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Friday, July 11, 2014

LeBron is going home

I don't care about basketball, much less the NBA. But in a world of superpaid sports stars chasing championships and money and lower state income taxes, it's almost mindblowing for a bona fide superstar in his prime to defy all the experts and announce that he's going to return to Cleveland because it's the place he calls home:
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.

Remember when I was sitting up there at the Boys & Girls Club in 2010? I was thinking, This is really tough. I could feel it. I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating. 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.

I went to Miami because of D-Wade and CB. We made sacrifices to keep UD. I loved becoming a big bro to Rio. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! 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.  I also want to thank Micky Arison and Pat Riley for giving me an amazing four years.

I’m doing this essay because I want an opportunity to explain myself uninterrupted. I don’t want anyone thinking: He and Erik Spoelstra didn’t get along. … He and Riles didn’t get along. … The Heat couldn’t put the right team together. That’s absolutely not true.

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.

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.

To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned -- seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, “OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.” But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? 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?

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. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.

But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. 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. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.

I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.
It's remarkable to see how James declines to hold a grudge against Dan Gilbert after the Cavaliers owner published a bitter, nasty open letter to him after he left Cleveland for Miami. This is the statement, and action, of a man who embraces responsibility and leadership. I won't be surprised if there are more than a few people outside Northeast Ohio hoping that one day, LeBron James is able to present that one trophy to the place, and the people, he obviously loves.

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46 Comments:

Anonymous bob k. mando July 11, 2014 1:25 PM  

this is a MUCH better ( mature, showing wisdom ) course of action than when he went the other direction.

not that i expect to be a LeBron fan after this. he's still got a really bad habit of going to sleep in the playoffs. but he's definitely grown a lot.

Anonymous Drew_Deuce's July 11, 2014 1:25 PM  

Yes! Finally a hoops post. VD is truly a renaissance man.

And I agree, it seems he finds value in community, love, honor - all of which he's finding to more valuable than money or the material.

Blogger Tank July 11, 2014 1:26 PM  

Well played.

Anonymous WaterBoy July 11, 2014 1:27 PM  

Classy.

We'll see if the Cavs fans respond in kind.

Blogger James Dixon July 11, 2014 1:28 PM  

After "The Decision", I had very little respect for Lebron as a person (I have all the respect in the world for his basketball skills). This letter shows that he's finally outgrown that immaturity and realized it's not all about him. I wish him and the Cavaliers the best.

Anonymous Toby Temple July 11, 2014 1:29 PM  

I'll have to watch the new NBA season first. See if the words spoken now resonate on how he plays basketball again with the Cavs.

Anonymous Anonymous July 11, 2014 1:41 PM  

I'm confused: how can a guy write this well and thoughtfully without a college degree?

Anonymous NateM July 11, 2014 1:43 PM  

Unless the guy was just bailing so he could get a few rings to burnish his reputation (people thinking he's the best in a relatively weak time) then going back to be the hero. This way all the idiots who base a players on how many championships they win will still say he's the best and people won't hate him

Anonymous bob k. mando July 11, 2014 2:05 PM  

James Dixon July 11, 2014 1:28 PM
After "The Decision", I had very little respect for Lebron as a person .



i wouldn't put TOO much on Lebron for that.

remember, he was only ~24 when that went down. i'm sure it was some publicist or agent or tv exec who 'convinced' ( dolla make me holla ) him that The Decision would be a fricking wonderful idea.

i doubt very, VERY much that that clownshow was something that Lebron implemented.



cailcorishev July 11, 2014 1:41 PM
I'm confused: how can a guy write this well and thoughtfully without a college degree?



indeed. i demonstrate every day how irrational and lacking in basic language competency the Great Undegreed and Unwashed Proletariat are.

Anonymous typical neoreactionary sports moron July 11, 2014 2:23 PM  

LeBron ... is he playing in the World Cup?

Blogger Guitar Man July 11, 2014 2:24 PM  

Lebron and Kobe are some of the most well spoken NBA'ers.

Anonymous Eeesh July 11, 2014 2:50 PM  

It takes a special kind of man to love... Cleveland.

