Four years after breaking a city's heart by leaving, LeBron James announced that he will return to play for his old team once again. In an op-ed published in Sports Illustrated, the 29-year old James, who left the Cavaliers in 2010, announced that he would be returning to the team this season after four years with the Miami Heat.
"Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio," the Akron native wrote. "I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home."
James was drafted out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Ohio by the Cavaliers in 2003 and took them one NBA Finals before leaving as a free agent, announcing his departure via a much reviled TV special "The Decision," which aired on ESPN. His departure was also met with harsh words from Cavalier's owner Dan Gilbert, as well as angry protests from fans who took to the streets to burn the star's jersey.
This time around, "King James" emphasized that he's doing things differently.
"I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work," James said. "I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?"
James originally left Cleveland seeking his first NBA Championship by joining fellow NBA stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to form "The Big Three," winning 2 NBA Championships, 2 Finals MVP awards, and 2 additional league MVP awards.
"The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys," James said of his 4 seasons playing for Coach Erik Spoelstra and the Heat."I've talked to some of them and will talk to others. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished."
Four year later, James returns to a Cleveland team that was 33-49 last season.
"I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, , much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested."
Instead, he looks forward to taking on a mentor and leadership role with the team, as well as continuing to promote the city of Cleveland by returning to the Cavaliers.
"I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up," he wrote. "Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get."
Now, the question on everybody's minds is: Will Cleveland welcome him back?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.