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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

James Clarifies 'I Ain't Going Nowhere' And Leaves Door Ajar

James Clarifies 'I Ain't Going Nowhere' And Leaves Door Ajar

Thank you, Cleveland. Of course, you know I love you all, of course. I love Ohio, and I ain't going nowhere. I'll be here." -- LeBron James on Oct. 4 at a voter registration rally in downtown Cleveland
"I'm from there, and so home is home for me. And that's the way I was feeling at that time. Home is -- no matter where you go or if you ever move somewhere else, it don't matter -- home is always going to be home, and that was what I was basically letting them know." -- LeBron James on Tuesday night in the visitors' locker room at the Meadowlands
It took 45 days, but LeBron James finally provided some clarification on what initially appeared to be his most definitive statement ever on his long-term career plans.
When James said, "I ain't going nowhere," what exactly did he mean?
That was the question posed to James by ESPN.com some 70 minutes before the Cleveland Cavaliers won their eighth straight game with a 106-82 victory over the New Jersey Nets.
James can become a free agent in 2010, and his intentions have been the subject of intense speculation in Cleveland, the New York area and elsewhere. As he responded to the question Tuesday, his answer once again gently moved the needle on the state of his future.
On that sunny day in October, upon hearing James' comments, Cleveland fans felt the needle moved forcefully in their direction, since his statement sounded pretty definitive. But since then, James had not clarified what he meant.
In the locker room Tuesday, he elaborated:
"You do what's best for you and your family; you do what's best for your career. Loyalty definitely has a big part to do with it … and every night I go out and play hard, and that's loyalty," James said.
"But it's hard, because it's a business. A franchise is going to do what's best for the franchise, and the players, for some odd players, when a player does what's best for the player, it comes back and almost looks bad. But when a franchise decides to give up on a player, then it's OK. So we've got to do what's best for us."
James went on to say he thinks this is the best Cavs team he's been a part of since being drafted by the team in 2003 and that he doesn't think he or anyone else could duplicate Oscar Robertson's feat of averaging a triple-double over the course of an 82-game season. (Even during another MVP-type performance Tuesday, he didn't get much closer to Big O's standard, recording four assists to go along with his 31 points and eight rebounds.)
But the statements that might carry the most weight are the ones about his future -- a future which, if he chooses, can begin July 1, 2010.
"When I decide to make that decision, it's going to basically put me in a position where I feel I can win multiple championships," James said. "If it's staying here, I'll be here, and if it's moving elsewhere, then I'll have to look at all my options."

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