LeBron James is returning to ... Cleveland.
In a dramatic move announced Friday via an interview with Sports Illustrated, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the sweepstakes for the biggest free agent on the market and best player in the world. A member of James' team confirmed the decision to USA TODAY Sports.
What once seemed inconceivable is now a reality. LeBron James is a Cavalier again.
Let that sink in.
LeBron James is a Cavalier again.
"When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission," James told SI. "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."
The Akron-born James is returning to Cleveland four years after leaving the team in soul-crushing fashion for the Miami Heat, which prompted Cavaliers fans and owner Dan Gilbert to turn viciously on the NBA superstar.
It's an astonishing completion to the circle and a homecoming for the ages: The hometown hero turned reviled villain is again the celebrated hometown hero.
The magnetic pull of returning to Cleveland, where James spent the first seven years of his NBA career, and trying to bring the city its first major championship since 1964 was too strong to resist.
The 29-year-old went to Miami, won two titles and repaired his reputation. He joined friends and fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in forming a historic trio, but the Big 3 lasted only four years. He is a four-time MVP, two-time Finals MVP and Hall of Fame-bound superstar.
Goodbye Miami, it was great while it lasted. Hello Cleveland, where there is unfinished business.
James' agent, Rich Paul, talked with the Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, and James and Paul met Wednesday with Heat President Pat Riley in Las Vegas.
It came down to Miami and Cleveland, and home won. His decision now opens the free agent flood gates. Expect teams to start making rapid-fire deals and players to find teams quickly after days of waiting.
His decision also leaves the Heat in a quandary. Bosh could leave for the Houston Rockets, and although it's not exactly starting over, the Heat must remake the roster. Heat fans will be disappointed but likely won't react with the same anger as Cavs fans did when he left Cleveland four years ago.