CLEVELAND — White Sox manager Robin Ventura was talking a leisurely stroll downtown when the news broke that LeBron James was returning to the Cavaliers.
Though he has spent the majority of his baseball life in the WindyCity, Ventura said he’ll never forget the reaction on the streets of Cleveland.
“It was a fun walk to the ballpark, everyone was smiling and so happy,” the 20-year MLB veteran said Friday at Progressive Field. “You couldn’t help but feel good for everyone here. I’m also happy for LeBron to have the chance to come home.
“I’ll tell you how much these people love their teams in Cleveland. I was asked to take a picture by a guy with his hand-made ‘Welcome back, LeBron’ sign. I didn’t think that was a good idea being from Chicago, but I thanked him for the offer.”
Ventura was one of myriad sports and entertainment figures who felt compelled to comment about James’ homecoming. A sampling of the voices:
“I love Cleveland. I feel like I’m 5 years old and I just got the best gift in the world. We have a pretty good chance at a championship.” — Cavaliers power forward Anderson Varejao via CBS Sports Radio
“Congrats to King James and his family. What’s better than going home for the right reasons? I’m happy for Cleveland, the Cavs, and their fans.” — Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari via Twitter
“It is a great redemption story, and I’m happy for Cleveland. They now have a guy at the top of his career who wants to be there and can go out and win them a championship.” — TNT analyst David Aldridge via NBA TV
“I am shocked and disappointed in today’s news. However, I will never forget what LeBron brought us for four years. Thanks for the memories, King James.” — Miami Heat owner Micky Arison via press release
“That’s what I’m talking about King James. I’m turnt times 100. I just asked my wife to pinch me. The city is about to be so live.” — Browns cornerback Joe Haden via Twitter
“I’m happy that our city is happy, King James. Cleveland forever. I’m rockin’ with the city through whatever.” — rapper Machine Gun Kelly via Twitter
“Congratulations to Cleveland. What a great day for basketball fans. This was the most fun story of all the possible stories.” — ESPN analyst and “Book of Basketball” author Bill Simmons via Twitter
“Wow. King James back to Cleveland. Anyone would give their hottest ex a second chance.” — Sirius XM morning disc jockey Rich Davis via Twitter
“So excited for the city of Cleveland. King James back on the throne. Let’s go to work fam.” — former Browns kickoff returner Joshua Cribbs via Twitter
“The STVM community has a special place in its heart for LeBron, where he remains Irish 23 forever. Welcome home, God bless, and Go Irish.” — Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary president Tom Carone via press release
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.