INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Wearing a wine-and-gold Cavs uniform again, LeBron James took his first steps toward ending Cleveland’s championship drought.
Back home and where he began his NBA career, James and the transformed Cavaliers held media day Friday as they began a journey they hope ends with the city’s first pro sports championship since the Browns won it all in 1964. More than 300 media members, including TV crews from Germany, Japan and Brazil, descended upon the team’s training facility — most of them to see James.
The superstar, who won two titles in four years with the Miami Heat, knows winning a title for Cleveland would be the pinnacle of his career. He also knows it won’t be easy.
"I still have a lot to prove because of expectations I put on myself," James said. "I ask more of myself than anybody can ever ask of me. My expectations are still high but I am more patient now than I was four years ago. I understand what it takes to win a championship. I understand winning a championship is the hardest thing you could ever do. I’ve been two up and two down in four years.
"I went from crying tears of joy to tears of frustration. I know it all. I know what it takes."
James re-signed as a free agent this summer with the Cavs, who then acquired All-Star forward Kevin Love in a trade from Minnesota. Along with Kyrie Irving, Cleveland has a "Big 3" perhaps better than the one James had in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh .
The talented group will be guided by David Blatt, who will be coaching in the NBA for the first time after a successful international career.
"Let’s get it on," Blatt said. "I’m like Marvin Gaye up here. Let’s get it started."
Blatt said the significance of this season hit him as he arrived for work.
"I couldn’t find a parking place," he joked.
The Cavs haven’t been to the playoffs in four years — since James left — but they’ve gone from being irrelevant to the epicenter of the NBA. Still, there are no guarantees and James knows the team can’t take any shortcuts to reach the top.
"You can’t try to play November to get to June or May right now," he said. "You have to be patient."
James made it clear that he’ll lead the Cavs and his experience will make them better.
"I will be the leader of the team," he said. "I believe I bring leadership qualities that a lot of guys either don’t want or just don’t know how to do it — and I can. I can lead by example. I can lead by voice. I can lead by command and I can lead by just my presence. That’s the most important thing for me. That’s what I’m more excited about than anything."