It would appear Dan Gilbert and the city of Cleveland learned something from the last time LeBron James made his return to the city after a departure. To be clear, all parties probably learned something over the last eight years, but the video the Cleveland Cavaliers put together showed some pretty great growth.
Figuring out the vibe to everything surrounding this game was almost impossible. On one hand, James won the city of Cleveland its first professional sports championship in more than half a century, and has worked incredibly hard to improve the city off the court. On the other, sports fans don’t think rationally all that often and you just never know how they might react.
There was a way the night should have gone, and Cleveland got things started the right way by giving James a big ovation when he was introduced:
The Cavaliers then continued the good vibes with a heartfelt tribute video. You can watch the full thing right here:
The Cavs’ LeBron tribute video pic.twitter.com/0mL5hXhnWu— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) November 22, 2018
It’s absolutely wild to see how much James has grown since he was drafted by Cleveland 16 years ago. That probably shouldn’t surprise me seeing as it’s been so long, but still. It’s been a true pleasure getting to watching him grow up before our eyes.
If you look at him through the prism of a childhood star, it’s remarkable how well he’s handled the limelight, something the video highlighted in showing off his charitable works in addition to his achievements on the court.
The video itself did not play until after the game started, and highlighted the entirety of James’ two stints with the Cavaliers organization.
During the timeout in which the tribute video played, James watched attentively and then acknowledged the whole crowd as he walked back on defense. He looked as if he was doing whatever he could to focus on the game.
Props to the Cavs for getting it right this time.