Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome home, LeBron!

"What a great time it is to be a sports fan in Northeast Ohio." — David Hudson, Roanoke, Va.

The dust has begun to settle after King James made his announcement about returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers on si.com. But the excitement around Cleveland and Northeast Ohio? That's going to be around for a while.

Suddenly, everything is looking superb for Cleveland.

Remember that Marvel Studios filmed significant parts of "The Avengers" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" in downtown Cleveland? Old news. Really old news. How about the city snagging the 2016 Republican Convention? Whatever. Johnny Manziel's extra-curricular activities away from the Browns? Meh.

LeBron James has inked a two-year deal to once again don a Cavaliers uniform. That's the Big News here; that's all that matters. Everything else pales in comparison.

To be upfront, I didn't see the Return coming. At least not this soon.

In the end, I think LeBron made the best decision possible — one that resonated with him as a basketball/business decision. Reading his classy and comprehensive SPORTS ILLUSTRATED essay — truly a love letter to Northeast Ohio ("It holds a special place in my heart," James told Lee Jenkins), you can tell James also made the decision from his heart.

Truthfully, I predicted James would stay with the Miami Heat for another two years, bring home another championship and then finish his career with the Cavs.

But when I started really looking at situation, it made sense for this being the best time for James' triumphant return to Cleveland.

There was no guarantee Chris Bosh would be back with the Heat.

At the time of the sequel to "The Decision," it appeared Bosh had a deal wrapped up with the Houston Rockets. And if Bosh wouldn't returning to Miami, why should James? Let's face it, the rest of the Heat's roster wasn't looking so promising — and there was no guarantee any of the Heat's supporting cast outside of the Big 3 would be coming back.

I'm no expert on pro basketball (although I do have my opinions) much less free agency, but to James the Cavs' situation must have appeared to be a wash compared to the Heat's. The Cavaliers have a new coach, which means James can be a significant influence on how they play ball. Rookie GM David Griffin made plenty of salary space hoping to entice LeBron and the Cavs have plenty of raw, young talent around which Griffin, the head coach and certainly James can develop.

So why not return to the Cavaliers now?

King James' return certainly will be a economic boom for the Cleveland area and Northeast Ohio. The bars and such near the Q will have more customers than they can handle when the wine and gold start playing b-ball.

The Q will be rockin' now that James has come a-knockin'. I can't imagine how loud the fans at Quicken Loans Arena will be when James is announced for his first game — or any this season, for that matter; the roar of the crowd truly will test the decibel meters.

Ticket sales already have gone through the roof. The latest area sports report indicates the Cavs have capped off ticket sales and that means getting walk-up tickets at the Q won't be the breeze they were during the King's four-year championship run with the Heat.

The Second Coming of LeBron has done more than made Cleve
land the talk of nationwide sports. Sure, that's great, but there's more to it than media coverage.

Cleveland has some mojo, more than I've seen in nearly a decade. There's a bit of swagger here — a "can-do attitude."

James is nothing but realistic in making winning a Cavs tradition.

"I'm not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We're not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I'm realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010," James said.

Does Cleveland want a championship? Without a doubt. So bad they can taste it.

Will the Cavs bring home a trophy anytime soon? As James reminded fans, not any time soon.

But that's not what's important. The King's triumphant return has given Cleveland so much needed confidence and a sense of hope and optimism.

The Cavs better invest in more chalk. The King is about to have his coronation.

Welcome home, LeBron.

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