CLEVELAND - There is one thing more than a maximum contract that LeBron James just could not pass up, a chance to secure his legacy and a trip back home to resurrect the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team he left four years ago.
James announced on Sports Illustrated's website on Friday that he will be returning to the wine and gold. The article reads like an apology to Cleveland fans.
"My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now," James told Sports Illustrated reporter Lee Jenkins.
Dan Gilbert Tweeted a welcome to James moments after Sports Illustrated published his story.
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.....— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) July 11, 2014
He is expected to receive the maximum contract at just over $20 million a year.
"I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver," James said in the article.
The Decision 2.0 did not come with all the fanfare it did four years ago, when James told Jim Gray he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”
Cavaliers fans have agonized over social media on a daily basis wondering what LeBron would do and they got their answer after he met with Miami Heat President Pat Riley in Las Vegas earlier this week.
James also sent an Instagram photo when the story broke. Follow updates on LIVE BLOG: Courting LeBron
James had said all along he would not make a big deal out of his free-agent choice, but his decision set off a city desperate for its first championship of any kind since 1964 and Cavaliers fans are hoping the kid from Akron can deliver.
"My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio," he told SI.
Lebron comes back to a much different Cavaliers team than the one he left.
This version is filled with youth, promise and all-stars.
Kyrie Irving is a superstar in the league and James has always wanted to play with him. Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and number one overall picks Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins make the Cavaliers a team with the addition of LeBron a group that could be very successful for a long time.
LeBron is back and so is the hope Cavaliers fans had four years ago. With LeBron, anything is possible.
"I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up," James said.
James talked about what it meant growing up here and it was always on his mind to come home.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic said James never stopped giving back to Akron.
"We are thankful for his generosity and excited to continue partnering with him on projects that help our children and enrich our community. As good of a basketball player that he is, he is an even better person. I am thrilled that he has decided to continue his outstanding career in Cleveland, where he will be even more accessible to his Wheels for Educations kids and family.”