None of that vitriol went away as James won two titles with Miami and became the undisputed best player in the game.
But now he’s back, and with James and rookie Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, Cleveland has arguably sports’ two most-talked-about athletes. The spotlight shines bright on Northeast Ohio, where, as James said in his announcement through Sports Illustrated, “nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.”
The politician in James understands the need to coax the community back to embracing him, but from the looks of the spontaneous public celebrations throughout Cleveland, he needn’t have bothered.
He’s been welcomed back with open arms.
With James on the court, the Cavaliers instantly become a favorite in the Eastern Conference. Surrounding James is all-star Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett and rookie Andrew Wiggins. All four of them No. 1 overall draft picks, and none of them has reached their full potential.
The unknown variable is the team’s front office. First-year general manager David Griffin will have to fill out the Cavaliers’ roster with the kind of proven role-players that won James his two titles in Miami. On the sidelines, rookie head coach David Blatt has the benefit of James to help tutor his promising talent, but little room for error if the team unexpectedly flirts with mediocrity.