LeBron James will return home to Cleveland for the first time since deciding to leave the Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency on November 21, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
James, a native of Akron, Ohio, was drafted by his hometown-adjacent Cavaliers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. He spent the first seven years of his career in Cleveland before deciding to take his talents to South Beach Miami, Florida.
In his first game back in Cleveland with the Miami Heat, James was welcomed with thunderous boos despite taking the Cavaliers to their first-ever NBA Finals in 2007.
Although losing arguably the greatest player alive probably doesn’t hurt any less the second time around, there’s reason to be optimistic about the reception James will get when November arrives.
For starters, James led the Cavaliers to not only their first-ever NBA championship in franchise history, but the first championship in the city of Cleveland in 52 years in 2016, when the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals — the first team ever to do so — to upset the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.
He also has one of the greatest plays in the history of Cleveland sports, if not the greatest.
Add that to the charitable work he has done in Ohio, including a brand new public school in Akron built and funded in association with the his foundation helped create, and there’s never been a harder time to be anti-LeBron in Cleveland. Even Dan Gilbert is a LeBron fan now.
There will undoubtedly be a handful of scattered boos from the crowd, but they will almost certainly be drowned out by the roaring standing ovation James will get from those in attendances at the Quicken Loans Arena on November 21, and there’s no one that deserves it more.
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