More than 24,000 fans gave LeBron James a warm welcome home Friday, when he held his first news conference since signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years in Miami and assured the people of northeastern Ohio that "I don't plan on going nowhere."
The 29-year-old James, a four-time NBA MVP, held the event at the University of Akron's InfoCision Stadium in conjunction with his charitable foundation's annual "I Promise" event for area children.
After leading the Heat to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and two titles, he rejoined the Cavaliers for two years and $41 million, although he has an option to opt out of his contract after the first season.
Why should the fans believe he's returned home for good? "I don't have the engery for it," James said of another move.
James also said he had an epiphany about returning home.
“It just hit me,” he said. “Sometimes you just have a feeling. You realize what's going on and what's happening.”
James has said in the past that he regrets the way he departed for Miami, with an hourlong televised show that ended with the words, "I'm taking my talents to South Beach." He reiterated Friday that he understands his place in society.
"I understand I'm a role model," he said. "I understand to these kids I'm more than a role model. I'm a superhero to them. I'm a father to them. I'm a brother to them, whatever the case they want me to be on that particular day.
"To know you can inspire so many people from the youth to I heard I got a grandma's club with 200-plus members. To know you can do things for people, give them hope, give them inspiration. It means a lot to me."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times