The 2016 NBA championship has elevated LeBron James to the status of a God-like adonis in Cleveland, yet the 'Kid from Akron' was formerly despised as the state of Ohio's greatest traitor.
James, who was selected by the Cavaliers in the third round of the 2003 NBA Draft out of high school, was upset that his team, the Cavaliers, was unable to go to the NBA Finals in 2010,
even though he was the best player in the world at the time. At that point, he decided to leave his hometown, take his skills to Miami, and sign with the Heat.
However, he did it during a 90-minute live TV presentation during which he held his audience waiting for a half-hour before making his announcement.
It's safe to argue that a player has never faced such a harsh response. James was abused from the minute he appeared on the big screen for the first time hours
before tip-off on his first visit back to the Quicken Loans Arena, which is now known as the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. That evening, the Cavaliers supporters made their views known
with a number of banners, placards, and strong language, so things didn't get better for him. Because of the tense environment, the Cavaliers only offered
beverages in paper cups to prevent them from being hurled into the court. However, as former ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols noted at the time, one fan went over and above.
James remained with the Heat for four years before making an emotional trip back to Cleveland. His courageous performance in the 2016 NBA Finals put an end to Cleveland's barren streak of 52
years without a major athletic victory. It didn't take him long to win back the fans' support. He is now regarded as a historical legend and beloved in Cleveland. He was accorded
a hero's welcome and enthusiastic applause during his first comeback after departing once more in 2018, this time for the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Cavaliers broadcasted a video
tribute to him mid-game. The person who many consider to be second only to Michael Jordan in the "GOAT" discussion will never experience a negative reaction from Cleveland supporters again.