The Cleveland Cavaliers‘ first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by way of Akron, Ohio’s St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School, LeBron James gave Northeast Ohio hope.
Teamed with Kyrie irving and Kevin Love, James also won the Cavs a championship in 2016; the city’s first in a professional sport since the Cleveland Browns won an NFL Championship in 1964.
The journey of how James did it was cool, yet bittersweet. We remember how James left Cleveland for the Miami Heat in free agency in 2010 when he uttered 14 dreaded words that broke the hearts of fans in Cleveland: “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”
Led by Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat with the super team of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh appeared in four NBA Finals and won two championships.
James returned to Cleveland via free agency in 2014 and penned an essay as told to writer Lee Jenkins in Sports Illustrated that discussed his undying love for Northeast Ohio. “Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio,” said James.
“It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”
While James ultimately left Cleveland again in 2018 to join the Los Angeles Lakers; he left that city with the parting gift of an NBA Finals in win and all were happy including, natives like Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard. “I was happy for the city of Cleveland obviously having never won a championship in 52 years,” Broussard told me on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.
“And I covered the Indians when they went to the World Series in 1995 and had a chance to win it against Atlanta, but lost. So I had been close to them winning that elusive championship. But yeah, I was — like I said, it was just great to cover that Finals and to be there for those games. It was a great experience and I remember on the court as they’re celebrating winning the championship and everybody’s going crazy, Rich Paul; LeBron’s agent is in my ear [saying], “YOU KNOW HE’S THE GREATEST EVER NOW! YOU KNOW HE THE GOAT! JORDAN COULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT!!” …he’s trying to put it in my ear so I’ll go on TV and say something like that [laughs]. But yeah man, it was just good to experience that.”
Currently in his seventeenth season in the NBA, LeBron James is now chasing his fourth NBA Championship with teammate, Anthony Davis. The Lakers currently hold a 2-0 lead over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Broussard covered James since his high school days and wishes him well Broussard says that James’ arrival to the city of Cleveland was also beneficial to the marriage of his parents. I like LeBron,” says Broussard.
“I like him because he’s from the area; Akron obviously, and I got to know him. I did probably — I must’ve done maybe five or six cover stories on LeBron for ESPN: The Magazine so you get to know him a bit doing that. And then what really made me a really big LeBron and Cavs fan during those times in that era was when LeBron — when the Cavaliers won the Draft Lottery in 2003 to draft LeBron, my parents went out the next day; they still live in Cleveland and my parents went out the next day and got season tickets. They were season ticket holders throughout his first tenure [7 years] in Cleveland. And that gave them really — you know, they’ve been married for… it’ll be 55 years in October. So obviously they had a good marriage but, that and going to Cavs games, it just really gave them something to do together. It just enhanced their marriage and they were really into it. So being that my mother really loved LeBron; she’s met him and got a picture with him, my daughters have met him… and so, I was happy for LeBron.”