The King is finally returning home. After opting out of his contract with the Miami Heat earlier this summer, LeBron James remained rather silent about where he intended to play next season. However, word quickly spread after James announced his intention to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season, where he began his career in 2003.
LeBron’s decision to be a Cavalier once again brings a new set of questions for the best player in the NBA. First, will Cleveland embrace the return of LeBron or will fans resent him? There is no doubt a few fans are still bitter about James’ departure for Miami in 2010. The larger contingent of fans is surely excited. In order to make it right with all fans, LeBron needs to bring a championship to Cleveland, something he was unable to do during his first seven seasons with the team.
Along with his relationship with the fans, can LeBron’s relationship with the Cavaliers’ front office truly be repaired? Owner Daniel Gilbert had a lot of resentment for LeBron after he left for Miami. He made his feelings known by posting a letter to LeBron on Cleveland’s website. However, the letter was taken down from the Cavs’ website last week. Sources say James and Gilbert are now on good terms with the removal of the letter, signifying an attempt to smooth out any bad blood between the two.
LeBron’s plan to sign with Cleveland also means free agency can get back on track. Without any word on where James would sign, certain players and teams were stuck in limbo until a decision was made. One major example was Chris Bosh and his future plans. Bosh committed to Miami as long as James was planning on returning. There were rumors stating Bosh would sign with the Houston Rockets if LeBron left Miami. However, it now seems as though Bosh will be staying in Miami for another five years, earning $118 million.
The biggest question surrounding Cleveland is who the team can put around LeBron come next season. James will certainly be playing with point guard Kyrie Irving, a two-time All-Star and former first overall pick by the Cavs in the 2011 NBA Draft. However, Cleveland is also in the hunt for Kevin Love. Bringing Love to Cleveland could mean the exit of two other first overall picks made by the Cavs, namely their 2014 NBA Draft pick Andrew Wiggins as well as Anthony Bennett. James, Irving and Wiggins on the floor together would make one of the most athletic lineups in the NBA. However, for LeBron’s immediate future, Love’s current value far outweighs Wiggins’ potential.
In 2010, James received scrutiny for the special program hosted by ESPN when he publicized his move to the Heat. LeBron took a more quiet approach, this time he made the announcement while being interviewed by Sports Illustrated. James is travelling to Brazil for the final match of the World Cup and will avoid vast media attention until he returns.
Cleveland’s love for LeBron may not be as far reaching across the city anymore. However, that won’t hinder the Akron native’s focus on finally bringing a championship home.