The Miami experiment is over: LeBron James will play for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. The NBA star opted out of his contract with the Heat after spending four seasons in Miami, where he won two championships.
James, 29, played for Cleveland for seven seasons before leaving the town, and his home state of Ohio, for Miami. Speculation about his next move heated up after James and the Heat were trounced in the NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs.
Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: ‘I’m Coming Home’
The news is now confirmed by Sports Illustrated, which has a feature on James, running under the headline “I’m Coming Home.”
In the piece, James explains his ties to Ohio:
“Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. 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.”
He later adds:
“When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. 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.”
The headline on Cleveland’s Plain Dealer reads: “Return of the King.”
Fans in Cleveland have been hanging around James’ house in Ohio, hoping to celebrate the news of his return, the newspaper reports. One young fan had no doubts.
“Akron is his home,” said 8-year-old Cameron Hinkley. “He’s been in Miami a long time.”