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On LeBron Coming Home: An Ohioan’s Perspective

By AJ / 07.11.14

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I’m a sentimental guy, so I hate moving. Everything about it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Saying good-bye to old friends, unearthing old pictures of an ex-girlfriend that I totally forgot existed, going to my local gym or the pizza shop down the street that one last time; it’s all a giant mind-f*ck. But here I am, swapping states for the third time in three years.

In a week’s time, I’ll be updating my Facebook and Twitter to reflect my new residence: New York City. Make no mistake — the move is an exciting one, and I’m looking forward to paying entirely too much for a pack of cigarettes and getting lost on the subway.

But Ohio will always be home. Cleveland will always be the city I represent, loudly and proudly. The state that I was born in, raised in, moved away from after college, returned to and am now leaving in the name of grad school will always come first. See me on the street, and there’s a damn good chance I’m wearing a Cleveland Browns sweater or a Cavaliers hat. I’m not just from Ohio; I define myself by the Buckeye State. Tins, Gotty, D and a pile of rejected Cleveland sports-based pitches from my early days at TSS can attest to this.

Homerism is irrational. You can’t really discuss it from a scientific perspective; I’m not here to say that Ohio is the best state on the planet (although I honestly feel that way). Anybody reading this should feel that same sense of pride about their home. There’s a reason Gotty’s been a Volunteer for such a long time and why Tins is always repping the DMV. Home is home is home. Branching out is a natural desire. But the grass beneath your feet will never feel more inviting than the kind that raised you.

So. LeBron James. A lot of factors played into his return to Cleveland. On the most visible level, the Cavaliers had the best possible roster, featuring a combination of talent and youth that Pat Riley can’t even pretend to emulate. And that’s without Kevin Love (possibly) donning the wine and gold.

But don’t overlook the intangibles behind the move. His wife Savannah gave the first clue that a return might be in the cards. Better yet, Akron (and northeast Ohio) is home, as the narrative has shown since LeBron was a high school phenom at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School. Even if there wasn’t a proverbial Goliath to topple (Cleveland’s 50-year championship drought), and even if the besting of said Goliath represents the kind of legacy-defining turn that wouldn’t be achievable in Miami, the fact remains. Home is home.

Even if he’s the single biggest athlete in America, the fact remains. Even if he has his choice of teams and markets, the fact remains.

To the outside world, LeBron James threw a curveball. He actually picked Ohio. He picked home.

Ask yourself. Is it really that surprising?

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