For the second time in his career, LeBron James must return to Cleveland after deciding to leave the Cavaliers in free agency. However, this time around will hopefully be a lot more pleasant than the first time. For those that don’t remember, when James decided to leave Cleveland the first time it resulted in one of the most brutal reactions in recent NBA history.
Within minutes of James’ decision, images of his jersey being burned in the street were being shown on TV. When James did return in an opposing uniform it was followed by an atmosphere that many have described as scary. Via USA Today.
“During the intros, it was (as) vile as anything I’d ever seen,” former Cavs general manager David Griffin said.
“The night before, there was a rally downtown, and it was so full of hate. I was one of the hosts. We tore his jersey apart on stage. All the urinals in the bar had LeBron’s face on it. I just remember feeling dirty about it. Yes, we didn’t like LeBron. But then, I was getting scared about what the environment at the game was going to be like. Is someone going to run on the court and take a swing at him? Is someone going to throw something and injure the guy? I remember doing a couple of interviews and saying, ‘I’m going to boo, but I’m going to do it respectfully. I’m not going to cross the line.’ ”
Nothing ever got physical that night, but the atmosphere itself was something that many people don’t look back on fondly. The second return, however, is expected to go much better. Since that infamous night, James has won multiple titles and even brought one to Cleveland in a shocking return. He gave the city its ring. He did what he wanted and then he went out west to Los Angles to pursue other passions. As a result, James ets to do what he wants now with very little criticism.