Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

  • Wreckage from missing Algerian plane reportedly found: Malian TV

    Read more

  • France says missing Algerian plane 'probably crashed'

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets with Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy

    Read more

  • Algerian jet vanishes: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to easy victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European aviation agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

Sport

Cleveland's NBA fans hail 'return of king' LeBron James

© AFP | Cleveland fans wave a cutout photo of LeBron James on Friday.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-12

NBA superstar LeBron James made an emotional return Friday to the Cleveland Cavaliers, departing the Miami team in the hopes of bringing his hometown the same success he helped his Florida club achieve.

Four years after leaving the Cavaliers to chase his first NBA title with fellow stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, an unapologetic James said he wanted to bring the long-suffering sports fans of his home region a championship.

James took a four-year deal worth $88 million with Cleveland over a five-year Miami offer worth $122 million and intends to finish his glittering career at the Cavaliers.

The dramatic move by the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player ended days of speculation about his free agency choice, which had Cleveland fans in a frenzy of anticipation.

"In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have," James, who grew up just south of Cleveland, in Akron, told Sports Illustrated in a first-person essay.

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

Miami can look back happily on a mini-dynasty of four straight trips to the NBA finals that produced two titles.

In sunny South Beach, a favorite haunt of the rich and famous, the beat will go on, with soccer icon David Beckham and a Major League Soccer franchise on the way to fill the sports celebrity void.

For Cleveland, however, James's return is the unlikeliest of reconciliations after the ugliest of sporting divorces, a reunion that will re-energize a rust belt city still recovering from a painful recession.

Celebrating in the streets of Cleveland, fans hailed "The Return of the King," the same streets where James jerseys were burned in 2010 after he announced he was ditching Cleveland for Miami.

In an open letter to fans, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert then blasted James as a narcissist and deserter, saying Cleveland would win an NBA championship before "the self-titled former 'king' wins one".

Salary cap

The 29-year-old won NBA crowns with Miami in 2012 and 2013, but lost in the 2011 finals, as well as to San Antonio in last month's finals, after which James opted out of his Heat contract to consider other offers.

Thanks to NBA salary cap rules giving teams a financial edge in trying to retain talent, Miami offered better terms, but could not offer the prospect of going home, James posting a photo of himself in a Cavaliers uniform on Instagram and Twitter with the phrase, "I'm coming home."

James said he had followed his heart.

"I looked at other teams, but I wasn't going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy," he said.

"My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now."

Las Vegas Hotel and Casino Superbook oddsmakers quickly made the Cavaliers a 3-1 favorite to win the 2015 NBA title, with Miami suddenly a 100-1 longshot.

But James warned: "I'm not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver."

Not since the 1964 Cleveland Browns won the National Football League crown has the city known a major sports champion.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters)

Date created : 2014-07-12

COMMENT(S)