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It often takes a few years for Hollywood to release a blockbuster sequel, and LeBron James’ follow up to 2010’s The Decision has been four years in the making.
In the original action-shocker that aired live on ESPN, the six time All-Star turned his back on his home state of Ohio and left the Cleveland Cavaliers for a bright future with the Miami Heat.
Once again a free agent after exercising his early termination option with the Heat, the latest frenzy around James’ future plans has felt like watching Groundhog Day.
With a release date anxiously anticipated some time this week following Wednesday’s meeting between the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and Heat owner Pat Riley in Las Vegas, veteran sports analyst Chris Sheridan vouched his reputation on the prediction that James would be returning to the Cavaliers.
“The Decision has been made. LeBron James is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers,” the former ESPN sportswriter announced on his website SheridanHoops.com, citing anonymous league sources.
“For Cleveland, this is one of the most important days in the city’s sports history. No pro team has won a title of any kind since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964, and now there is a distinct possibility that the 50-year drought can end,” he went on to explain.
“James will be joining a team led by Kyrie Irving, who just agreed to a five-year contract extension, along with Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in last month’s draft. It is a young core that will grow older with James as their tutor and leader, and he returns to Cleveland as a grown man who has learned what it takes to win.”
To further support his claims about the close race, Sheridan tweeted a photo of the Vegas odds of there LeBron will go, with the Cavaliers coming in at 6-1, the Heat at 5-1, Chicago Bulls at 7-1, and the Lakers trailing at 30-1.
I understand y’all want me to say something more, but I’ve said all I needed to say. This photo from Vegas. pic.twitter.com/O1a7JUaGSg
— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) July 10, 2014
The solid prediction fueled the already burning fire of speculation on social media, with ESPN sports business analyst Darren Rovell revealing how millions of eager fans were logging onto LeBron’s own website desperate for updates.
LeBron James could have built the largest athlete database ever if he required a log-in to http://t.co/XwNCaqxLlM tonight.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) July 9, 2014
The desperate pleas of the city of Cleveland was compared to romantic comedy classic Say Anything, with the Cavaliers playing the starring role of John Cusack.
Cavaliers pitch to LeBron James: pic.twitter.com/k3FFHCH8HP
— Jason Gay (@jasonWSJ) July 9, 2014
Even tennis champion Andy Roddick was getting in on the speculation frenzy.
I’m first to confirm that Lebron James ate food last night ……
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) July 9, 2014
While Joel McHale called out SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy for covering the non-news so much.
— Joel McHale (@joelmchale) July 9, 2014
Basketball broadcast legend Dick Vitale pointed out that with Johnny “Football” Manziel also coming to town with the Browns, Cleveland was going Hollywood.
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) July 8, 2014
“Today in Cleveland set the record for the most times a Twitter timeline has been refreshed, it was a wild day on social media,” WKNR Cleveland sportscaster Aaron Goldhammer told ESPN News on Wednesday night.
Goldhammer went on to say that he predicts both Cavaliers Dan Gilbert and James will need to apologize for the angry words said when the Akron native departed Ohio in a blaze of controversy in July 2010. As fans burned their number 23 jerseys and cried in the streets, Gilbert wrote an open letter on the Cavs’ website, calling James “selfish,” “heartless,” “callous,” and accused him of “cowardly betrayal,” for which he was later fined $100,000 for by then-NBA commissioner David Stern.
After winning two NBA championships since he left Cleveland, everyone there “agrees that going to Miami was the right move for his basketball career, but people here believe he led them on,” Goldhammer said, and the worst part was the “embarrassing TV special … I still think it was the meanest thing an athlete has done to a city, and I think LeBron agrees.”
With a maximum price tag of $20.7 million, according to ABC News, James is never a cheap purchase, but sports marketing expert Kevin Adler, chief engagement officer at Engage Marketing, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the profits he creates across the board make him worth it.
“We call it the ‘Michael Jordan factor,’ as when he was at the Bulls and became a brand, he boosted attendance and all the revenue streams, including sales, concessions, merchandise, sponsorship revenue and the team’s total television exposure,” he explains.
“LeBron is one of a small number of professional athletes who has that type of potential impact—and back In Cleveland, he would be head and shoulders over everyone else there.”
Adler went on to the reveal that the outcome of James’ decision most likely won’t be about the bottom dollar, but where he can get his next championship ring. “It is not about money, it is about cementing a legacy. Where is the best place to go to win? If Cleveland makes enough salary cap space to get more players and build a team around him, then that could be it.”
James’ latest supporting castmember could be Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, who is rumored to be heading to Cleveland if a deal goes through, tweeted Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
The Cavaliers are pursuing a Kevin Love trade with Minnesota, contingent on the signing of LeBron James, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
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