07/12/14 by Rennie Detore
LeBron James jilted legions of Cleveland Cavaliers fans years ago with his decision to pick up and leave for the bright lights, big city and better NBA Championship odds in Miami, alongside Dwayne Wade and free agent acquisition Chris Bosch.
The idea of James leaving his hometown to play with the Heat wasn't quite the knife in the back moment as much as it was the way James delivered the news, as part of a cable television special that made it seem more like a Presidential State of the Union Address then a basketball player becoming a free agent and signing with another team.
James' "decision" is now ancient history. He's won championships in Miami and is the face of the National Basketball Association. But even though he's decided to return home, two questions loom large: Is this a pity return and are the Cavs' fans ready to welcome back "The King" to his court with open arms.
Chances are the latter will happen relatively seamlessly and with great excitement and anticipation. After James left, the Cavaliers actually pieced together more than just an average team, quite reputable in fact, and James' return might be the final piece to putting Cleveland back on the map as a sports town with real championship pedigree, rather than the butt of plenty of jokes as far as towns that can't muster up a winning franchise in any league.
Plenty of NBA free agents and potential draft picks have perked up with the news of James jettisoning back to Cleveland and that city now being a realistic landing spot to win titles and play with arguably one of the best players in league history.
Fickle fans that jeered and panned James for all his pomp and circumstance years prior before leaving for Miami are the same ones that openly took to social media to revel in the return of their hometown hero. Winning, or the idea of it, soothes sports wounds rather quickly, and if the Cavaliers start the season rolling along and seem poised for a playoff run, fans won't bother recalling how James left but rather focusing on the fact that he's returned the hero.
Local and major news outlets have had a field day showcasing Cleveland fans of all ages donning the No. 23 James' jerseys in public the moment the news of him returning became public. In fact, just the news of James potentially returning had a positive effect on ticket sales to the tune of 1 million dollars worth sold within no time.
The Cavaliers aren't going to raise ticket prices this year, which is an admirable move for a franchise that has new life, a sense of purpose and its hometown boy back in the fold. James is saying all the right things above his encore performance in Cleveland and isn't treating this stint as a pity party for the city since he's been gone.
James became an elite player in Miami, and he's got the championship hardware to prove it. As much as fans moaned and complained about James leaving for the Heat, the move almost was a necessity to end up where he is today.
Back in Cleveland to help his hometown team take care of business he started more than a decade ago.
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