February 27, 2024

It’s official.

LeBron James will be a Los Angeles Laker.

When LeBron left Cleveland in 2010, I watched “The Decision” from a hotel in Virginia Beach as my family was on vacation there. I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach as the program began, remembering that both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would be members of the Miami Heat that year.

When LeBron decided to leave Cleveland in the summer of 2010, the family vacation was stained, as were the Cavs and the city as a whole. I was 11 years old then.

LeBron’s return to Cleveland was honestly one of the happiest days of my life. It was the day my favorite athlete returned as well as the same day I would officially transfer high schools, something I was very excited about.

I remember sitting in the living room with my dad as we scurried toward his laptop to read the famous headline “I’m Coming Home.”

Still today, when I read LeBron’s letter, I feel my heart lift in my chest a little. I remember all the positive emotions I felt on that day. Just by reading that letter, it appeared on the surface as if my favorite athlete ever would be playing for my hometown team forever.

Let’s get one thing straight: Deep down, I still love LeBron James.

While I will never rock purple and gold with No. 23 on the back, I will never publicly trash him. I’m hurt now, yes, and will be even worse when I see him in his first game with the Lakers. But at the end of the day, LeBron ended the 52-year title drought in Cleveland while giving myself and the city some amazing memories along the way. He did make true on his promise.

“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” James wrote in his homecoming article in 2014.

He was right, too. Think about all of the children from Cleveland that wore his jersey to Cavs games and made unforgettable memories while they were there. Those same kids who wore No. 23 themselves in their own little league sports, while scribbling on their sneakers as their hero, LeBron, does. How do those kids feel now that their hero is gone?

James left his hometown for the prosperous city of Los Angeles.

With James in Miami, bars and restaurants within a one-mile radius of Quicken Loans Arena struggled financially. You’d have to think that the same thing is set to happen again on those cold, snowy weekdays in downtown Cleveland with no good basketball to watch.

I guess you can label my emotions regarding LeBron as confused.

He made four-straight NBA Finals appearances with the Cavaliers. While this is nothing short of spectacular, he blazed through a generally weak Eastern Conference every year. It is confusing as to why he made the decision to head to a loaded West.

Furthermore, James now joins the Ball Family Circus that is taking place in Los Angeles. Not only does he have to deal with their off the court antics, but does not yet have much talent supporting him either. The Lakers have since signed Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo since LeBron agreed to come. These guys aren’t necessarily the “help” an aging James’ needs.

On top of all of these “cons” to stay out of L.A., James joined anyway, abandoning his hometown team once again. If it was truly bigger than basketball then why would LeBron depart again?

Was it bigger than basketball? Or was it a good chance to use Kyrie Irving to secure another ring in his hometown?

I also understand that James and Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert didn’t really get along too well. Without James committing to Cleveland long-term, Gilbert was constantly hesitant to make moves. However, after the glorious 2016 championship parade, Gilbert opened up his pocketbook to keep LeBron’s boys in town. They’re still in town and making a ton of Gilbert’s money, while James is in LaLa Land for the foreseeable future.

I’m not going to root for LeBron James, but like I said before, I’m not going to trash him. This was a rather selfish move, but he did deliver on his promise and that is something that I will hold onto forever.

My childhood hero is gone again, it’s different this time, but it hurts just the same.


Nick Pedone, who is unashamedly fighting back tears, can be reached on his Twitter @NickPedone12

Image: Getty Images

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