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LeBron James going home, to sign with Cleveland Cavaliers

Jul 11, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT

Thomas Wolfe was wrong, at least about LeBron James. You can go home again.

LeBron James is heading back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he announced the decision on his own terms.

LeBron, via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

For a long time, many didn’t believe the Cavs had a serious chance to lure LeBron back, but they did it.

In Cleveland he will be welcomed home like the prodigal son. 

[ RELATED: Why LeBron is going home, in his own words ]

And with Kyrie Irving in the fold and a number of decent to good young players (Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins) this is now a team that is a contender to win the East. Their youth and playoff inexperience is going to leave them short of the top teams in the West, but the Cavaliers certainly could make the Finals, LeBron James’ fifth in a row. This is a team with a lot of potential.

The Cavs also have the draft picks and assets to make some moves and go after some veterans and bigger names, including Kevin Love.

LeBron is also the first domino to fall in what should be a rush of free agent signings such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, Luol Deng, Lance Stephenson and others. 

LeBron played his first seven years in Cleveland, but after some terrible management moves they we’re unable to put a quality team around him. The Cavaliers with LeBron made the Finals once and he grew frustrated with the organization and talent.

So he teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and formed a super team in Miami — and it worked on the court, the Heat went to four straight NBA Finals and won two titles. However, off the court how LeBron handled the announcement was a public relations disaster — “The Decision” is mocked to this day and it pummeled LeBron James image.

[ MORE: LeBron implies Dan Gilbert’s letter was a mistake, but absolves owner ]

In the last four years the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — in which the owners slashed the players share of revenue by seven percent and put in rules to make it very hard to form or maintain a super team — have eroded the Heat. Pat Riley, for years, has mostly been limited to adding minimum-salary players or a couple who made slightly more. Some worked, such as Ray Allen, and others didn’t, such as Michael Beasley.

But Riley couldn’t easily add the kind of young, athletic players the Spurs had and beat the Heat with in the 2014 Finals, guys such as Kawhi Leonard.

One of the hard-line owners who pushed for those super team restrictions? Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

Now he wants one of his own — the Cavaliers just signed Kyrie Irving to a max extension and have LeBron, now they are trying to swing a trade for Kevin Love. That would likely take the inclusion of No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins in a deal, and even that may not be enough.

Heat owner Micky Arison responded this way:

Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert’s reaction:

And finally, from LeBron’s Instagram page.

266 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. seasickcecil - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    I’ll say this for the last time no way Lebron goes back to Cleveland.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Excuse me, it’s like this!

  2. themagicfanguy - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    I was almost expecting a huge outcry from Miami fans, then I realized they all already left halfway through the Finals. Have fun being Cavs fans losers!

  3. fpstratton - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    I am so happy for Cleveland and the good people of Ohio. This has worked out well: Cleveland has stockpiled some young talent, made significant progress over the last couple of years, and now lands the big fish. LeBron is still young, capable of helping to win more championships, and because he has two under his belt, won’t feel the pressure as much. A relaxed LeBron will be good for his team, and his desire to bring a title to Ohio will carry him through. Good for the Cavaliers!

  4. ProBasketballPundit - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Miami traded two first rounders to Cleveland for LeBron and two second rounders to Toronto for Bosh if I’m not mistaken. Question now is… are any of those picks yet to be delivered? Because if so Cleveland could be getting a lottery pick…

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      I checked realGM and Cleveland gets:

      2015 first round draft pick from Miami
      Miami’s 1st round pick to Cleveland protected for selections 1-10 in 2015 or 1-10 in 2016 or unprotected in 2017 [Cleveland-Miami, 7/9/2010]

      • miamatt - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        With Miami’s track record (yes, even before LeBron) and the condition of the East, it’s doubtful the Cavs get a lottery pick.

        Since the ’93-’94 season, Miami has missed the playoffs 4 times, and just once in the past decade.

  5. ranfan12 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    cavs 99%. 1st seed

  6. 1friendofthepeople - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    There is at least a few true Miami fans and that franchise has an ugly road ahead, that’s tough, don’t think they deserve to have it rubbed in.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      Thrill of victory. Agony of defeat.

  7. seasickcecil - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Cleveland got the 2016 Republican National Convention and Lebron James back in the same week. Throw in Wiggins and Manziel and I think hell can freeze over now.

  8. xjokerz - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    good job bron.

  9. Gabbo - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    I think the Pat Riley/Micky thing is underestimated. The original Cavs didn’t blink in giving Lebron max dollars, went out of their way to hire all of Lebron’s posse, hire the coach he wanted, and sign all the free agents that he wanted (even though that would put them in salary cap hell). They did everything he wanted, which is why Gilbert felt so burned. The Heat purposely dumped payroll to pay less tax! Riley shafted Lebron the whole time. They maxxed out everything Lebron gave them and gave nothing back. Even funnier is they asked him to take less.

