CLEVELAND-If it's only for one night, and perhaps for the last time, LeBron James came to the playoff atmosphere back to Ohio West.
Although James, first-time purple and gold wearing in Quicken Loans Arena, was the enemy once again, this time had many different feelings. He spent his Los Angeles Lakers at the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-105 in a night that felt more like a celebration and then sent.
James received a predominantly cave and later tribute of video that touched court performances as well as charitable work and I am a School Pledge. He always recognized the crowd, a long way to return as a member of the Miami Heat now eight years ago.
"We all have grown from that moment," says James. "The last four years, that championship we're running is that that was my congratulations to them."
Although James signed with the Lakers on July 1, his departure from the Cavs appeared even before that. As the Cleveland 2016 championship team began to fall slowly through free agency and trade, the latest running for the group to Round Finals in June came to an end in the hands of Golden State Warriors. The hope hoped that he would return there would still be there, but the mines around North East Ohio were slowly starting to accept that the latest occupation of James would end again.
"To be absolutely honest, when I made the decision, I was not absolutely surprised," said coach Larry Drew, Tyronn Lue's head of head coach, to the Bleacher Report. "I know that everyone hopes that he would return. I did not feel there was anything we could do. That was a decision that a player does when that part of & # 39 ; to a career. He will make the right decision for himself, his family and his career and that's what he did. "
The speedy survey of the Cavaliers carrier room did not reveal no bad feelings about James or a departure who has turned the four-time Eastern Conference Champion to the worst NBA 2-14 this season. Kevin Love asked the Cavaliers' new face despite the line currently following a gun surgery, attempting James before the game outside the Lakers locker room. Canning Frye and Larry Nance Jr left the Cavs bench to throw James before going to an end, and Tristan Thompson shared his old traditional trade holding with the MVP four times.
"I was not surprised, I was happy," Thompson told B / R on James signing the Lakers. "That's my brother. I was not surprised, just happy to him."
"He gave so much to this institution, he gave a lot to Miami. I believe him, he wanted to do what makes him happy. I do not think he's so much With all the team, it could have been pieces and Pieces for me. Personally, I set it all on the line. At this point in his career he deserved to make himself happy and a family were happy and they felt that they played for the Lakers. It's a man who likes to challenge himself and I believe It's a great challenge for him. He's a part of this great book that he will write when everything has been told and I did, so I was fun . "
Now with JR Smith now with the team, there are very few faces waiting from the Cleveland championship just two years ago. James has gone. Love is out until January. Frye is 35 and has appeared in just three total games this season.
As expected at the departure of James, possibly, it is not doubt that it was the glue that can hold all the turnover with each other and still pick up these to the rounds Final.
As one veteran Cavs said after the game, "Man, I'll miss playing at this stage."
Still, it was a night to celebrate James and everyone he had done to Cleveland. Perhaps no player was so grateful for his time with James as Osman Cedi in a second year. In the last season, Osman was pulled under James's huge wing and first thrown into the NBA fire.
"When I moved to the LA, of course, I was distressed," said Osman B / R. "But when I look back in my first year, I played in the NBA finals. Having played a lot of times with He went to court, he practiced with him. This is the whole thing I could ask for. "
Osman is now starting a little forward to Cleveland, where his mentor has been running for 11 years. He led his 21 points to the Cavs against James & Lakers, and this is the second largest in the next game to James & # 39; 32.
"I do not think anyone could have changed his mind except his family. He wanted what he was best for a family and that's what everyone wants," said Osman.
Osman still has subjects with James, and the couple worked celebrity with her summer in Los Angeles with Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. Osman says he hopes to have a call from James nextseason as he is "the best player in the world."
"Cedi is one of the favorite men I played with, and it was only for a year," said James. "He has a love for the game, so my connection has grown even stronger with Cedi, although I have been on another coast."
On a night that was so hateful eight years ago, a bad word could not be found between supporters or ex-members. The reward for James and the championship who helped to achieve is still fresh in the minds of those who suffered for a long time without a title. For those who helped to win it, no exclusion is now leaving the franchise in ruins.
Playoff atmosphere A celebration of what was in place of hate for what is now. Indeed, growth has been shown in Cleveland by all.
"That's how it was supposed to be," said Thompson. "They made it the right way. I think everyone understands and they almost liked, already. We did not like, we appreciate this man. Give us so much, he has given us everything. If he wants to move on and start another Chapter in his life we are all for him.
"You're still friends at the end of the day," added Thompson. "I'm going to love you just like you'll love me, I'm going to love you from a distance."
Greg Swartz covers the NBA for the Bleacher Report.