LeBron James is heading home. That's the announcement the two-time NBA champion made in an exclusive with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated to declare his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers after a successful stint with the Miami Heat.
James said he left Cleveland because he was craving a championship. Now that he accomplished that goal twice over, he told Jenkins his focus is now bringing a title home, a mission he couldn't complete the first time around:
When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. 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.
The proclamation comes after several days of intense speculation about where James would continue his career. There were signs that pointed toward both Cleveland and Miami. In the end, he decided to head back north to join Kyrie Irving and Co.
As you'd expect, there was an instant outburst of reaction of social media.
Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report provides Dwyane Wade's reaction to James' decision:
Dwyane Wade releases statement. In part: "LeBron made the right decision for himself and his family because home is where the heart is."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 12, 2014
Wade: "As an organization, a community, & as individuals, we achieved the goals that we set when we 1st signed together. We are champions."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 12, 2014
Dwyane Wade also says in statement that he and LeBron James "created an unbreakable bond the past four years."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 12, 2014
SportsCenter dubbed it the "Return of the King":
SportsCenter also reported new NBA title odds:
Las Vegas is now making Cleveland the favorite for next season. pic.twitter.com/WH3lnPfdZF— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 11, 2014
Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns chimed in as well:
Kyrie Irving Tweeted about his new teammate:
Welcome home @KingJames— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) July 12, 2014
Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News was impressed with the maturity James showed after "The Decision" debacle last time around:
LeBron writes that the Gilbert letter and the jersey burnings were difficult to look past. But he did. Maturity, maturity.— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) July 11, 2014
Mike Hall of the Big Ten Network thinks returning to Cleveland will allow the superstar to win back many mainstream fans:
And with that, a vast majority of the fans who enjoyed rooting against Lebron now have a reason to root for him— Mike Hall (@BTNMikeHall) July 11, 2014
Kevin Kernan of the New York Post was in the Cleveland airport when a special message was made:
At airport in Cleveland about to board. They just made major announcement: "Your attention please, LeBron James is returning to Cleveland.''— Kevin Kernan (@WheresKernan) July 11, 2014
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert welcomed James back home:
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
A reunion between those two would not have seemed possible a couple years ago. Now they have put their differences aside in hopes of bringing Cleveland a championship.
On the flip side, Heat owner Micky Arison was surprised by the decision, but thanked James for his contributions over the past four seasons:
I am shocked & disappointed in today's news. However I will never forget what Lebron brought us for 4 years. Thanks for memories @KingJames— Micky Arison (@MickyArison) July 11, 2014
NBA TV provides Charles Barkley's thoughts on James' return:
Charles Barkley: "I'm a LeBron James fan for life now." http://t.co/NlUiY9S37r— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 12, 2014
ESPN Stats and Info noted what's been a productive offseason for the Cavs:
Bill Simmons of Grantland pointed out what wasn't said in James' comments about coming home:
Also - VERY interesting that LeBron didn't mention Wiggins or Bennett in that mini-essay. Makes me wonder if Kevin Love is the next domino.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) July 11, 2014
Late Show executive producer Eric Stangel joked about the source of the information after countless anonymous sources were cited in recent days concerning the decision:
Hold up. How do we know LeBron James is a credible source?— Eric Stangel (@EricStangel) July 11, 2014
Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News doesn't believe James deserves the widespread praise:
I'm not patting LeBron on the back for his well-done essay about coming home. Sorry. He never should have left.— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) July 11, 2014
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski thinks the superstar small forward will work well with new Cleveland head coach David Blatt:
David Blatt will be tremendous coach for LeBron James, an innovative, creative mind. He'll learn a lot from ways Erik Spoelstra used him.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
Colin Cowherd of ESPN thinks the letter will go a long way:
"The LeBron letter not only completely erases the Decision, but it eliminates the Gilbert letter." @ESPN_Colin— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) July 11, 2014
Now the question is whether further moves are on the horizon for the Cavs. The combination of James and Irving is strong, but the roster as it currently stands still needs some work to become a definite championship contender.
Top overall pick Andrew Wiggins could be seen as a valuable trade chip. He was expected to fill the small forward void James left four years ago. Now that it's refilled, he could be the main asset in a deal to upgrade another position.
The drama will continue to play out in the days ahead. As for now, Cleveland is celebrating the return of King James as well it should.