From hated to hero for James in quest for Cleveland title

Tue Jun 2, 2015 4:10pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - Five years ago, Cleveland Cavalier fans were burning their LeBron James souvenir jerseys after he announced he was taking his talents to South Beach.

Now King James, the greatest basketball player of his generation, is hailed for his renewed quest to lead the Cavs to an NBA championship that would end a 51-year title drought for major professional teams in Cleveland.

James deserted Cleveland in July 2010 as a free agent to join the Miami Heat and forge a 'Big Three' with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They went to four successive NBA Finals and won two of them.

Last July, the Akron, Ohio native announced a return to Cleveland.

"My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question," he wrote in an essay in Sports Illustrated that proclaimed his decision. "But what's most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio."

Cleveland fans have not celebrated a trophy from one of their professional sports teams since the 1964 Cleveland Browns and legendary running back Jim Brown steamrolled the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in the days before the Super Bowl.

James, winner of four NBA Most Valuable Player awards, is a unique force -- a muscular 6-foot-8 player able to dominate as a scorer, as a playmaker and as a defender, with the ability to shift focus as strategy dictates.

His impact is undeniable.   Continued...

LeBron James laughs as he waits to address the media in Miami, Florida May 12, 2012.  REUTERS/Rhona Wise