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Updated: July 14, 2014 10:28PM
LeBron James is going home.
No big television spectacle called “The Decision,’’ and no dancing around on a stage promising “Not one, not two, not three . . . ’’ Just a heart-felt first-person essay told to Sports Illustrated on SI.com on why he was returning to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio,’’ James told the website. “It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can.”
“I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.’’
And the response in Cleveland was immediate Friday afternoon, starting with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who publicly tried to humiliate James in a letter when he first left the franchise four years ago to make a run in Miami.
Time obviously heals wounds, as Gilbert tweeted out “Welcome Home @kingjames, I am excited for the fans and people of Cleveland and Ohio. No fans and people deserve a winner more than them … ‘’
While it’s hysteria in Cleveland, the magnitude of “Decision 2.0’’ could immediately be felt all around the NBA.
The Miami Heat, who James helped lead to four straight NBA Finals and back-to-back championships, are now obviously scrambling. Although owner Micky Arison took a much different approach than Gilbert.
“I am shocked & disappointed in today’s news. However I will never forget what Lebron brought us for 4 years. Thanks for memories @kingjames,’’ Arison said on his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Chris Bosh, who was one of the “Big Three,’’ along with James and Chicago native Dwyane Wade, was trying to figure out his future with a max contract on the table from Houston. The Rockets needed to clear bodies for that deal to happen, and after the James announcement reportedly started calling numerous teams in order to try and move assets.
Then there’s the Bulls.
The courting of free agent Carmelo Anthony has been a roller coaster ride the last few days, as The Daily News had him back to New York for the five-year, $129-million maximum on Wednesday, but as of Thursday night the decision was starting to weigh on Anthony, specifically the impression both Bulls center Joakim Noah made on him in his visit on July 1, as well as the idea of playing for coach Tom Thibodeau.
The problem remained the Knicks are unwilling to do a sign-and-trade with the Bulls for Anthony, basically telling their star that if he wants to leave for Chicago they won’t help make up the $54 million he would be leaving on the table.
Shortly after James’ homecoming was announced, Anthony reportedly made it known that his decision wasn’t coming Friday.
Maybe because his mind wasn’t made up, maybe he was hoping it would give the Bulls more time to clear financial space or maybe he realized it was James’ day.
“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” James said in the essay. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”