Opinion The return of LeBron James means everything to Cleveland

2013 NBA Champion for the Miami Heat and Akron, Ohio native LeBron James stands on the sidelines at the Wisconsin football game Sept. 28 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 31-24.Credit: Lantern file photoI will never forget where I was four years ago, when LeBron James broke the collective hearts in Cleveland by announcing his decision to join the Miami Heat.I sat in a Florida hotel lobby as the “King” made his announcement to take his talents to South Beach, and the lobby let out a collective roar. I sank in my chair knowing that the chances of a championship happening in Cleveland were, once again, dashed.Flash forward to today — I sat in my bedroom. Not my school bedroom but my bedroom back home. The bedroom in which I grew up, and I heard the news that James was returning home.It felt surreal.I ran downstairs to make sure it wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t, and I couldn’t be happier for fellow Cleveland fans and for the King himself.Nothing beats coming home. No matter how far away you are, nothing is better. My favorite place in the world is, and always will be, Columbus, Ohio. However, nothing is better than making the two hour drive up I-71 to come home to Brunswick, Ohio, which is located just 30 minutes south of downtown Cleveland, the place where I have always called home.The same seems to stand true for James. In a letter written to “Sports Illustrated,” James said, “I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there.”Words can’t describe how much those words mean to Clevelanders. No one chooses us. No one seems to want to play in Cleveland. But now, the best player in the world chose us. If you are not from Cleveland, you can’t understand, and we don’t expect you to.Cleveland has endured The Drive, The Shot, The Fumble and even The Decision — but now, we have The Return. We have something to give us hope — something we haven’t had in a long time.I wrote two months ago that the month of May could prove to be the turning point for Cleveland sports, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Today is the day.The drafting of Johnny Manziel to the Browns was great and brought some excitement, but nothing compares to this. The Cavaliers winning the draft lottery and ultimately selecting Andrew Wiggins was fun, but again, doesn’t compare.James is an Ohio guy. Manziel and Wiggins, while great players in their own right, are not from here. They don’t know our desperation for a winner. James does, and his return to a city with a 50-year title drought means more than words can describe.Let me be clear: Just because James is back in Cleveland still doesn’t guarantee us a championship, but it doesn’t have to. While we want a title, to see James likely finish his career with his hometown team means a lot.So as I, a 21-year old man, sat in the house I grew up, watching the news on James unfold, I admit tears came into my eyes because nothing has ever meant this much to a generation of Cleveland sports fans.Welcome home, LeBron. We are excited to see you back in the wine and gold.

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