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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

LeBron James denies making contact with Dan Gilbert about returning to Cleveland

LeBron James caused quite a stir this week when he made comments hinting at a possible return to Cleveland. James and the Heat disposed of the Cavaliers handily Friday night in Cleveland, 111-87, but after Thursday’s practice James turned heads with the following comments: “I think it would be great, it would be fun to play in front of these fans again. … I’m happy where I’m at now. But I don’t rule that out in no sense. If I decided to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me.”

On Friday, a Yahoo! Sports report emerged detailing attempts by LeBron’s camp to get in touch with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and discussing a return to the team he so notoriously spurned.

This was no accident, no misspeaking, nothing out of context. Before mentioning Thursday his openness to playing in Cleveland again, James months ago had an emissary or two carry that message to the Cavaliers’ front office, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. His camp wanted the message delivered to owner Dan Gilbert, sources said, but so far, the response has been silence.

“He has started to lay the groundwork, and he’s waiting to see what Dan Gilbert’s reaction to it is,” one league source with direct knowledge told Yahoo! Sports.

After Friday’s game — which was only the Heat’s third trip to Cleveland since James departed in 2010 — James refuted the report.

“It’s not true, it’s not true at all,” LeBron told the Sun-Sentinel.

Gilbert, who wrote that vicious letter aimed at LeBron the night of “The Decision,” refused to comment on the matter for fear of penalty from the league.

James, 27, has four years left on his contract following this season and can opt out after two. If this little South Beach experiment doesn’t work out, who knows what the future could hold for LeBron.

After playing the villain for everyone last season, LeBron now just wants to be liked. If you ask me, his comments about potentially returning to Cleveland were an olive branch to the people of that city and an attempt to soften another harsh reception during the game. It’s no secret he still reveres those fans and that region. But until he goes back on national television telling Jim Gray, “I’m taking my talents back to Lake Erie,” LeBron’s words about playing in Cleveland are just that.

H/T Eye on Basketball
Photo credit: David Richard, US Presswire

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