Much like four years ago, LeBron James’ decision was much anticipated and filled with drama. Unlike four years ago, the announcement was swift and simple—no cameras, no TV crews and no fanfare, just a long letter explaining himself why he chose to return home and sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This time it was CNN Sports Illustrated who broke the story—in a 9-paragraph, 952-word letter as told to CNNSI’s Lee Jenkins.
“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,” opened James in the letter.
Somewhere in between he credited the Miami Heat franchise from top to bottom—including Miami owner Micky Arison and president Pat Riley, the other two players in the Heat’s “Big Three”, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and even role players like Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers.
James admitted that Ohio has been in the back of his mind even when he was delivering two championships and four finals appearances for Miami.
“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,” James said.
“I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when.”
And not like the “Not 1, Not 2, Not 3”-promise after he joined Miami in 2010, James is not guaranteeing anything in his second Cleveland stint.
“I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now,” continued the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player.
“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,” finished perhaps the greatest player in the world today.
Criticisms will again follow after The Decision 2.0; but all told, the letter showed how one great basketball player could be human too. And for LeBron James, going home is simply just the right thing to do.