Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Finally, a King for Cleveland

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Finally, a King for Cleveland

Article excerpt

On the way from home and back LeBron James had made so many missteps, comments that have clung to him no matter how fast or high he flew, partings that broke the heart of an already suffering city.

But in the end Sunday, when the final seconds ticked off the clock at Oracle Arena, as James celebrated he finally broke down, tears of joy and exhaustion and satisfaction flowing freely. And that was just right.

As the tears fell, they wiped away the sting of his ill-advised television drama and the decision to take his talents to South Beach, and they rang truer than his proclamation nearly two years ago of, "I'm coming home."

The Chosen One, the child of Akron who raised the hopes of northeast Ohio for years before leaving for the glamour of a ready- to-win group of stars in Miami, James returned to Cleveland and after two years of microscopically dissected stumbles and speed bumps, he delivered what his potential had promised so long ago. A 52-year championship drought in Cleveland, a drought that he was aware of growing up playing basketball and football, came to an end Sunday, and the tears he cried were not just his, but belong to the entire region.

"Just knowing what our city has been through, northeast Ohio has been through, as far as our sports and everything for the last 50- plus years," James said after the game. "You could look back to the Earnest Byner fumble, Elway going 99 yards, to Jose Mesa not being able to close out in the bottom of the ninth, to the Cavs went to the finals -- I was on that team -- in 2007, us getting swept, and then last year us losing 4-2. And so many more stories.

"And our fans, they ride or die, no matter what's been going on, no matter the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs and so on, and all other sports teams. They continue to support us. And for us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them."

James did it in historic fashion, guiding the Cavaliers to a Game 7 win, becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a three- games-to-one deficit in the Finals. He poured in 41 points in Game 5, then repeated that number in Game 6. Finally, in Game 7, he piled up a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists -- not to mention a monstrous block of an Andre Iguodala fast break that may have saved the game in the final minutes.

But it wasn't just the points or defense or rebounding that really made the difference. In his return there were so many critics and questions, maybe some deserved as he played point forward on the floor and seemed to also take a leadership role in forming the team around him. He addressed the critics in an Instagram post.

He wrote, "They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates too much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc. …

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