It’s like seeing your ex-girlfriend, and those old feelings start to percolate. Your heart beats faster. Your palms get sweaty. And you can’t seem to put two sentences together because you’re so nervous.
That’s what LeBron James must have felt like when the Cleveland Cavaliers made their free-agent pitch. Those same old feelings began to return. That’s when LeBron realized that he still loves the Cavaliers and the Cavaliers still love him.
Sure, Cavs fans despised him and even burned his clothes when LeBron left. It’s the type of reaction you’d expect from an old flame when you publicly dump her for a younger, sexier woman from South Beach.
But time heals all wounds. LeBron and the Cavaliers are reuniting, and it feels so good.
Ever since leaving for Miami four years ago, Cleveland never left James’ mind. He even mentioned Ohio during his post-game celebration when the Heat won their second straight NBA title in 2013. James said then, “I’m just a kid from Northeast Ohio.”
Well, that same kid from Northeast Ohio is all grown up. The four years he spent in Miami (LeBron calls it his college years) made into a better person and a better player. Even Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, the man who ripped James when he left in 2010, was impressed with how James and his closest friends — who also happen to be his business partners — were very professional in their face-to-face meeting.
LeBron said “Who am I to hold a grudge?” He and Gilbert aired out their differences like men and issued their apologies.
Here is what LeBron wrote on his SI.com essay:
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.
…. 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.
…. I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But 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.
From a pure basketball standpoint, playing for the Cavaliers makes perfect sense. The way the Heat are constructed now, James has a better chance of winning another championship with the Cavaliers.
With a declining Dwyane Wade, an overmatched Chris Bosh at center and an aging roster, Miami’s championship window is closing. The Cavaliers have a budding star in Kyrie Irving and two young studs in Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins.
In the end, you can’t blame LeBron for coming home.
Joel Huerto is the editor and publisher of OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @onemanfastbreak.