For a third time in his career, LeBron James used free agency to join a new team. In 2010 he became a member of the Miami Heat, then returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and this summer signed a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
James’ decision to leave Cleveland angered fans, and the reaction to their hometown hero setting up in South Beach was disappointing and embarrassing. Many chose to burn James’ Cavaliers jerseys and spew hatred on social media.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert penned an infamous letter that claimed his team would win a championship before James did. That didn’t manifest, of course, and it wasn’t until James returned that the Cavaliers won their first title.
Fortunately, news of James signing with the Lakers was met with a much more measured response. Gilbert himself wrote a much more sensible letter, thanking James. Perhaps it’s because he delivered on a promise to the city of Cleveland.
The Indians’ Double-A Minor League affiliate, the Akron RubberDucks, took matters a step further by retiring James’ No. 23 jersey, via ESPN:
LeBron James has his number retired by his hometown minor league baseball team, the Akron RubberDucks. pic.twitter.com/bylgaPy3nL
— ESPN (@espn) July 23, 2018
The RubberDucks also used their game to run a promotion for fans who wore James memorabilia to the game, with a portion of the proceeds going to his foundation.
TONIGHT: We're celebrating the hometown hero @KingJames with the retirement of #23! $5 tickets when you buy in-person at the Box Office wearing a James' t-shirt or jersey! For each walk-up ticket purchased we'll donate $1 to the LeBron James Family Foundation. pic.twitter.com/Y8ssXjt5vb
— Akron RubberDucks (@AkronRubberDuck) July 23, 2018
For as much as he’s accomplished on the court, James is equally active in the community. The LeBron James Family Foundation is set to open a public school in the city of Akron on Monday, July 30.
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