By Matt McCoy
Four years ago in arguably the worst public relations disaster in major sports history, LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for "South Beach" in the nationally televised "Decision." It turned the most celebrated hero of Northeast Ohio into its number one arch enemy. I knew time would pass and emotions would cool but I never thought the 2010 Decision would be erased. I was wrong.
LeBron James is returning to the Cavs and his essay to Sports Illustrated announcing his return is as good as the Decision was bad.
"Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio," James wrote. "People there have seen me grow up....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."
James addressed the mistake of the Decision, patching things up with owner Dan Gilbert who blasted LeBron with the childish post-decison letter and his love of Miami and the Heat...but he drove home that he doesn't just want to win...he wants to win in Cleveland.
"When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships and we won two...but Miami already knew that feeling," James wrote in S.I. "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 to me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio."
His love of his hometown, Akron was obvious as well when he wrote, "My presence can make a difference in Miami but I think it can mean more where I'm from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there's no better place to grow up."
I'm not a Cavs fan but I rooted against LeBron James in Miami. It wasn't so much for "The Decision" but it was more because his teaming with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade felt manufactured. They won titles---and they deserved them--but when they teamed up, didn't we expect that? I felt like he bailed on the challenge of winning in Cleveland. He's not doing that now...and it's clear he understands that.
I love basketball and even in his four years in Miami, I have been in awe of LeBron's on court talent. I didn't like not being able to like him. Thanks to his essay which displayed heart, perspective and maturity, he's won me back.