CLEVELAND — His talents are going back to the shores of Lake Erie.
LeBron James, the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, announced through Sports Illustrated on Friday that he is leaving the Miami Heat and will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James wrote an article as told to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins that his “relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”
Four years ago, James, who is from Akron, Ohio, spurned the hometown Cavaliers when he held a televised show on ESPN dubbed “The Decision” from the Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn., and famously announced he was “taking my talents to South Beach.”
Almost immediately, Cleveland fans seemingly disowned James for the way he announced he was leaving, burning his jersey on the streets and booing him in his return games with the Heat.
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James led the Heat to two NBA titles and four consecutive berths in the NBA Finals during his time with the Heat. After Miami lost in five games to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, James opted out of contract and into free agency. Now, James is bolting Miami and returning to the shores of Lake Erie.
“If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things differently, but I’d still have left,” James wrote in SI. “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.”
Heat owner Micky Arison took to Twitter to express his reaction to the move by “King James.”
After James signed to team up with guard Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the team held a rally in which James predicted the number of titles they would win together: “Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven …”
There will be no such party this time.
“I’m not having a press conference or a party,” James wrote. “After this, it’s time to get to work.
“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.”
Fans erupted in Cleveland as the news broke with car horns honking throughout the city. And three of the top 10 trending terms on Twitter were almost instantly related to James.
Immediately after the announcement broke, Bovada installed the Cavaliers as the 4-1 favorites to win the NBA title next season. The San Antonio Spurs were next at 5-1 followed by the Oklahoma Thunder at 6-1.
A sampling of reaction on Twitter: