Four years after he abandoned Cleveland for Miami, NBA superstar LeBron James has decided to return to his hometown team, James announced Friday on Sports Illustrated’s website:
“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.”
James’ decision to sign with the Cavs comes three weeks after he announced that he would opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat, under which he was slated to make $20.5 million this year. The details of James’ deal with Cleveland have not been released yet. However, it was reported that James desired the max contract wherever he decided to play next year. Under the NBA collective bargaining agreement, the most that Cleveland can offer James is a four-year contract for $94.8 million ($23.7 million a year).
“I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work,” James wrote on SI.com.
Speculation that James would rejoin the Cavs increased when Cleveland pulled off a three-team trade on July 10 with the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets to free up salary-cap space that would have allowed them to pay James the maximum amount.
James’ decision to return to Cleveland comes four years after his very public departure from the team that came to be known as The Decision. (On July 8, 2010, ESPN broadcast James’ announcement that he was leaving Cleveland for Miami during a special one-hour TV special on the network called The Decision.)
James, the Akron, Ohio native, was drafted straight out of high school by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. He spent the first seven years of his NBA career in Cleveland where he was the 2003–04 Rookie of the Year, a two-time NBA MVP (2009, 2010), and a six-time NBA All Star, led the team to its first NBA Finals in 2007, and became the team’s all-time leading scorer.
3. LeBron James posted this photo on his Instagram on Friday.