LeBron James returning home to Cleveland

Updated: 2014-07-12 08:27


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LeBron James returning home to Cleveland
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James pauses during play against the Boston Celtics during the second quarter in Game 3 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff basketball series in Boston in this file photo taken May 7, 2010. James is going home by signing with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, he said in an article in Sports Illustrated on Friday. [Photo/Agencies]

Taxis honked their horns and fans cheered across Cleveland as news of the return of the Ohio native spread.

"Welcome Home @kingjames," tweeted Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. "I am excited for the fans and people of Cleveland and Ohio. No fans and people deserve a winner more than them....."

Title Drought

No Cleveland team has won a major professional league title in 50 years since the 1964 Browns won the National Football League crown.

That could all be changing soon with the return of James, who took an overmatched Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals in 2007 when they were swept by San Antonio.

The addition of James to a young roster featuring premier point guard Kyrie Irving, 22, and last month's overall number one draft pick Andrew Wiggins, 19, is expected to shift the balance of power in the NBA and bookmakers reacted swiftly.

Cleveland, which has never won an NBA title in 44 years of existence and was 33-49 last season, was listed as 4-1 favorite to win next season's NBA title, with San Antonio rated 5-1 while Miami blew out to odds of 50-1.

James, a 10-time NBA All-Star who was drafted first overall by Cleveland in 2003, has averaged 27.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game in 11 NBA seasons.

"When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two," James said.

"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 Cavaliers cleared salary cap room this week to accommodate James by trading Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev to the Brooklyn Nets and Tyler Zeller and a future first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics earlier this week.

Before heading back to the home he keeps in Akron, about a 45-minute drive from Cleveland, James, a soccer fan, was taking off for Brazil to watch Sunday's World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina.

James stopped short of guaranteeing a Cavaliers title, but heartily accepted the mission.

"In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have," said James.

"I'm ready to accept the challenge. I'm coming home."

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