Anonymous Jack Amok July 11, 2014 2:58 PM  

LeBron James has enough money and fame that he can make decisions that aren't about money and fame. Does that make his earlier decisions in favor of money and fame bad, or does it make them good since now he can be free of their allure?

Anonymous Dr. J July 11, 2014 3:01 PM  

Yeesh - team cynical here today.

Man's having a moment. Not often you get to see class in the NBA. For my part, I'm gonna enjoy it.

Anonymous DrTorch July 11, 2014 3:01 PM  

First the GOP and now LeBron?!

Wow! Things are really turning around. Johnny Football, the pressure is on.

(And Dustin Kilgore just won a silver in the University Worlds)

Blogger James Dixon July 11, 2014 3:14 PM  

> i doubt very, VERY much that that clownshow was something that Lebron implemented.

Probably not, but he played it for all he was worth. He didn't do that this time. He's obviously grown up some.

Anonymous Will Best July 11, 2014 3:27 PM  

. Does that make his earlier decisions in favor of money and fame bad, or does it make them good since now he can be free of their allure?

To be honest, I don't blame him. His whole career people have insisted he is chasing Michael. That starts to affect you.

As for how well written this is, when you that rich you can afford and editor or a good publicist. That being said, I think the sentiment is there.

Anonymous Zek July 11, 2014 3:29 PM  

Remember though... God HATES Cleveland!

(The Drive, The Fumble, The World Series, Browns move and win the super bowl as the Ravens, etc, etc, etc)

Blogger Done with it all July 11, 2014 3:36 PM  

Very nice letter... whoever wrote it.

Anonymous VD July 11, 2014 3:42 PM  

LeBron James has enough money and fame that he can make decisions that aren't about money and fame.

How many rich and famous people have you ever met that said: "you know, I think that's enough for me?" While you're correct, the fact is that he did what virtually no one expected him to do last year, or even last month.

Blogger D.J. Schreffler July 11, 2014 3:56 PM  

Both Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez left the Seattle Mariners. Griffey between the 1999 and 2000 seasons, and A-Rod after the 200 season. Griffey said it wasn't about the money, but about being closer to family, and he ended up signing a contract that was less generous than the one that Ms put together. Result: Seattleites still respected him tremendously. When the Reds finally came to play in Seattle for the first time in 2008 (in a previous season, the Ms had visited Cincinnati), the fans and announcers treated him as one of the home team. The big, booming voice announcing him, rather than the more regular tone used for an opposing team. People standing and cheering, screaming, when he hit a home run...and he stopped between first and second, turning back because he thought he was out, only to see the first base coach waving him to go around. (I was at Safeco Field for that.) And he eventually returned to finish his career. A-Rod said it wasn't about the money, and went to the Texas Rangers who signed a contract making him the highest played player in baseball. Result: hatred and vilification, not just because all he did was look for the money, but because he lied about it. And he didn't even have the excuse that he was going to a good team, because at that time, and all the time he was with them, the Rangers were at the bottom of the AL West. If he'd been honest about it, sure, people would have been angry, but nowhere near this level.

Blogger lordabacus July 11, 2014 4:02 PM  

Check the byline, y'all: "as told to Lee Jenkins." His voice, but not his writing per say.

He is a good public speaker, though. One of the things I find remarkable about high-profile athletes is that despite the fact that many are adrenaline junkies with aggression to spare, so few lose their tempers when asked some of the most stupid, vapid questions imaginable by sports journos.

Anonymous Mark Price July 11, 2014 4:23 PM  

He can't be that bright. He's an Obama-bot.
Which means he's raciss!!

Anonymous Anonymous July 11, 2014 4:26 PM  

Wait a minute. This is the internet, and so far nobody has tried to turn this post inside out and in some bogus pseudo-reasoning use it to prove something negative about our host? Are all the trolls off today?

Anonymous Anonymous July 11, 2014 4:47 PM  

How many rich and famous people have you ever met that said: "you know, I think that's enough for me?"

