Fans glad to have LeBron back home

It wasn’t just folks around Cleveland who rejoiced Friday upon hearing the news that NBA star LeBron James will be taking his talents from Miami back to the Cavaliers.

Locally, fans are already crossing their fingers for a winning season and some business owners are hoping to see more dollars flow in on game nights with the basketball star back in Ohio.

Cavs fans were a combination of heartbroken and furious four years ago when James announced he would be leaving his hometown for South Beach. Those same fans seem to have forgotten all about the shocking departure now that their “Chosen One” has decided to come back home, expecting that James could instantly take the team from mediocre to championship-caliber.

The local reaction was generally positive as people believe having LeBron on the Cavs will benefit not only the team, but the local economy as well.

“It’ll be good for business for us,” said Jason Morgan, a chef at the Marietta Brewing Company.

Morgan was as excited as anyone to hear the news of James’ return.

“It was a perfect way to wake up and start my Friday,” he said.

Morgan said the brewery will likely be a hot spot this winter for people wanting to watch Cavalier games.

Although James’ decision was a topic that brought much debate and speculation, Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said he wasn’t surprised by the news.

“I’ve been following it quite closely. I’m a die-hard Ohio sports fan,” he said. “I’ve said all along that LeBron would be back and people thought I was crazy.”

Matthews agreed with Morgan that the decision will have a substantial economic effect.

“It will definitely have a big impact on the Cleveland, Canton, Akron area,” Matthews said. “And anytime something like that happens, it can have a spillover effect with anybody in the state.”

After the way things ended with James and the Cavs the first time around, it’s easy to see why people were skeptical about him returning. But Matthews felt it was inevitable.

“He went and got his rings in Miami,” he said. “Now I think he’s satisfied and ready to come home. This is his stomping grounds.”

Marietta College women’s basketball coach Stacia Shrider attended college at Baldwin-Wallace in Berea and understands the desire to be there.

“I had a feeling he would come back to Cleveland. He’s very northeast Ohio-oriented,” she said.

Considering the number of people who were outraged and the quantity of jerseys that were set on fire when James exited, surprisingly few people seem to still hold a grudge against him. The vast majority are saying they’re just thrilled to have him back on their side.

“People know he will win,” Shrider pointed out. “People know he’s one of the greatest basketball players ever.”

Add former Warren hoops standout Evan French to the list of people on board with having the “King” back in the Buckeye State.

“I’ve always been a LeBron fan, and even when he left for Miami he was still my favorite player even though I was disappointed,” French said.

“I feel like he matured a lot in Miami and realized where his heart really was – back in Cleveland,” he said. “I think he has a great chance of making history in Cleveland with the addition of Wiggins and joining Irving, and his Finals experience will benefit the whole team and bring the Cavs franchise back together.”

French always held out hope that James would return one day and didn’t dare get rid of any of his merchandise.

“I’ve had my LeBron Fathead in my room ever since he left hoping he would come back eventually,” he said.