By now you’ve heard the news regarding LeBron James’ decision to return home to Cleveland and play for the Cavaliers again.
If you remember, almost immediately upon entry into the NBA Universe, LeBron James – dubbed “The Phenom” — was directly compared to The GOAT, Michael Jordan, and other members of basketball’s Mt. Rushmore; a big hurdle for an 18-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio. Despite a loss, he finished his first game with 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and just 2 turnovers in 43 minutes.
“The performance bested the 16-point debut of Michael Jordan, nearly equaled the 26-point debut of Magic Johnson and by far exceeded the expectations of those who saw his early preseason games. Playing in front of a sell-out crowd that booed him as soon as he was introduced, in an arena plunked in the middle of a cow pasture that makes the opening minutes of the “Wizard of Oz” look glamorous, James simply declined to be intimidated by the Kings, their fans or the enormous expectations that have been heaped upon him ever since his senior year of high school.”
Those words were written by InsideHoops.Com just after LeBron’s first game. It was as if the world watched a great dynasty fall the year before — when Michael Jordan retired — for good and needed guidance. Basketball fans’ resolution was televised: King James.
Looking back at the scrutiny that LeBron James has endured — from not winning soon enough, to taking his talents to South Beach – one thing all can agree on is win or lose, LeBron commands attention. He’s a modern-day trendsetter in a historic league known for innovation. Similar to Allen Iverson’s tattoos, Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s fur coat, LeBron’s shaking things up and doing only what he feels is right.
“James stepped on the court wearing the Cavaliers’ new wine and gold with white trim road uniform and sported his new custom-designed, black-and-white ‘Air Zoom Generation’ Nike basketball shoes. He wore a matching headband and a white rubber band with the inscription “King James” on his right wrist.”
That was, again, 2003. The day the NBA changed as we knew it. Now, there’s nowhere else for LeBron’s legacy to go, but up. Time will tell. After all, it’s the NBA: “Where Tomorrow Happens.”
“But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.
I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”