Fervor surrounding LeBron reaches fever pitch in Cleveland

Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:22pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - LeBron James is closing in on what would be the greatest feat of an already storied NBA career after putting his Cleveland Cavaliers in position to end a half century of heartbreak for the city.

Five years after he was vilified in Cleveland for leaving the team for Miami in pursuit of championships, James has the Cavaliers two wins away from an upset victory over the top-seeded Golden State Warriors in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

"It was a bitter moment when I left the first time, but it's a sweet moment here now that I'm back," James told reporters on Wednesday a day before the Cavaliers host a pivotal Game Four.

"Both sides had an opportunity to kind of miss each other, and they say if it's worth having and it's supposed to be there, then it will always come back."

When James, who grew up in nearby Akron, Ohio, infamously announced in 2010 that he was leaving the Cavaliers after seven years to sign with the Miami Heat, a 10-story-tall mural of him was promptly removed.

The image of James, his arms outstretched and head thrown back after doing his pregame powder toss, had dominated the Northeastern Ohio city's skyline for years.

His decision to bolt for sunny Miami resulted in an immediate backlash as James was cast as a villain in a city that had once revered him.

Cavaliers supporters immediately took to the streets after James announced his plans on primetime TV, many burning his replica No. 23 jersey and throwing rocks at the giant billboard.   Continued...

Jun 9, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) dunks the ball against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports