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Posted at 2:15 PM ET, 12/ 2/2010

LeBron James returns to Cleveland, a nation holds its breath

By Cindy Boren

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."

What will the place be like, besides obnoxious? His "Witness" banner is gone. There's an official chant sheet for fans, a "Lyin' King" T-shirt and a Laugh at LeBron Twitter feed.

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.

By Cindy Boren  | December 2, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  LeBron James, NBA  
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Posted by: typrather | December 2, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I hate Phil Jackson. However, I don't think I hate any American more than LeBron James. The baby gets thrown as with the bath water tonight.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 2, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse


I hate Phil Jackson. However, I don't think I hate any American more than LeBron James. The baby gets thrown OUT with the bath water tonight.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 2, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the fans in Cleveland will throw anything and everything at this egomaniac, one-trick bball entertainer. Who cares if the heat win, as long as the folks show james what it means to be disrepectful to the fans that pay the bills.

Posted by: ex-Navy | December 2, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Pretty much an overblown story. Cleveland stunk before LeBron arrived. His presence made them competitive and now the fans are mad at him for leaving. Who cares?

Posted by: randysbailin | December 2, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, I'm more interested in the NFL game. I'll be clicking back and forth. And, of course, watching "Grey's Anatomy," too.

[Just checking to see if you're paying attention.]

Posted by: CindyBoren | December 2, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I played Basketball on every level but the pros and I LOVE the game. That said, lets keep things in perspective, people. It is just a stupid game where you throw a ball into a metal ring. Please acting like any of this matters or that LJ is something more than he is.

In the long view I say, who cares

Posted by: dbeins | December 2, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

True, but this is turning out to be fun. The place is rockin' and I'm still trying to figure out if Marv Albert is a blonde now or if it's just the lights.

Posted by: CindyBoren | December 2, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't get why people are so angry with Lebron for moving to another team! You guys are acting like jilted lovers or something! The guy moved on, GET OVER IT!! It matters NOT what you think, I'm sure Lebron hasn't lost a minute of sleep over his decision! And why should he, he was a player under contract, YOU DON'T OWN HIM!! Your reactions to this young mans decision says more about you than it does him! So please, GET A LIFE!!

Posted by: Angryman | December 3, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

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