Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
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Four years ago when LeBron James decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, the city of Cleveland was in absolute disarray. Cleveland had been so close so many times to bringing home a championship, but it never happened. Their greatest shot at winning a title just took his talents to South Beach and even though Dan Gilbert’s letter felt good for a little while, the chances of Cleveland getting that close to a NBA title ever again were pretty slim to none.
Then, within the last three weeks, the dominoes were beginning to come up wine & gold. James opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat and then the speculation started to kick up in a hurry. Teams like Houston, Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles were thrown into the ring as potential suitors, but we all knew in our heart of hearts that the “decision” was coming down to Miami or Cleveland. The “Big 3” wanted to stay together in Miami, but the pull of coming home was too much for LeBron as he decided to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers just a few short hours ago.
He released his decision in an essay to SI.com and of everything he said, it was the drive of winning a title back home that brought him to his latest choice. "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," said James in his essay.
As a Cavs fan and a fan of basketball, I will admit that I was devastated when LeBron bolted for Miami four years ago. As he collected a couple of titles down in South Beach, it was obvious that LeBron had made the right decision and I wasn’t upset with him for leaving anymore, just how he left. That is all in the past now and I am happy that he is back in Cleveland, but I wasn’t the only one that felt that way.
In his extremely well written first-person letter, LeBron stated that, "My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now." Looking back on it now, how could we expect him to realize that? James was only 25 years old back in 2010 and not only did he have the city of Cleveland in the palm of his hand, but he also had the weight of it on his shoulders.
The city, the team, the economy and the society were all-in on this kid from Akron. For his entire life, LeBron has been about nothing but basketball. To him, that is all there was and after growing as a person, player, businessman and family man during his time in Miami, LeBron finally realizes that Northeast Ohio is where he needs to be and I think LeBron is finally the man that Northeast Ohio wanted him to be four years ago.
Whether Cavalier fans want to admit it or not, we all wanted LeBron back. We missed the days of expecting a trip to the NBA Finals and were tired of hoping for a .500 season. It has definitely been a rough last four years and even though the last few weeks haven’t been good to my blood pressure, the fact of the matter is that LeBron James is no longer a kid from Akron, but more like a man on a mission as he heads back to Cleveland in pursuit of a hometown title.