LeBron James returns to Cleveland, a nation holds its breath
Everyone from Albert Belle to Phil Jackson to Shaquille O'Neal to the enterprising citizens of Cleveland to seemingly anyone who has photoshop or the germ of an idea for a video takeoff on "Rise" has gotten in on the impending first return of LeBron James and his Miami Heatsters to the city he spurned for a basketball game tonight.
This is more than a mere game against the Cavs. It's LeBronmageddon. LeBroncapalyse. LeBronapalooza. LeBronnawakemewhenit'sover.
The Big Day began fittingly oddly enough with the Heat's plane encountering mechanical problems and requiring fire trucks on the runway as it landed in Cleveland in the wee smalls of this morning.
Security has been beefed up at the Q, but not so much as to be oppressive. "We're not trying to create a police state for this game," Cavs spokesman Tad Carper said. Whew.
Elsewhere on the journey to today, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert said he's over the departure of his superstar King James (paying a $100,000 fine to David Stern helped), then reportedly has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to look into pressing tampering charges. ("That's chasing ghosts right there," said former Cav Zydrunas Ilgauskas.)
Along the way, Abert Belle turned into the ambassador of peace, love and understanding. "My advice to LeBron is to take the high road and act professional," Belle told the Plain Dealer. "I hope the fans do the same. I don't want them to embarrass themselves on TV. I'd like to see everybody hug and kiss before the game and then the fans can boo the heck out of LeBron during the game."
Pheel Jackson won't be watching. It's a night off for the Lakers' coach and, on his night off, he and Jeanne wash their cars. Besides, Jackson hates the loud announcers in Cleveland. "It's just an obnoxious place."
As for LeBron himself, what will he do, besides check his naughty/nice list? What should he do? Should he throw baby powder into the air, his signature move? "I'm a silly fan," Shaquille O'Neal said. "I'm anxious to see if he's going to do that powder thing."
"The powder? I probably will," James said Tuesday. "That's just a ritual for myself, a routine that I've always done, I've done on the road. I don't know. We'll see. I may change. I don't know."
Of course he doesn't.
| December 2, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories: LeBron James, NBA
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