    • gofinsgoheatfloria - Jul 12, 2014 at 6:33 AM

      “Riley/Micky”? I’m not sure about that formulation. Let’s do a thought experiment. Replace Arison with Mikhail Prokhorov. Leave Riley where he is. Does yesterday still happen? I don’t think so.

      A short time ago, Riley said, very publicly, that Arison would spend what was needed to keep the Big 3 intact. LeBron waited, and I have seen no reason for this offered other than the obvious: to give the Heat a chance to match actions to words. Arison did not do that; but what is more astonishing is his claim, apparently meant seriously, of “shock” at the outcome. There is a major disconnect here that could with more examination than the pundits have been giving it.

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - Jul 12, 2014 at 6:36 AM

        *could do

      • Gabbo - Jul 13, 2014 at 9:19 PM

        Riley also said he wasn’t going to amnesty anyone 3 days before he amnestied Mike Miller with no replacement in order to save money. Prokhorov would never allowed this to happen. Does Mike Miller save the Heat vs Spurs? Probably not, but he sure isn’t going to make things worse.

    • miamatt - Jul 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      Gabbo- the Heat never asked James to take less- that was the players decision the first go round, and Riley was very clear that he would not ask any of the players to take less, that it would have to be something that comes from them.

      Also, the Heat spent all that they could under the rules from the CBA up until the final year, when they amnestied Mike Miller and didn’t use their MLE. How was Riley shafting LeBron the whole time? By bringing in guys like Battier, Allen, and Birdman, guys who were major parts of two championships? “Maxxed” out everything and gave nothing back to LeBron? He came their to win championships, and the Heat delivered on giving him that opportunity every year.

      It’s also either ignorant or disingenuous on your part to compare the Cavs “salary cap hell” to the Heat’s tax issues. The CBA changed the rules after the Big 3 signed up in Miami, with the explicit intent of forcing teams such as the Heat to break up. The only owner who has brazenly ignored the tax is Prokhorov, and even he wants his team under tax line for this season.

      Don’t re-write the past four years because you are blinded by the new cool-aid.

      • Gabbo - Jul 13, 2014 at 9:14 PM

        Cmon homer, if they were really trying to go all out and weren’t trying to save money, then why amnesty Miller and why not use the mid level exception? The Heat saved about 25 million plus a minimum of another 15 million next season. Riley chose to save 40 million bucks. Money talks!

  10. nard100 - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Thanks LeBron for the memories.

  11. dolphins4 - Jul 11, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    I hope the Heat have a plan B and win just like with they did with Lebron .And I also hope Cleveland don’t win anything with Lebron.

    • gofinsgoheatfloria - Jul 12, 2014 at 6:48 AM

      The Heat have Pat Riley, who is getting some flak, very unfairly IMHO, for what has happened, unless he had some way to stick a crowbar in Arison’s wallet that we haven’t been told about. Riley enjoys immense respect within the industry. He has a lot to do now, yes, but there aren’t many I’d rather have in his slot to do it.

  12. kavika6 - Jul 11, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    Wow. San Antonio not only got their revenge and thrashed the Heat in the Finals, it looks like they took down a so-called “dynasty” as well.

    • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 7:09 PM

      Who? San Antonio? They have a basketball team? Oh right, we almost forgot.

  13. courtjester1234 - Jul 11, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    I hope everyone can respect his choice of going back to Cleveland. I never had a problem with him leaving in the first place. You can’t make good\great players come to any city, and it wasn’t his fault none would go there. As a Philly fan I heartily feel for the fans in Cleveland. They deserve a championship. Folks need to be more forgiving to this guy. He doesn’t cause problems on his team or out in public…unlike MANY others. He lets his play do his talking. I was a little too young to remember Wilt in his prime. Seen both MJ and the Black Momba. This guy deserves to be talked about with the best.

  14. markv00 - Jul 11, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Spurs fan here. Ok, I come on here and try to be as gracious and respectful when our team is beat. But right now this is is awesome! Spurs got the revenge title and stopped a would be dynasty cold in its tracks sending LBJ back to where it started. All that talk of endless titles he’d bring to Miami, he left 2-2. Spurs bringing back most of the team and if they make it out of the tough west, they’ll take whoever comes out of the crazy east. Sweet if it’s Cleveland, another sweep with LBJ would be a great way to finish the Spurs Dynasty, at least with Duncan. OK, I’m done with the gloating. Respect LBJ’s game, but him bailing on teams when it gets tough is bad for legacy. MJ stayed, Kobe stayed, Duncan, Parker, Manu stayed. Good luck Miami. SA’s best to Cavs fans, hope he delivers for you guys, we got our so we’re good.

  15. JB (the original) - Jul 11, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    Hmmm, but will he change his number?

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