Many Cleveland fans and media found little room in their hearts for bitterness and welcomed the prodigal son LeBron James back to the city online after he announced his return in an essay for Sports Illustrated.
You get the feeling that James jerseys will reemerge quickly from dark and dusty corners of attics and closets all over Cleveland.
Dan Gilbert, majority owner of the Cavaliers tweeted: My 8-year-old: “Daddy, does this mean I can finally wear my Lebron jersey, again?”...Yes it does, son. Yes it does!
The Plain Dealer already published an electronic version of Saturday’s front page, featuring an illustration of James beneath the word “Home.” The page includes a quote from the Sports Illustrated essay: “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.”
For many, the statement embodied good ol’ fashioned Midwest values. Browns quarterback Bryan Hoyer called the above quote the best part of James’ piece.
Terry Pluto praised James’ choice in his column for the Plain Dealer.
“LeBron James did the right thing,” Pluto wrote. “Now, he’s one of the greatest sports stories in Cleveland history. It’s one of the best stories of the last several years. The best basketball player in the world went to four consecutive NBA Finals in Miami. He won two titles. Yet, he picked Cleveland.”
Bud Shaw also weighed in for the Plain Dealer, writing that Cleveland should welcome back James: “So if LeBron James can bring relevance back to town, well, what’s a little forgiveness going to hurt? Face it. He won. The Cavs lost. And lost. And lost. And lost.”
References to Cleveland’s antics after James’ departure for Miami sprung up on social media amid the “welcome home!” messages.
Chris Manning urged his followers not to forget James’ prior betrayal: Cleveland fans: with LeBron going #BackToCleveland remember the way he left. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep-9sSKa0RA&feature=kp … #Quitness
Love him or hate him, James once again has shouldered the hopes of a city looking for something to cheer about.