Yep. As a non-rich person myself, it surprises me that you don't see more extremely rich people say, "You know, that should be a big enough pile of money to last me. Now I'm going to say and do all the things that I couldn't say and do when I had to protect my paycheck." But the fact is, you don't see it very often, so it's notable when you do.

Anonymous Alte July 11, 2014 4:50 PM  

I'm sincerely hoping the literacy comments are lame jokes.

Anonymous bob k. mando July 11, 2014 5:01 PM  

James Dixon July 11, 2014 3:14 PM
Probably not, but he played it for all he was worth.



he did what everybody around him was telling him to do.

and, to be fair, they were right. they/he got a lot of ratings and a lot of money for what they did. something i wasn't aware of, they also donated a lot of money to charity:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decision_%28TV_special%29#Announcement


but it was still a very poorly thought out thing for Lebron to have done.


it seems he's reflected a little on that:
"... if the shoe was on the other foot and I was a fan, and I was very passionate about one player, and he decided to leave, I would be upset too about the way he handled it."

Anonymous bob k. mando July 11, 2014 5:06 PM  

Alte July 11, 2014 4:50 PM
I'm sincerely hoping the literacy comments are lame jokes.



you don't seem to aware of the LACK of literacy we're exposed to from "professional athletes" with "College degrees" on an almost daily basis here in the US.

the 'sports monkey who can barely write his name but still graduated college' is a running joke here.


the fact that Lebron IS so well spoken ( and written ) with little to no post-secondary education is something of a shock compared to what we normally see.

Anonymous Jack Amok July 11, 2014 5:10 PM  

How many rich and famous people have you ever met that said: "you know, I think that's enough for me?" While you're correct, the fact is that he did what virtually no one expected him to do last year, or even last month.

I know quite a few rich people who said "enough" (I worked at MSFT during the time the first/second wave of stock option multi-millionaires finished vesting). Not so many were famous though, that's a harder thing to walk away from, I think (and I also know a few from that time who got their first taste and screamed MOAR! MOAR! MOAR!).

But my point wasn't to say it's a common thing to do. It was literally to ask the question I asked afterwards:

Does that make his earlier decisions in favor of money and fame bad, or does it make them good since now he can be free of their allure?

To the extent people with fame and money don't walk away from it when they have "enough", is that because they're self-selecting? That the sort of people who can walk away from it are reluctant to pursue it so aggressively in the first place? And if so, is it inherent in their nature, or is it because our society tends to scapegoat people who are successful, to tell ourselves a comforting tale that they were bad people for doing that?

I just have the feeling that the kind of folks who say "enough" used to be better rewarded in our society, but these days so much is going to the sociopaths, and in return we tend to assume everybody doing well must be a sociopath.

Anonymous Peter Garstig July 11, 2014 5:14 PM  

Too bad he'll play second fiddle to Johnny F in Cleveland...for as long as he's on the court.

Anonymous GreyS July 11, 2014 5:46 PM  

Good for him, his family, and for Cleveland. I might have to watch an NBA game for the first time in eight years.

Anonymous Will Best July 11, 2014 6:06 PM  

How many rich and famous people have you ever met that said: "you know, I think that's enough for me?" While you're correct, the fact is that he did what virtually no one expected him to do last year, or even last month.

Actually, here in Chicago Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (two of the best players in Ice Hockey) just signed 8 year 84 million dollar deals with the Blackhawks. Each could have gotten an extra 2-3 million a year elsewhere. Tom Brady would probably make 4 million a year more playing for somebody else. You also see Hollywood actors taking min. pay deals on projects they really want to do when they could just print 20 million dollar payday after payday.

Say what you want about Bill Gates, but he clearly doesn't give a flop about making more money. Of course, that doesn't stop him from using his stash to F'up other people's lives.

Its definitely uncommon but certainly not unheard of.

Anonymous Baseball Savant July 11, 2014 6:09 PM  

I'm a big NBA fan and I love this. THE KING IS COMING HOME!!!!!!

