It was over a half-decade ago that LeBron James announced he was returning to The Land.
LeBron James, once hailed as the savior of basketball in the state of Ohio, crushed that city when he left for a more tantalizing prospect in Miami before the 2010-2011 season. While many Cleveland fans thought that they would never forgive him for what he did, the King’s return to the Cavaliers in 2014 rebuilt his reputation, all the while netting the Cavs a title in the process.
On this day six years ago, after four seasons and two championships with the Miami Heat, James announced that he was coming back to his hometown team, changing the face of the entire league when he did so.
The NBA was never the same after LeBron James returned to Cleveland
Even almost a decade after the fact, his initial decision to leave Cleveland opened some sore wounds across Northeast Ohio. Coming back, assembling a Big Three that featured the mercurial Kyrie Irving and the always reliable Kevin Love along the way, help stitch up some of those wounds.
In the four years he spent in Cleveland before bolting for LA, James led the Cavaliers to the finals in all four seasons. While they lost three times, all of them coming to a completely loaded Golden State Warriors teams, their comeback from a 3-1 deficit against a 73-9 Warriors squad stands as the greatest comeback in league history given the circumstances.
Even with his titles and MVPs in hand from his days in Miami, LeBron was still (somehow) considered a villain because he left a pile of flotsam in Cleveland for a buttoned-up doomsday machine in Miami. In combing back to Cleveland, however, LeBron finally won back the hearts of Cavaliers fans, got himself a third championship, and gave the much-maligned sports city their first title in decades. No matter what his career looks like, he’ll always be able to look back fondly on his second stint with the Cavaliers.