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LeBron James in his own words on why he chose Cleveland

Jul 11, 2014, 12:54 PM EDT

LeBron James handled his decision much, much better this time around.

Kept his head down, and while the storm swirled around him he didn’t talk. A lot of other people did, he didn’t. Then when it came time to make his decision, there was no television show, just an essay in Sports Illustrated co-authored with the brilliant Lee Jenkins on why this was a good idea. No Jim Gray, no questions. Just LeBron getting to say what he wanted how he wanted.

[ MORE: Who else do Cavs sign to surround LeBron? ]

You should read the entire thing. But to do it some justice, here are some excerpts of what LeBron said and why he made his decision.

Remember when I was sitting up there at the Boys & Girls Club in 2010? I was thinking, This is really tough. I could feel it. I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating. If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things differently, but I’d still have left. Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today….

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.

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…

But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. 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. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

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

From LeBron’s Instagram page.

103 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. balsagna - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Ready to eat crow PBT? Been negative nancy about even the PROSPECT of this happening. Enjoying at you. You know as much as any of us do about whats going to happen.

    • handsomerob86 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      Lol, they have been defending his decision to go Miami for so long, they couldn’t believe it could happen.

      I don’t care about PBT though, I am happy cause James just made the NBA a better place. He did the right thing (and the smart one IMO). Now he needs to truly cement his legacy by winning in Cleveland. Were he should have been all along.

      I also think Lebron realized neither Bosh nor Wade would have done what he did to come to Cleveland (Wade would have never left Miami for there). Good job Lebron, maybe the kid we used to like isn’t gone afterall.

      • miamboy - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        USED TO LIKE?THAT SHOWS WHAT KINDA FANS YOU ALL ARE! I’m from Miami and watched every game that he’s played in! and i’ll bet no one here burn’s his jersey like you so called fans in Cleveland did……Good luck LBJ!

      • handsomerob86 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:56 PM

        I am Magic fan, not a Lebron fan. I used to like Lebron until the decision cause he was the anti-superstar (i.e. he shared the ball and such). But I never say anywhere that I am a Cavs fan. Trust me, no one ejoyed it more than me when the Magic outed Lebrons Cav’s in 2009 to get to the finals (despite a historic effort from Lebron).

    • aldog83 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      I am more of a Hockey and NFL fan.


      If the words Lebron is quoted on above are true….

      I’m a Lebron Fan (im actually Laker Fan) and wish him the best.

      I hope that Lebron and Manziel can give some excitement to the people in Cleveland!

      Many people everywhere are struggling financially and working hard for little or no money.

      Sports help put a smile on our face for a little while.

      Good Luck Cleveland! Wish the best for ya!

      From an LA guy.

  2. finsfan71 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    A good run but as they say, “All good things…”

    • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      The Heat are not done. They have a ton of money to burn now.

      • finsfan71 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        Anti I’m not suggesting the Heat just got swallowed up by a black hole but if they’re a finals team next year I’ll buy rancid deli meat from Richie the deli meat pusher (cantonbound13) for an entire year.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        In the East… look around now… what do you see?

        It’s there for the taking. If CLE doesn’t make any more moves and if CHI doesn’t land Melo, who would be favored? The Pacers? And people thought the East was “wide open” last year….

      • bball242322 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        Heat are done…

      • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:50 PM

        Dwyane Wade is about to go HAM on that a– like it’s Gabrielle Union.

      • handsomerob86 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        You can stop defending the Heat now Anti, the bandwagon moved on to Cleveland.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        I’m still invested in the notion that Dwyane Wade is not “done” and I’ve been arguing for quite a while that he’d still put up great numbers if he wasn’t playing with James.

        It will happen.

      • handsomerob86 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        Sure for 40 games before he gets injured from too much PT. Heat are done.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        Miami just became major players in the FA market. Don’t write off Riley just yet.

