CLEVELAND — Relax, Miami, LeBron James isn’t leaving the Heat.
Not yet anyway.
One day after saying he would not rule out a return to play for the Cavaliers at some point in his career, the superstar did not back away from those comments. James, though, did try to reassure fans who may have taken his remarks the wrong way that he’s fully committed to helping the Heat win an NBA title this season
“I love the fans of Miami. I’m here,” he said following Friday’s shootaround as the Heat prepared to play the Cavs. “The question was asked of me, could I see myself playing back here. I said yeah, in the sense of I don’t know what my future holds and I don’t want to take that out. I love the fans of Miami.
“I’ve got everything invested with this team. I’m looking forward to the years to come.”
James, who famously left Cleveland in July 2010 as a free agent to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat, caused a stir on Thursday when he was asked if he could ever see himself playing for the Cavs again. The two-time MVP didn’t say no, leaving open the possibility he could return to Cleveland.
“I think it would be great,” James said of a return to Cleveland. “It would be fun to play in front of these fans again. I had a lot fun times in my seven years here. You can’t predict the future and hopefully I continue to stay healthy. I’m here as a Miami Heat player, and I’m happy where I am now, but I don’t rule that out in no sense.
“And if I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me.”
His response didn’t sit well with some Heat fans.
“I answered it truthfully,” James said. “But it’s all about this season for me and it’s all about playing with this Miami Heat team and trying to win an NBA championship. The fans of Miami shouldn’t be worried about anything at this point.”
James tortured Cleveland fans two years ago when he kept the city on edge before announcing his decision. He was asked if he has put Miami on a “clock.”
“I don’t know, I’m already on LeBron watch. For the most part, everything I do is the LeBron watch. But like I said, my mindset is on this season. My mindset is on helping this team win a championship and as a team get better every day,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back to Miami and seeing the fans.”
James is expecting another rude welcome on Friday night from Cleveland fans, who haven’t forgiven him for leaving them.
Not long after he and the Heat left Quicken Loans Arena after their shootaround, bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in to sweep the areas near Miami’s locker room. Asked if this was routine for every game, a police officer said, “No, just for that (expletive).”
James said he recently moved his family to South Florida, where his two sons now attend school.
“It was a very difficult year for me last year, a transition year for myself on the court and off the court,” he said. “I’m very comfortable when I’m with my whole family.
“My family is down there and I feel great.”