Dear LeBron: Welcome Home

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2014

LeBron James attends the LeBron James Skills Academy Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

Two years ago I penned a letter of appreciation to LeBron James after he accomplished the one single goal that had eluded his illustrious career to that point—an NBA Championship.

Some of the reaction that fell from my decision to write it and show James support fell on narrow-minded, still bitter Cleveland fans, saying I wasn’t a “true Cavs fan,” and that I had “jumped on the bandwagon.”

After reading LeBron’s letter on this morning in announcing that he was returning to Cleveland, I hope everyone can now understand why each word that I wrote in that first piece came from my heart, and why this guy has, for better or worse, been assigned the role of Ohio’s prodigal son.

In LeBron’s first go-round with the Cavs, what made us fans hurt the most was that he didn’t seem to understand the enormity of our passion. He failed to drive to the basket in clutch situations. He refused to carry his team on his back as he proved to do time and time again in Miami.

He had it in him, but he constantly let us down each year.

We, at times, called him overrated. We questioned his passion and desire to really bring a title to our city. We were all wrong.

What James did in Miami wasn’t just win titles for a franchise that rented him for four years with his good buddies, but he grew up.

It’s easy to forget that LeBron was a mere 25 years old when he did the regrettable “The Decision” on national TV, leaving Cleveland at the alter and causing a firestorm of emotion that poured out, including fans burning his jerseys, cursing him forever and, of course, that damn Dan Gilbert letter.

But, in his own words, who is James to hold a grudge? His maturity led to him swallowing his pride. His willingness to change has not only made him a two-time NBA champion, but a better man.

He gets it now.

For everyone from the 330 or 216, you understand what this means to the city of Cleveland. This is more than a basketball decision, but a love for a town that was always the butt of the jokes and the girl who tried looking good with too much makeup.

Who knows how things will shake up now that James is back in Cleveland. While his Decision 2.0 brings a smile to all of our faces for the thought of NBA title(s), reading his letter reminded me why I'm proud to be from Northeast Ohio. Why the loyalty and love outweighs the heartaches.

We’re a bunch of ragtag, blue-collar, passionate, humble and proud people who, whether still local or a land far, far away, carry those characteristics each and every day—and James knows and loves that.

In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. LeBron knows that— it’s time to get his lunch pale and go to work.

Welcome back, King James.