AKRON (92.3 The Fan) — LeBron James is home.
It appears he is here to stay.
Addressing the local media for the first time since returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Akron product eased any concerns over the length of his two-year contract, and put all other speculation to bed.
“At the end of the day, I’m a business man as well,” James said of his short-term contract – a two-year deal with an opt-out after one season. “I don’t plan on going anywhere. I don’t have the energy to [leave] again.”
James, along with nearly 25,000 of his closest friends, took part in the LeBron James Family Foundation I PROMISE Family Reunion and Welcome Home LeBron Celebration at InfoCision Stadium on Friday night in Akron, Ohio – a celebration in honor of the King’s return to Northeast Ohio.
“This is amazing. I want to thank everyone for being here,” James said as he addressed the crowd in Akron.
LeBron captivated the masses, later leading the fans in O-H-I-O chants.
“Dammit, I love ya’ll. I swear I missed ya’ll,” James added with a giant smile.
“I love you. I’m back,” he concluded before dropping the mic and walking off stage, signifying the start of a fireworks show at the stadium.
However, earlier in the evening, LeBron was quick to point out the day was not just about him.
“Today is not about me… it’s not about Akron. It’s about these kids,” James said. “That’s what it’s all about, honestly. I brought a lot of people here because a lot of people want to see me and whatever frame I’m in right now. But it’s more about these kids.
“This is my favorite day of the year because these kids will benefit from everything that I’ve accomplished in my career thus far.”
James’ relationship with Northeast Ohio is strong.
However, as LeBron pointed out in the essay wrote for Sports Illustrated – illustrating the reasons for his return to Cleveland – even he did not realize how deeply rooted that connection was until recently.
“It just hit me,” James said. “Sometimes you just have a feeling. Sometimes you just kind of realize what’s going on, what’s happening. It just hit me. That’s why I was able to, through the letter, speak through the heart.
“It came off pretty well, I guess,” he added with a sly smile. “That’s what they say.”
Leading up to his decision, there was a great deal of speculation surrounding James’ thought process.
Would he stay with the Miami Heat, a franchise he won two titles with? Would he return home? Could he return home?
And when did his decision finally become clear?
“I considered returning home after I got back from my vacation, which were not many days [before] I decided to actually do it,” James said. “I let my agent, Rich Paul, kind of handle everything as far as the business, because I wanted to try to kind of get away from the game. I promised my family I would take them on vacation and kind of get away from my phone and not mess with it too much, because I knew it was going to happen.
“Once I got to Vegas for my basketball camp, I started to narrow down the teams. That’s when I was able to sit with my agent and talk about the pros and cons of each team, and we kind of talked and narrowed it down. I kind of made my decision over those 48 hours – my last 48 hours in Vegas.”
With those questions now behind him, the biggest question of them all has emerged: Can LeBron bring a championship back to the city of Cleveland?
“On the court that’s what means the most to me,” James said. “It’s my drive. It’s my only drive. I understand it’s going to be a process. It’s a different situation than when I left here. The team I left, we had been through the grind, we had been through the struggles. We never got to the mountain top, but we had been through so much. This is different. So many great pieces on the team but none of the guys besides Andy has been in pressure games in the NBA.
“There’s not many guys on this roster besides myself, Andy, JJ and Mike Miller that have done great things. I’m going to have to teach and lead and inspire.”
“My number one goal is to win a championship here,” James added. “I think it would be the greatest achievement in my life, as far as on the court. I’ve been back in the lab. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
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