By Ai Fumei
NEW YORK, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Lebron James, the four-time Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA champion, will sign a two-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, paving his way back to hometown Ohio.
The 29-year-old James was selected by Cleveland as the top pick of the 2003 NBA Draft and led the Cavaliers to their only NBA Finals in 2007.
After becoming a free agent in 2010, James announced through a television show on ESPN to join the Miami Heat, where he won two NBA titles with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. All three opted out of their contracts last month, leaving the future unclear for the Heat.
But now, things seemed have been settled. James' new deal with Cavaliers is worth 42.1 million U.S. dollars and also gives him an option to become a free agent next year. And his teammate Bosh decided to stay with the Heat, agreeing to a five-year contract that will be worth about 118 million U.S. dollars. The Miami is still working to get a Wade deal finalized.
Early on Friday, James announced his new move by posting a photo of himself in a Cavaliers Uniform on Instagram and Twitter with the phrase "I'm coming home."
He also explained his decision in a first-person essay for Sports Illustrated, saying "My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four year ago. I do now."
James' decision to go home by no means stirred different reactions from the Cavaliers and the Heat.
The Miami side expressed "disappointment" upon the news but also said James' desire to play in his hometown should be respected.
"While I am disappointed by LeBron's decision to leave Miami, no one can fault another person for wanting to return home," Heat President Pat Riley said in a statement. "Lebron is a fantastic leader, athlete, teammate and person, and we are all sorry to see him go."
And players and fans of the Cleveland universally applauded his return.
"The best player in the game comes to your team, it's a great experience. Me, Irving, all of us are going to enjoy learning from him and playing on the same team," said Andre Wiggins, the top pick in last month's NBA Draft by the Cavaliers.
"Welcome back bro. Your city awaits you," said Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson on his Twitter.
Being a native from Akron, Ohio, not far from Cleveland, James is dedicated to deliver a champion for the Cavaliers, but he also knows that it takes time and warns fans not to expect instant success.
"I'm not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We're not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I'm realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested," he said in the essay.
In next season in Cavaliers, James will be accompanied by a young squad, including star guard Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins and new coach Dave Blatt.
"I get thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn't know they could go," James said.