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LeBron leaves Cleveland for LA Lakers

By JOE VARDON • Updated Jul 1, 2018 at 10:34 PM

CLEVELAND — LeBron James agreed to a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, ending his second run as the face of his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James, born in Akron and drafted No. 1 by the Cavs in 2003, is leaving the Cavs for the second time in eight seasons. But this time, it's two-years removed from bringing the organization its first title.

James' agreement with the Lakers was announced through a simple press release sent by his agent, Rich Paul, which says James, a 14-time All-Star, three-time Finals MVP, and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was joining the Lakers.

"Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible 4 seasons," James said in a message on his Instagram account. "This will always be home."

James also posted to Instagram the message "see you soon," -- a reference to the opening of his public school through the Akron school district and his LeBron James Family Foundation, which is set for the end of this month.

And that's it. A source close to LeBron said there will be no press conference in Los Angeles, no on-stage celebrating. Nothing that will take Cleveland fans back to that fateful July night in 2010 when he said on ESPN he was taking his talents to South Beach.

James has grown since then. So has the city he's leaving again, if not in sheer numbers then in spirit, in no small part because of the four years James gave the Cavs the second time around.

In his four years since returning to Cleveland, James averaged 26 points with 7.7 rebounds and 8.0 assists. His best statistical season was the last, where his 27.5 points were the most since 2010 (an ominous sign, it turns out) and he tied a career high with 8.6 boards and set a new best with 9.1 assists.

James has played 11 total seasons with the Cavs, pushing them to five Finals -- counting the franchise's first trip in 2007.

The last time James scored this many points in a season, he left and joined the Heat. Only, when he returned to the Cavs in 2014, he said at least four times he would not do this very thing -- leave the Cavs again.

In a sitdown interview with CNN in 2014, James said "I plan on finishing my career back home." In his Sports Illustrated essay announcing his return, he said "I always believed I'd return to Cleveland finish my career there." At his homecoming celebration at the University of Akron, he told roughly 30,000 screaming fans: "I don't plan on going nowhere. I don't have the energy to do it again."

And last September, he said his intention to remain with the Cavs "hasn't changed."

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