Power of his roots trumped bright lights of South Beach

matt examiningsports

Home was truly where LeBron James’ heart was.

Miami might be a dream destination for many. But in the end it was a business trip for James. He won his championships. He felt what it was like to be on top. But it wasn’t home.  

Cleveland, often a butt of jokes when it comes to pro sports cities, could offer more than the glitz of South Beach.

“Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio,” wrote James in an essay on Sports Illustrated’s web site. “It’s where I walked. 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.”

His decision to return home Friday shocked those outside of Ohio. But there was always a hope here in the Buckeye State that the King would come back. James never seemed completely comfortable with his original decision to leave his roots.

“I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland,” he said. “The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”

Chris Russo, who has a national sports talk show on Sirius XM, said earlier this week that he could not imagine why LeBron would want to leave Miami for Cleveland. He dismissed the opportunity to go home, saying that a lot of pro athletes have spurned their home towns for better opportunities elsewhere.

But I felt all along that there was something different with LeBron. He not only professed a love for Northeast Ohio, he lived it. He attended games at his old high school — Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron — while he was playing for the Cavaliers. Several of his fellow SVSM alums became part of his management team.


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