LeBron James is returning home to Ohio, reversing the decision he made four years ago that led to two NBA titles in Miami and crushed Cleveland Cavalier fans.
James told Sports Illustrated for a story published Friday that he was signing with the Cavaliers because his relationship with Northeast Ohio is "bigger than basketball."
"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 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 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 & disappointed in today's news," Heat managing general partner Micky Arison wrote on Twitter. "However I will never forget what Lebron brought us for 4 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.