LeBron James has made his decision, and he’s coming home to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James officially announced his decision late on Thursday night, announcing a return to the team that drafted him.
LeBron announced through a Sports Illustrated article, explaining that his return was part of a plan he had in place his entire career.
“I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there,” LeBron said. “I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”
LeBron acknowledged that it would be a difficult road in Cleveland, and that the Cavaliers are not championship-ready the way the Heat were in 2010. But he said he was up for the challenge and happy to be back home.
“In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have,” he said. “I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”
Word of LeBron’s decision began to leak throughout the week, with many hints that he was planning to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Insider Chris Sheridan, who in 2010 was one of the first to report that LeBron was planning to join the Miami Heat, posted on Thursday that LeBron’s return to Cleveland was imminent.
“James met with Miami Heat president Pat Riley on Wednesday in Las Vegas to deliver the news, and Riley did his best to try to get James to reconsider, comparing the stability of the Heat organization to the relative instability of the Cavs, who have a meddling owner and have changed general managers and coaches several times in the past few years, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The meeting lasted about an hour, and James and his advisors then met for dinner. James’ stance did not change, according to the source, but no public pronouncements were made. An official announcement will eventually be made on www.lebronjames.com, as I first reported Tuesday. The news should become official before James leaves Saturday for the World Cup final in Brazil.”
Fans also began to build in excitement for the announcement. On late Thursday afternoon, crowds began to gather outside his home in Bath Township, Ohio, prompting police to come in for crowd control.
By late evening, several reporters began posting that LeBron James would announce his decision soon.
Source close to LeBron James’ agent Rich Paul has told Newsradio WTAM 1100 that his decision will be announced by 11:00 pm tonight.
— Nick Camino (@NickCaminoWTAM) July 10, 2014
But it wasn’t until Friday at noon that the official decision was announced.
With the decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James returns to the team that drafted him first overall in 2003. He led the team to one NBA Finals appearance — a 2007 sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.