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"But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn't know they could go."
Before he decided to come back, James said he met with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who had eviscerated the four-time MVP on his way out of town in 2010. Gilbert had written a letter to Cleveland fans, calling James a narcissist, coward and "self-proclaimed King." But the two reportedly cleared the air during a meeting in Florida last weekend.
The backlash of his departure scarred James.
He has healed.
"It was easy to say, 'OK, I don't want to deal with these people ever again.' But then you think about the other side," he said. "What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I've met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We've talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I've made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?"
Gilbert flew to South Florida on Sunday and told James he was sorry.
"The truth of the matter is we had five years together and we had one bad night," Gilbert told NBA-TV in Las Vegas during the Cavs' summer league opener. "I certainly talked about the things I was embarrassed about and apologized about that night, they talked about a few things and we got it out of the way pretty quick. It's all about the future."
When the news broke Friday, strangers hugged and high-fived on the streets outside Quicken Loans Arena, which will likely be sold out for every game next season now that James is back. The Cavs are again the hottest ticket in town.
For Cleveland, the pain is gone. Hope has returned.
The kid from Akron, dubbed a "King" in high school, is back on his throne.
James considered going elsewhere, but there really was only one choice.
"My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now," he said. "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."