If you've followed basketball in the slightest over the last few years, you know who LeBron James is. Heck, if you haven't been living under a rock for the last decade you know who LeBron is.
Self-branded as King James, the NBA's 2003 number one draft pick broke the hearts of his hometown fans when he ditched local team the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2010 in favour of the Miami Heat during his free agent period.
Following four seasons with the Heat, two subsequent championships and a soul-crushing defeat (seriously, those last two games were hard to watch) against the San Antonio Spurs this year, the publicity storm whipped up once again following the cessation of the season over whether free agents would be following their hearts or bank account potential. The lost 'threepeat' was the catalyst that led to huge speculation over the future of Miami's big three (that's Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and LBJ). Re-released into the free agent pool at the end of the 2014 season, James' two roads of destiny opened up in the form of a road home to the Cavs; the other back into Miami's open arm. Bosh has been courting the press recently over his choice between returning to the Houston Rockets or staying still, signing back with the Heat for US$118 million post LeBron's decision. Reportedly, the Chicago Bulls are also now dogging D-Wade.
LeBron made his decision public this morning New Zealand time (Friday 11th July US time) in an 'essay' published in Sports Illustrated. The four times over MVP cited his introspection on what really matters as the decision's logic; "My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now."
Awaiting LeBron's decision yesterday, dozens of fans and their cars hovered outside of the King's Akron, Ohio home, a stark contrast to the burnt b-ball jerseys and the booing of Cav fans back in 2010 when LeBron made his initial decision to switch to the Heat. Now it was bated breath and anticipation. After all, it was LeBron who took Cleveland to their first appearance in the NBA Finals back in 2007 (where they lost to the Spurs - same team that stole LeBron's desire for a 'threepeat' this year. Sting). Cleveland seems well poised to receive their hometown anti-hero back and leave the abandonment issues on the back burner in the hope of bringing home their first trophy in 2015.
LBJ knows the road ahead (shit, I'm sorry for the consistent metaphorical references to roads) will be a difficult one, and seems more than aware the jerseys can't be unburned: "In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home."