Sport

He's going home!

LeBron James says he’s returning to Cavaliers

Saturday, July 12, 2014    

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CLEVELAND, USA (AP) — LeBron James is going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ending a saga that had the NBA virtually at a standstill while he made up his mind, James told Sports Illustrated for a story published yesterday that he's decided to go home. His decision reverses the move he made when he left the Cavaliers for Miami four years ago, and a twist that would have seemed unfathomable after the venomous fallout when he joined the Heat.

"When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission," James said in the SI first-person story. "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."

He added: "My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realise that four years ago. I do now."

He spent his first seven NBA seasons in Cleveland. In four years with the Heat, he went to the NBA Finals four times, winning two championships. And now he heads back to Cleveland to see if he can finally deliver on his promise of winning a crown for that title-starved city.

For Cleveland, it's a new day.

For Miami, it's the end of a championship run.

"I am shocked and disappointed in today's news," Heat managing general partner Micky Arison wrote on Twitter. "However, I will never forget what Lebron brought us for four years. Thanks for memories."

James said he will always call Miami his second home.

But the lure of his first one was simply too strong to ignore. James is from Akron, Ohio, not far from Cleveland.

"Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It's where I walked," James told SI. "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."

He left Cleveland being called disloyal, a narcissist, a coward and a quitter -- and that was all by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who wrote that infamous

letter blasting James for choosing Miami.

And now James will play for Gilbert again.

"I'm not having a press conference or a party," James told SI. "After this, it's time to get to work."

And with that, the "Big 3" era in Miami ends much sooner than the Heat expected.

James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all exercised options in their contracts to become free agents this summer, but the thinking was that they would re-do their deals to give the team financial flexibility in an effort to make upgrades to the roster.

Instead, the game's biggest star is heading back to his roots. Bosh may now leave as well, with widespread reports that the Houston Rockets are preparing to give him a four-year contract offer worth about $88 million. And the Heat face a decidedly uncertain future, a stunning twist for a franchise that has won the last four Eastern Conference titles.

James doesn't turn 30 until this December, so it's safe to say that he just may be reaching his peak.

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