It was announced Friday via an interview with sportswriter Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, the best player in NBA decided to take his talents BACK to Northern Ohio. LeBron James, the biggest free agent on the market (probably ever) is going back to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James will receive the maximum contract the Cavs can offer him, $88.1 million over four years, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. That means he’ll make $20,644,400 next season and receive a $928,998 raise each year.
Why go back to Cleveland?
James grew up in Akron, not far from Cleveland. He went directly from playing high school ball (St. Vincent-St. Mary High School) in Ohio to playing professionally for the Cavaliers. His wife Savannah is also from Ohio. All of his personal and family connections seem to be in the Cleveland area. James states that “it feels right” to return and take a responsibility to be a leader, not just on the court but in his home state.
Why play for Dan Gilbert?
Nobody would have really blamed LeBron if he decided to never go back to Cleveland. James spent his first seven years in the NBA playing for the Cavs, rising to superstardom each season. James became an unrestricted free agent at 12:01 am EDT on July 1, 2010. In a televised special on ESPN called “The Decision”, James stated that he was going to “take my talents to South Beach.” James departure left deep mental wounds on the city. On the night of his televised decision, fans burned replicas of his jersey and tossed memorabilia into trash bins.
Dan Gilbert, the Cavaliers’ owner, posted a anger-felt letter to the city on the team’s website that degraded LeBron’s character. It was left up for the entire four years that James was in Miami, playing in four straight NBA FInals, becoming a four-time league MVP, Finals MVP twice, and winning two NBA titles. Gilbert’s letter was taken off the website early this week, probably when Cleveland found out they had a chance to get their “native son” back on the team.
To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough,” James told SI. “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?
Welcome Home @kingjames. I am excited for the fans and people of Cleveland and Ohio. No fans and people deserve a winner more than them…..
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) July 11, 2014
After reading the statement James released to Sports Illustrated, I understand the reason why he was coming back home. He probably accepts Gilbert’s apology, but he is not coming back for the owner what-so-ever; he wants to come home and do something for Cleveland that hasn’t been done since 1964 Browns, and that’s to bring home a championship. Who’s better to do this but a native son. I respect that.
Can the Cavaliers win a title with LeBron on the roster?
They have a very good chance of bringing an NBA trophy to Cleveland. They are in the Eastern Conference where there’s a lack of high-quality teams. The Cavaliers roster is loaded with young, highly talented and athletic players, featuring All-Star Kyrie Irving. This motherload of talent is due to the suspicious luck of Cavs winning the #1 draft pick for the second consecutive year and the third time in four years, as well three straight years the Cavs having two picks in the first round.
It’s obvious James sees more long-term potential with the Cavaliers than with the Heat. Miami wasn’t athletic or talented enough to beat the San Antonio Spurs, and Miami’s recent free-agent deals with forwards Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger weren’t enough to convince James for another stint in Miami.
Metrics states that LeBron James is personally worth about 20 wins in the NBA, that by itself will leapfrog the Cavs to a top four status in the Eastern Conference. They might not win the title right away, but they are strong contenders for a few years to come.
Credit goes to James’ agent, Rich Paul, for facilitating this reunion. Even though the James-Cavs breakup was ugly, Paul remained tight with Cavs executives, including Gilbert and general manager David Griffin.
LeBron James has reached a point in his life and career where he wants to do things that are personally special to him and one of them is trying to win in Cleveland.