Some columns happen out of the blue, nearly writing themselves.
Friday was one of those days, shuffling through bags of notes and reference materials in search of the column du jour.
The lead, for the timeless column, was scrawled on a yellow legal pad when I left the End Stool for home. After taking care of a few chores, I turned on the television which was tuned to my usual 5 a.m. program of Mike & Mike on ESPN.
There it was, a new de jour column breaking.
Months of speculation, that became hysteria in the last two weeks, of where the King of Basketball would reign in his 12th season in the National Basketball Association were to end.
No athlete has created media frenzy and fan passion of LeBron James, arguably the greatest basketball player in history.
But this is not a sports story.
It could be an Aesop fable or a biblical parable. It is a story of maturing, forgiving and healing.
It is a story with a happy ending that many of us experience as we mature.
It is a story of Dorothy repeating, “There is no place like home. There is no place like home.”
A brief prologue
Experts and basketball insiders speculated James would return to the Miami Heat in search of another championship ring. The team had gone to four championship series and won two during his four years there.
Returning to Cleveland, his home area and where he began his professional career, was rated lower than a dark horse, not a chance.
LeBron is more than a basketball player.
He is a leader. He embraces his role as a role model and has been a good citizen and example despite being in the sports spotlight beginning as a freshman in high school. He had the talent and body to go directly into the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers as the top draft choice in 2003.
At only 29, he already has played 11 years, a career for most of his peers. He compared his four years in Miami to going to college and then returning home.
LeBron made the intelligent choice to announce his decision in writing, to ensure his thought process and goals were known and not open to misquotes. He chose to make it a national release in Sports Illustrated.
Two important points are:
“I feel my calling goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
“In northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.
“I accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”
There is a good feeling that LeBron opted to go back home to Akron/Cleveland.
Cleveland is a Rodney Dangerfield city. “It don’t get no respect,” much like Milwaukee on the least favorite cities to play in chart.
LeBron coming home can help change that perception. How the area responds to his leadership and overall agenda will make the real difference.
It is a story that affirms a belief in fairy tale endings, even if there is no immediate championship in the future.
It also shows you can go home again and the Prodigal Son returns a wiser man.
Home is where the heart is.