LeBron James Decides to Return to Cleveland Cavaliers
The decision has been made.
Following weeks of speculation, LeBron James announced on Friday morning that he will be leaving the Miami Heat and returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As opposed to The Decision in 2010 that aired live on ESPN, the NBA All-Star and four-time league MVP made the blockbuster revelation to Sports Illustrated in a lengthy letter titled "I Am Coming Home."
"My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now," wrote LeBron, who won two NBA championships with the Heat.
"If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things 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."
LeBron immediately posted a picture of himself in a number 23 Cavaliers jersey on his Instagram page, saying "I am coming home."
James' departure marks the break-up of Miami's Big Three and puts the future of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in question.
"I went to Miami because of D-Wade and CB. … The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. I’ve talked to some of them and will talk to others. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life," he said of his now-former teammates.
"I also want to thank Micky Arison and Pat Riley [Heat owner and president] for giving me an amazing four years."
With the media having followed his every move since he announced he was entering free agency, James said he is ready to get down to business.
"I’m not having a press conference or a party. 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."
Twitter immediately exploded with reactions to the news, with Arison saying he was "shocked and disappointed."
Micky Arison's twitter post pic.twitter.com/qN8ddysehB— NBA All Access (@NBAllAccess) July 11, 2014
The state of Cleveland's other recent high profile acquisition, Johnny Manziel — who was drafted by the Browns in May — was excited that LeBron was joining him.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert posted a scorching letter to fans in 2010 on the Cavs' website, calling James "selfish," "heartless," "callous," and accusing him of "cowardly betrayal," but he welcomed the King back with open arms on Friday.
Welcome Home @kingjames. I am excited for the fans and people of Cleveland and Ohio. No fans and people deserve a winner more than them.....— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) July 11, 2014
My 8-year-old: "Daddy, does this mean I can finally wear my Lebron jersey, again?"...Yes it does, son. Yes it does!— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) July 11, 2014
Gilbert went on to reveal details of his reconciliation with the most famous player in the NBA. "We had five great years together and one terrible night," the Cavs owner told James, and so started the process of reconciliation on Sunday night in Miami, reported Yahoo! Sports.
"I told him how sorry I was, expressed regret for how that night went and how I let all the emotion and passion for the situation carry me away. I told him I wish I had never done it, that I wish I could take it back."