LeBron James Is Returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, So Commence Freak-Out, Ohio

Despite the fact that we live in an era when births, engagements, and every single thing you could ever announce in life is announced on social media, LeBron James announced he's returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers via a Sports Illustrated exclusive. "I’m ready to accept the challenge," James wrote via an as-told-to essay in SI. "I’m coming home."

James's decision was made far faster than fans — and the Internet — expected. While mulling over whether to stay with the Miami Heat, or return to the Cleveland Cavaliers four years after leaving his hometown team (a move that was widely seen as a betrayal in the state), Twitter began to mock sports media's overcoverage of the possible switch with hashtags like #BeforeLeBronDecides. But as it turns out, James made his decision long before we saw a Sharknado sequel or determined how many licks it took to get in the center of a Tootsie Pop, choosing Cleveland just weeks after announcing he had become a free agent.

But why had he decided to make the change? It seems James simply believed there's no place like home. As he said to SI's Lee Jenkins:

Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.

Still, James writes he'll "always think of Miami as my second home," and justifies his controversial departure in 2010 by claiming he simply wanted to work with fellow Heat players Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. And it seems James's essay did enough to satisfy Cleveland fans — all is forgiven based on the mere existence of the trending hashtag #GoodForLebron. (And, certainly, considering his choice of announcement, it seems the media will follow suit as well — good for Lebron for giving back to fans and the press!)

So what's next for James? First and foremost, the basketball star says he wants to bring "one trophy back to Northeast Ohio" (though he still hedges his bets, telling fans he's "not promising a championship"). And one family:

I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there ... I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.

But mostly James is simply eager to get started. "I feel my calling here goes above basketball," he said. "I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously... It’s time to get to work."

So it's time to freak-out, Ohio.

Image: Sports Illustrated