can track all you trolls.

    • Guest

      You should bow, since you are already on your knees.

  • luvmytoaster

    “I’m coming home”….until a better offer surfaces…….

  • Bob

    WHO CARES!!!!! yawn…

  • Scout

    Well good!!!

  • oldruss

    Wish I had an exclusive on the palm frond concession.

  • ken

    I didn’t want him back

  • Guest

    golfingirl would complain if JESUS came back. Troll.

    • Kim

      Haha!!!
      So true

    • golfingirl

      According to many in Cleveland, Jesus did just return…laughing.

  • Guest

    golfingirl would complain if JESUS came back! Troll…

    • golfingirl

      Looks like TruthWhisper is at it again…aren’t you…..laughing.

  • golfingirl

    I suppose this makes him the “Homecoming King.”

  • HankKwah

    I’d really like to hear him say, “I understand why everyone was angry with me and I apologize for the way things went with the way I left.”

    • Keith

      Accept what he said!!! Who are you to want more? Graceless and legalistic jerk!

      • HankKwah

        Wow, a new troll. Thanks for introducing yourself. Many will be the opportunity for you to embarrass yourself.

        • Guest

          You are so crafty, tell me more about this banned you speak of.

          • HankKwah

            4 comments (as of 1:41 am 7/15)

            You move quick for someone whose account was banned. So, the time you were gone, was all of it spent thinking up a new name??

          • Guest

            Should I make it private….

            Naw, you need something to live for!

          • HankKwah

            Ok?

  • Otter

    BFD, that’s all I’ve got

  • Scout

    People make mistakes and people grow up. He went away to ‘college’ and returned a man. I like him & I make no apologies. I hope his best days are ahead of him and he does well for Cleveland.

    • Oneday67

      Returned a man? SMH. Let’s see if he fakes another injury when the going gets tough. He realized he doesn’t have to win a championship in cleveland to be liked and the pressure in Miami was too much for him. Remember he was going to win not 1, not2, not 3, not 4…. What a joke. If cavs get a championship out of this I will be happy but until then it will be the same thing we saw before.

      • Keith

        Shut up one day!!!

  • HankKwah

    Amusing how sac-less trolls (like “Guest”) accuse other people of being trolls, while they troll threads and accuse other people of being horrible.

    Look up the word “hypocrite”, and see thyself.

  • Guest

    Banned!?!?
    Banned!?!?!

    There is no such thing on the internet!

  • Guest

    But your bannign did not hold…
    I like that you want to have the last word all the time…

    Hank is great!

  • HankKwah

    When you start over with a new name, you were banned. Next step is having your IP blocked. Which might be difficult since you live at the library.