      • handsomerob86 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        No one can replace Lebron, they could get Ariza, Gasol, and Isaiah Thomas. But that is a downgrade on every front (prob a playoff team in east, but still a downgrade).

      • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Melo, Pau Gasol & Wade…

      • handsomerob86 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        Come on, Melo ain’t going to Miami, hes going to the Knicks or Bulls. Even if he did, hes a downgrade from Lebron, and Pau is a downgrade from Bosh. And Wade will probably be a downgrade from himself with increase PT next year. That team gets to the second round, maybe even conference finals, but not past Lebron.

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

        Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re wrong. There are still a lot of things that are going to happen in the next few days, so let’s revisit this when the dust settles.

      • jkirby317 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:06 PM


      • daddyghi - Jul 12, 2014 at 1:24 AM

        good luck with Mr. shaky knees!

      • antistratfordian - Jul 12, 2014 at 1:31 AM

        In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.

      • daddyghi - Jul 12, 2014 at 1:35 AM

        then your Miami Heat are screwed!

      • antistratfordian - Jul 12, 2014 at 1:41 AM

        My team is Team LeBron. Has been for over a decade.

  3. dubblelznhell - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    Yessssss! Maybe he’ll throw up some more chalk like he used to. This is like a guy leaving his girl for someone better looking, only to miss her after a bit and come back to her

    • fanofthegame79 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      I really hope he does – I liked the chalk dust toss.

  4. bankai78 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    Wow, hero to villian to Hero again. I thought that only happened in Wrestling.

  5. dubblelznhell - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Btw, I’m a raptor fan but I also appreciate great players.

  6. readysethike - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    but how much did he sign for? and why is he discriminating against southeast Ohio?

    • mazblast - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      I’m not sure the money was an issue for him, but I’m reasonably sure it’s the maximum.

      As for southeast Ohio, I have nothing against it (living in the SW corner), but it’s the least populated part of the state. Lots of beautiful scenery, not too many people. No one is disrespecting the few people there, but it’s not at the front of anyone’s mind elsewhere.

  7. remyje - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    but but his wife’s countdown means nothing… but but him opting out early means nothing… you are all cornballs in my book

  8. abqpacker - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    I have no connection to Cleveland, but I still love this for the reasons he gave.

  9. loubearkane - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Riots in South Beach @7PM

    Everyone will get there @ 8 leave by 8:20

    • dziner305 - Jul 11, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      @Loubearkane…Wow…you should be ashamed of yourself! It will only take those people and fans in South Beach 20 minutes to teach someone how to be a king by winning RINGS, while it took a whole State 7 years + + many decades to teach their statemen how to be “Losers”, ” Haters”, “Jersey Burners”, etc… I would rather be in SoBe, plus there would be Clads of beautiful models around. Sounds enticing now !

  10. bronx77 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    At the beginning of free agency I thought it was a 5 percent chance he was coming back. This is insane. Wade shouldn’t have opted out. That just shows Lebron really didn’t know what he wanted to do. Bosh makes the rockets an interesting team.

  11. scratchnsniffnblog - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Never understood the LeBron hate. Except for maybe jilted Cavs fans. But now he’s done the one thing he could to make up it up to them for his prior P.R. misstep. We would all have done well to make such emotional progress by the time we were 30.

    I liked him before he came to the Heat, and this move does nothing to diminish that. I’ll cheer for him in Cleveland, but still hope the Cavs lose to my Hornets and Heat (don’t equate cheering with being realistic about their chances).

    As for the Heat, it’s easy to crap on the casual fans. But we had the Mourning teams, the early Wade years with a championship, and four straight finals including two more championships with James. Sure there were a few lean years, but overall, the team bounces back well and is worthy of fan support.

    • daddyb1gdrawz - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      For what it is worth the Heat still has Pat Riley and a lot of cap room. Sure they can make a strong push for Bosh. Unless Miami does a sign and trade with Cleveland they do not have any draft picks until 2020 so sucking for the chance of getting a lottery pick means nothing.

