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Dan Gilbert’s letter, the boos of the Cleveland fans, and the burned jerseys are all in the past: after four seasons in Miami–including four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and two championships–LeBron James is headed back to Cleveland. Eschewing “The Decision 2.0,” James revealed his impending return to Ohio in an exclusive sit-down with Sports Illustrated‘s Lee Jenkins because he wanted an opportunity to explain himself uninterrupted. In the piece, James reflects on the initial move to Miami in 2010, the subsequent four seasons, and why he felt that the time was right to rejoin the Cavs, stating “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.”
You can check out a brief excerpt from the essay below while James’s thoughts can be read over at SI in their entirety.
When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. 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.
I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.