Blogger rcocean July 11, 2014 7:44 PM  

I wish LBJ well in Cleveland. There's a city that's needs some help, it probably one notch above Detroit in terms of reputation. As for the NBA, I haven't cared since MJ retired. Occasionally, I'll watch, but its the some old thing - not enough stars, too many games, too many tattoos, and too little teamwork.

Blogger rcocean July 11, 2014 7:46 PM  

BTW, I did skim the NBA draft this year, and noticed that only 4 of the top 30 picks were native born White Americans. I think we need some Affirmative action.

Anonymous GreyS July 11, 2014 8:23 PM  

Of course, that doesn't stop him from using his stash to F'up other people's lives.

That's for sure.


Anonymous Obamaz Po0dle July 11, 2014 8:54 PM  

He didn't write that.

Anonymous beerme July 11, 2014 10:19 PM  

I hope he starts a trend. I would love to see Ohio natives return home.

Blogger Jmac July 11, 2014 10:35 PM  

"I'm confused: how can a guy write this well and thoughtfully without a college degree?"

You thought that was well written?

Blogger Jmac July 11, 2014 10:48 PM  

"the 'sports monkey who can barely write his name but still graduated college' is a running joke here.


the fact that Lebron IS so well spoken ( and written ) with little to no post-secondary education is something of a shock compared to what we normally see."

Sorry, I didn't see this comment before I published the previous one. But a lot, perhaps most, professional athletes don't graduate from college. Baseball, basketball, and hockey players can be drafted out of high school, and football players after two years of college. So which non-articulate college graduated professional athletes are you referring to?

Anonymous Wyrd July 11, 2014 11:09 PM  

The Obsession with Negroes extends far beyond America. Congrats, The Cathedral.

Anonymous Anonymous July 11, 2014 11:13 PM  

lol. If you believe a word of this drivel, I have a bridge to sell you. And some New Jersey swampland.

I don't care about basketball, but I did catch the issue of his "decision" a few years ago. Basically, the sambo tried, like many newly-minted NBA starts, to go "full rap gangsta" with his hype; he puffed his decision up to hilarious proportions (with the help of the wusses at ESPN, of course), and, after having built his reputation of hometown-boy-makes-good and made Cleveland legitimate, jerked them around and went to Miami.

It was only when he got into playing with Miami that he truly realized what an ass he'd made of himself---even white sports reporters were criticizing him! So he got a new PR flack, did a lot of man-of-the-people PR, and now, after his time winning is over and Miami isn't a contender, can "fix" his legacy by going to Cleveland again.

All done only to save face. Nothing he wrote here is true, he just doesn't want "the Decision" to be a defining moment in his career. This is a purely superficial move.


Now it must be said: the salary cap in the NBA hurts small-market teams. How??? Simple. If teams can't compete on price---then the city itself becomes the selling point. And what young blag thug would choose Toronto or Memphis or Phoenix when LA or Miami can have him? So small market teams now have to do the same thing as before--draft young and build there.

PR rape!

Anonymous castricv July 12, 2014 1:16 AM  

I wouldn't read too much into this. He obviously has the best pr men money can buy after "the Decision" fiasco made him a laughing stock. Also "you can't go home again".
Lot of bridges were burned and I fear that the Cleveland curse is stronger than even a slightly again LeBron and team of misfits can overcome.

Anonymous King of rock July 12, 2014 6:03 AM  

Notice how that sucka MC Jamie dont talk BB shit now that his Lakers suk da bozak. Oh..

Anonymous Alte July 12, 2014 8:12 AM  

"the fact that Lebron IS so well spoken ( and written ) with little to no post-secondary education is something of a shock compared to what we normally see."

Oh, okay. Although, I'm sure you realize that speaking and writing well aren't things that you learn in college. I learned in high school and from reading.

Anonymous Tom B July 12, 2014 2:28 PM  

While Lebron does have an element of "making things right" in his decision, there is also a legacy of NBA players chasing a ring and then going elsewhere for the money later in their career. So Lebron isn't chasing the money - it speaks well for him, it really does. But it is still the same pattern, and one that shows in vivid detail why I won't let my children adopt athletes as a hero.

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