It's official: LeBron James is taking his talents back to the Cavaliers, the very team that he abandoned four years ago. Many people in Cleveland are celebrating the news while others are simply shocked. New York Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden did not think James would return.
"Today I woke up and thought it was a dream," Rhoden said. "I swear, maybe because forgiveness is not one of my stronger suits, but there's no way, after the owner trashed me the way Gilbert trashed LeBron and then seeing the fans burning my uniform, taking my image and dumping me in the garbage can, no way am I going back."
Rhoden does understand the move though because, to him, James felt at home in Cleveland in a way he never did in Miami.
"And I think at some point, he is concerned. With Cleveland, the fans really do care," Rhoden said. "At Miami they come a half-hour late. They leave early. I think part of him wanted to come home."
Rhoden sees James' return as an almost poetic career move.
"In a way it's like the prodigal son," he told CBS News. "He left to do what he had to do, which he did. He won two championships. He had a successful career. He told them, 'I gotta leave, but now I'm coming back because Miami doesn't do it for me anymore, New York probably wouldn't do it for me anymore, LA...' I think on a certain level there is something real about that. This is home."
One aspect of the return that Rhoden is concerned about is how these fans will react if James doesn't deliver.
"A lot of those people you see in the street, a lot of those people burned his jersey," Rhoden said. "What happens in five years when they haven't won the championship? I'll be very curious to find out how they feel about it. Will they burn jerseys again?"