Cheating men across the country take note, this is how to make amends to a scorned lover.
Kobe Bryant once famously did it with a $4 million ring for his wife that became more famous than his five championship rings. Another basketball icon, LeBron James, did it yesterday with a far less expensive but even more precious gift.
Any team in the NBA would have done virtually anything to get him, but he graciously held out the olive branch to an owner, a franchise, a city and a state which had learned to loathe him.
In a first-person story on SI.com (take that ESPN!), James wrote:
“Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get. In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert ingratiated himself to the fans back in July of 2010 by relentlessly mocking James as a traitor and worse. After James took his talents to South Beach, fans burned his $250 jerseys like they were campfire marshmallows.
The vitriol for his first game back in Cleveland was frightening. Those fans were out for blood.
For good reason.
James was the favorite son from Akron whose “Decision” to bolt the “Mistake by the Lake” for South Beach was by far the worst blow Cleveland sports fans have ever endured.
And that’s saying something because shell-shocked Clevelanders have endured nearly 50 years without a championship. Even that championship gets little respect as it was the 1964 Browns in the pre-Super Bowl days.
In that time, Boston fans have celebrated 19 titles: 10 by the Celtics and three each by the Patriots, Red Sox and Bruins.
In Ohio, he went from King James to King Joffrey that ill-fated day in 2010. The Decision, broadcast on (where else?) ESPN, came off as a classic case of kicking them while they are down.
That it was favorite son King James, who seemed destined to lead Cleveland to the long, long awaited title, delivering the swift kick to the gut made it cruel beyond words.
Long the butt of more jokes than any other city in the country, Clevelanders now may get the last laugh. He agreed to a four-year contract for a reported $88 million ... much less than what the Heat could have paid him.
We were all witnesses to one of the worst PR debacles in decades.
But now it’s ancient history. He’s made amends. The 6-8, 250-pound, 29-year-old wunderkind from Akron is back.
Unless you are meaner than Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, the Cavaliers now have to immediately become at least your second favorite NBA team.
All is now forgiven. James is now beloved. Cleveland isn’t a laughingstock.
Long live the King.
E-mail Michael Muldoon at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MullyET.