Welcome home, LeBron.
All is forgiven. Let the championship season start now.
The return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers, four years after "The Decision" that left stunned and jilted hometown fans in the wake of his departure for the Miami Heat, is great news for the Cavaliers, great news for Cleveland and great news for Northeastern Ohio. Coming on the heels of the Republicans' decision to hold their national convention in Cleveland in 2016, it's another affirmation of the comeback of a region that has fought hard after being on the ropes for a long time.
James, who grew up in Akron and got his first taste of fame as a basketball star at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, apparently remains a hometown boy at heart. While his four seasons in Miami were good for him personally and professionally -- "I was seeking championships, and we won two," he told Sports Illustrated -- the call of Northeastern Ohio eventually won out.
"My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now," he said. "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 Cavaliers paved the way for his return -- a possibility that would have been virtually unthinkable not too long ago -- by creating the salary cap space for the maximum contract he has sought, and securing a strong supporting cast that ought to enable him to get the job done. They drafted Andrew Wiggins -- widely regarded as one of the best prospects since James himself -- with the first overall pick in last month's draft. They locked All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving into a five-year, $90 million contract. Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love has been a target as well; he said Friday he's "intrigued" at the thought of joining James in Cleveland long-term. Almost any trade for Love would be a key move in creating the team James can lead to a championship.
Sports fans can be rabidly loyal, but ferociously fickle, too. Hometown favorites can find themselves burned in effigy when fans feel scorned -- which was exactly the case with LeBron James when he turned his back on Cleveland for sunny Miami four years ago. We don't know how fans of the Heat feel about him now -- and frankly, we don't care -- but we're fairly confident the Second Coming of the King will be a cause for jubilation in Cleveland.
LeBron is back, and so is the prospect for a long-awaited championship for Cleveland.
"For me," he said recently, "I just want to win. And that's all that matters to me."
That's all that matters to us, too, LeBron. Get the job done.