Whenever a big-name athlete signs with another team, there's always a flurry of emotions that follow.
Fans of the superstar's new team fantasize about all of the championships the newcomer will bring as they scramble to buy jerseys with the athlete's name emblazoned on the back, while former fans bemoan their bad luck of losing out of another year with their star.
The same can be said for LeBron James, who signed a four-year max deal worth $154 million with the Los Angeles Lakers. The move ended his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers where he spent the last four years, leading the team to four straight Finals appearances and one championship. It was long-speculated that James would leave his hometown Cavaliers after being swept in the 2018 NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors.
After a short free-agency engagement with a few teams, James announced his signing Sunday through his sports agency, Klutch Sports Group, and the country reacted on social media.
How Cleveland Fans Reacted To Lebron Leaving
The first time LeBron signed with a different team it left Cleveland fans in a state of chaos. People trashed James on social media and even posted videos of them burning his jersey in the streets.
But with time comes grace, and those fans have become more appreciative of LeBron and what he did for the city. Fans were obviously disappointed to see him go, but they responded more with wistful reminiscence of the good times rather than attack him for round two.
Yes I'm heartbroken that Lebron went to the Lakers, but he gave our city a championship we've been waiting on for over 50 years. He gave Cleveland something to be proud of. You will be missed @KingJames
— Alec (@asapolin) July 2, 2018
Some fans even acknowledged they would be switching allegiances as they follow Lebron to the Lakers.
How LA Fans Reacted To Lebron Arriving
On the flip-side, the people of Los Angeles and Lakers fans all over the country joined together in welcoming LeBron to his new team and the city.
@KingJames welcome to LA! Friday is sunset rosé, laser facials on Monday. the rest of the week is running into people you don't like at soho house
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) July 2, 2018
How Dan Gilbert Reacted To Lebron Leaving
Cleveland Cavaliers Dan Gilbert's relationship with James has been somewhat tumultuous ever since James left the team the first time back in 2010. Gilbert's feelings about LeBron's departure are well-documented after the owner wrote an open letter to fans lambasting their hero for leaving Cleveland. Gilbert called the move "bitterly disappointing" after calling James' national TV announcement "The Decision" a "narcissistic, self-promotional build-up."
The words "cowardly," "betrayal" and "heartless" were also thrown around by Gilbert in describing James.
Gilbert even promised fans that the city would win a championship before "the self-titled former 'King' wins one." A bold statement for Gilbert to make for his teams that went a combined 97-215 in James' absence. It only took LeBron two seasons before winning his first title in 2011 with the Miami Heat.
Gilbert had much kinder words for LeBron the second time around after he penned another letter to the King himself. He personally thanked LeBron for breaking the championship drought that had plagued Cleveland since 1964 and for delivering on his promise to bring home a title to city.
"None of this would have happened if LeBron James did not agree to come back home and lead the Cavaliers to the promised land. The entire Cavaliers franchise thanks LeBron for that precious moment and for all of the excitement he delivered as he led our team to four straight NBA Finals appearances," Gilbert wrote.
The owner seems to have learned from his mistakes, but he might just be covering his bases to avoid an another awkward reunion if LeBron would ever want to return back to Cleveland.
LeBron James' Message To Cleveland Fans
LeBron himself had a message for Cleveland fans after he announced he would not be returning to Cavaliers. In an Instagram story post, James thanks Northeast Ohio for the past four seasons and says the area will always be home. The text is overlayed on a picture from the Cavaliers' 2016 victory parade after the team won the title.
Economic Impact Of Lebron's Move
James' might be valued at
but the effect he has on the city he plays in is worth significantly more.
LeBron brings fans to the stands, and that means more money going back into a city's economy. A report from the American Enterprise Institute that studied LeBron's effect on the restaurants around American Airlines Arena during his days with the Miami Heat found his presence alone increased the number of establishments around the arena by 13% and employment by 23.5%. His return to Cleveland alone led to a nine-figure bump to the economy.
Sports can be a major source of revenue for a city, but rarely does one athlete churn out as much business as LeBron does. Outside of the ticket and jersey sales he brings in, LeBron creates a sense of excitement and fervor that makes people want to spend money to see him and by association, the businesses that are close to him.
The economic impact he is expected to generate for Los Angeles comes out at just under $397 million and 2,989 new jobs over a five-year period, according to a study from FormSwift. Conversely, based on the same report, Cleveland will lose out on more than $170 million and $9.8 million in tax revenue. The city will also potentially lose out on 1,522 jobs.