CLEVELAND - They're coming armed with lingering anger from an emotional summer breakup. They're going to yell and scream and vent at someone who did them wrong. It's the Akron kid they watched grow up, the one they loved, the one who restored hope only to rip their hearts out.
Indeed, Cleveland fans are on edge this week. And that can mean only one thing: LeBron James, Northeast Ohio’s prodigal son, is coming home.
Tonight, James returns to a city he captivated for seven seasons to face the Cavaliers, his former team and a franchise he lifted to unimagined heights and almost to an NBA title. But when the 25-year-old, wearing a No. 6 Miami Heat jersey, steps onto the floor of Quicken Loans Arena as a visitor, he will be the enemy and the eye of a fierce storm his move created.
The same crowd he once thrilled will be outwardly hostile and hateful toward him, but hopefully, harmless. He’ll be booed, taunted and subjected to ridicule beyond his imagination.
“He deserves every bit of it,” said Jim Osherow, a Cavaliers’ season-ticket holder for 36 years. “When you leave a team the way he did, that’s what you got coming. It was rotten what he did.”
Extra security measures are in place to prevent trouble and to protect the two-time league MVP. There will be uniformed and undercover police officers in the stands, near Miami’s bench and lining the tunnel area leading to the Heat locker room.
“I’m ready,” James said, “for whatever response that I’m going to get.”