  12. phinagain - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    can’t believe he would go back to play for such a dysfunctional organization. How can you forgive an owner with that immature plantation-owner mentality? I guess his hometown means more to him. Thanks for the trophies and the memories LeBron. Cleveland’s going to be an uphill battle, though – if Miami’s bench last year was bad, what does Cleveland have?

    • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      Read the essay again. Cities like Cleveland and Detroit, et al need more good people to stay.

  13. newyorkball82 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Shabazz Napier just got a little less happy to come to Miami.

    • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      Ha. A guy like him? Nah… he’s thinking, “more shots for me.”

    • patfic5 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      More food for me!- Napier

  14. coffeeblack95616 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Well, so much for the “not three, not four, not five…” stupidity.
    I think LeBron today would cringe looking back at his younger self for so much self-praise.
    This makes sense as he had to bail on Miami as they were done and he needs to chase rings. This is also why he stayed in the East. And he also looks better playing for only two teams instead of going to a third team in chasing pre-made championship teams.

    • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      well at least he was right about “not one”…

      I like how he set his goal for Cleveland at one tho. That seems reasonable. He’s older now. More mature.

    • patsmiley - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      yea because a team of Kyrie, Bennet, Waiters, and Wiggins is championship caliber. This move was not about chasing rings. Miami still has a shot at the Eastern Conference, but it’s looking like a Spurs repeat anyways. No way the Cavs can even compete with the Spurs

  15. 00maltliquor - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    Erik Spolestra is about to get exSPOsed as a coach next year.

    • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:34 PM

      He was solid before James arrived in Miami.

      • 00maltliquor - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        Are you taking your talents to Ohio?

      • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        My talents are going to stay right here.

      • 00maltliquor - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        Miami Heat?

      • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        No, here on PBT… with you.

      • 00maltliquor - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:24 PM


        Are you gonna burn your #6 James jersey/shirsey (sleeved shirtjersey)?

      • antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        Nah, you know all my exes have a special place in my heart.

    • spthegr8 - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      He is following LBJ like a heat seeking missile!!! Wherever he goes….Anti won’t be to far behind!!!

    • dziner305 - Jul 11, 2014 at 6:45 PM

      You have the same disease as Donald Sterling. Spo made the playoff at least 80% of his career. Since LBJ left that dysfunctional place, what was their name, “crappy-lottery” team with almost a handful of coaches’change. C’on man…get a grip!

      • 00maltliquor - Jul 11, 2014 at 8:13 PM

        Are you on drugs?

  16. edavidberg - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    I’m a LeBron fan. It happened in the 2013 Finals but this just cemented it. If the Bulls don’t win I hope the title goes to Cleveland.

  17. floreskins - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    This was a very well penned essay by Lebron’s publicist.

  18. Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    And you “I’m a LeBron fan first and foremost” types are the biggest frauds going. Even worse than the bandwagoners who spent the past 4 years using Google to look up team facts and old players.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 11, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      Guys who are ALWAYS wrong like you don’t need facts. Bottom line is the Knicks suck and will continue to suck for a very long time.

  19. antistratfordian - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    The biggest loser here is Brian Windhorst… he was supposed to be the LeBron go to guy and Lee Jenkins gets the story.

  20. coffeeblack95616 - Jul 11, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Lol, the stupidity of rabid sports’ fans is evident through the pathetically bad grammar and spelling, and reflected by the idiocy of “repping your team”, as if buying tickets and clothing to support millionaires playing a game is somehow a good personal quality.
    Sports are nothing more than entertainment. To make it more than a pleasant distraction is to make it clear that one has very little going on in one’s personal life.

  21. bbk1000 - Jul 12, 2014 at 6:40 AM

    Now we have to listen to ESPN playing that mind-numbingly bad coming home song throughout next season…..

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