MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The King comes home.
The four-time NBA MVP LeBron James broke the news in a Sports Illustrated exclusive that he will return to his original team, the Cleveland Cavaliers after spending his last four years with the Miami Heat.
“I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home,” James told Sports Illustrated.
James was drafted by the Cavaliers in 2003 and played for Dan Gilbert’s franchise until 2010, winning two NBA MVPs in the process and leading the team to the NBA Finals in 2007, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in four games.
Four years ago, James revealed to the world that he was leaving the Cavs for the Heat in a much-criticized television special, ‘The Decision’. After which, there were images and videos of Cleveland citizens burning his jersey and a letter from the team owner, Gilbert, who branded him a traitor.
Moments after Sports Illustrated broke the story on Twitter, James posted this photo on his instagram account.
James won two MVPs while playing for the Heat, led the squad to two NBA titles – in 2012 and 2013 – and helped bring them to four straight NBA Finals appearances.
For his career, James has averaged 27.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 6.4 APG. He now joins a Cavaliers team loaded with talented young players such as Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, and more.
James’ free agency decision this summer has been the biggest topic in the sports landscape over the past few weeks, following Miami’s loss in the 2014 NBA Finals to the Spurs. The decision was revealed by SI, which published an essay penned by James himself, to Lee Jenkins, explaining why he opted to return to Cleveland.
In the essay, James confirmed that there are no issues between him, Heat GM Pat Riley, owner Micky Arison, or anyone from the rest of the team.
“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,” said James.
James mentioned that he always believed he would return to finish his career in Cleveland, while raising his two sons – and a daughter on the way – near the city he grew up in.
The four-time MVP’s addition instantly makes the Cavaliers a contender in the East, but James also warned in his essay not to expect an instant title for Cleveland.
“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.”
The Cavaliers hired a new coach in David Blatt over the offseason, and will now lean on him to help guide the loaded Cleveland team – which signed Kyrie Irving to a five-year, $90 million extension recently – to a championship.
James also talked about Gilbert’s letter in his letter, saying the two have worked it out and adding: “Who am I to hold a grudge?”
LeBron ended the essay with three simple words: “I’m coming home.” – Rappler.com
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