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Updated: August 12, 2014 6:37AM
LeBron James back with the Cleveland Cavaliers?
The concept doesn’t exactly boggle the mind, but it rattles it.
And yet, why shouldn’t King James return to the place he once scorned?
All that nasty stuff Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said and wrote about James after “The Decision’’ lunacy of four years ago — hey, just heat of the moment, right?
Gilbert’s letter to Cavaliers fans, after James took 60 minutes of prime TV time to say he was going to South Beach, claimed James was a “coward’’ and would take Cleveland’s losing ways with him and “will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.’’
Gilbert was talking about the Cavs never having won an NBA title, but also, subliminally, about Cleveland’s horrendous sporting history: the NFL Browns never having played in a Super Bowl, the baseball Indians having not won a World Series since 1948, the Cuyahoga River catching on fire. (Not good for fishing, huh?)
At any rate, there was a bit of tit-for-tat, with James sending out a tweet in January 2013 — right after the Cavs lost to the Lakers 112-57, the most lopsided clobbering in the NBA in 40 years—that said: “Karma is a b----. Gets you every time. It’s not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!’’
The King, himself, sees a lot. According to media reports, he sees possibilities and redemption back in Cleveland.
In fact, veteran NBA insider Chris Sheridan said on radio Thursday morning, “He’s 100 percent coming back to Cleveland. Yeah, the decision has already been made.’’
The highly-respected Sheridan replied, “This is not my first rodeo, I’m very, very confident in my story.”
Well, OK, we’ll go with that for now as James toys with our minds and keeps the entire NBA on edge — and in the national news, thank you very much.
Things are so different now. The ashes of burned LBJ Nikes and Cavs jerseys and the frighteningly Biblical and massive “We Are All Witnesses’’ banners have long since vanished. Gilbert has taken down his rant from the Internet.
After going to four Finals and winning two championships in the four years he was with the Heat, James has proved his doubters wrong. But he still didn’t prove much to those back in his home state of Ohio. They might have forgiven him for turning his back on them, but he has not served his penance. If he cares.
He’s from Akron, just down the road from Cleveland. And he has always spoken about his buddies there, about his St. Vincent-St. Mary teammates, about his roots, about bro-hood.
“I always wanted brothers around because I was an only child,’’ he told ESPN’s Chris Broussard last year. “And when I got Sion, Dru, Willie, and Rome [his high school teammates], I was like, ‘This is what I want.’ ’’
Teammates are brothers. But so are citizens, especially when they watched you grow, always a phenomenal athlete who became a one of a kind. Indeed, at the NBA predraft camp in 2003, when he was straight out of high school, LeBron ripped off a 44-inch vertical. And he has estimated he can get about a foot higher when he leaps off of one leg. Which is why he jumped over Bulls dinky guard John Lucas III for a dunk a couple years ago.
James seems to have a strong sense of decency, along with the mammoth ego needed to have “Chosen 1’’ tatted across his back and the will to take on every defense ever invented to stop one man.
Thus, returning to his homeland, with Kyrie Irving at guard and fresh Andrew Wiggins and who knows who else joining the Cavs, could be a fine new chapter in the Book of James. The prodigal son comes back. The “Generous 1’’ shares with his people. Cleveland rises from its shame and bitterness and failure.
Why, even “Johnny Football’’ Manziel is there to help the beleaguered town become hip and cool. Well, sort of. Let’s not go crazy here.
LeBron has “330’’ tattooed in big numerals on his right forearm. That’s not how much he weighs (265 pounds of muscle); that’s Akron’s area code, a code that runs into the Cleveland city limits.
I don’t think James has it inked there in case he gets lost. I think — and it’s looking official — that the tat is there because he has to go home to 330 to prove he’s real.
To prove he’s got a heart.