You Can Go Home Again

First: If you haven't already, before you read my words, read LeBron James'.

If you've so much as turned on a broadcast or communication device today - and I have it on good authority that you have - you know by now that LeBron James, two-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat, is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, with whom he started his professional career, and Northeast Ohio, where he calls nearby Akron home. In doing so, he returns to a city that ceremoniously burned his jersey in effigy and an owner who wrote a venomous letter four years ago upon his departure. In the essay linked above, James' own words as told to Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, James talks through his departure and the reason for his return in a manner that I think is entirely admirable.

I've really never had any dog in the fight as it relates to LeBron James. His dominance on the court is undeniable, but my rooting interest in the NBA lies with the Sixers. Philly has never been in the running for either of his decisions, and despite always sharing the Eastern Conference with him, the team hasn't been a factor in any of his playoffs runs. But as I played armchair psychologist with the news surrounding his latest decision, I thought that he did return to Cleveland - and for the record, I didn't think he would - the overwhelming reason would be that it is home.

It's one thing to not live in the place you consider "home". While Greensboro is home now, and I haven't lived full time in Wilmington in a decade and a half, it will always be home. And while I'm fine living away, I don't know if I could live with home actively hating my being. To know that I could not walk my own streets would be maddening, and I would probably take whatever steps were available to me to change that fact. So while I don't know that the hate side played a huge role in LeBron's ultimate decision, I would imagine that quelling it played at least a part. Had LeBron chosen to return to Miami, no one could have faulted him for it - except those in Northeast Ohio. With the move he made, not even Miami, a team for whom his WORST result was the NBA finals, can rationally be mad.

I've got a thing for homecomings, and a soft spot for long-suffering sports cities. Best of luck to LeBron and the Cavaliers.