CLEVELAND — If LeBron James was going to win another NBA title, heal broken hearts and continue building his legacy, he knew there was only one place to go.
To Ohio. Home.
Four years after he left for Miami, a widely criticized departure that damaged his image and crushed a long-suffering city's championship hopes, James is coming back to play for the Cavaliers to try and end Cleveland's half-century title drought. He's returning to his basketball roots, to the people who know him best, to make good on a promise.
James made the announcement Friday with a powerful essay written for Sports Illustrated. His decision ended two weeks of speculation with the entire league waiting on his move.
When he finally made it, Cleveland was his choice over re-signing with the Heat.
"I looked at other teams, but I wasn't going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland," he said to SI. "The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy."
James had not yet signed a contract, but he made it clear he will wear a Cavaliers jersey next season.
"When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission," James said in the SI first-person story. "I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn't had that feeling in a long, long, long time. 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 talented kid from Akron, now a homecoming king.
Cleveland is thrilled to have him back. James is the league's best all-around player, a four-time MVP who was dubbed "The Chosen One" as a can't-miss high school star who learned the game on the playgrounds of Akron, about 40 miles from Cleveland. At 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, he can score from all over and is one of the game's best passers and defenders.