CLEVELAND – There was no eye contact, nothing to indicate reconciliation. The breakup of LeBron James and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was beyond bitter.
But now, as James considers a return to the team he abandoned four years ago with an entire region breathlessly awaiting a homecoming it couldn’t imagine in its wildest dreams, it appears there has been some healing between the NBA superstar and his former boss.
Once aligned as basketball partners, James and Gilbert could barely stand the sight of each other during Miami’s games in Cleveland the past four years. It was an intense standoff, awkward and seemingly irreparable.
Time might have fixed their fractured relationship.
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Most of the rest of the city has already forgiven James, a free-agent forward.
Cleveland, without a major sports championship to celebrate in almost 50 years, is hoping for a reunion.
James, who is from Akron, Ohio, is giving serious thought to returning to the area, to making amends with Cleveland for the one misstep in an impeccable NBA career. Tuesday is the four-year anniversary of James announcing he was “taking my talents to South Beach,” and the city is once again on hold.
James is set to meet with Heat president Pat Riley, who was able to lure the four-time league most valuable player to Miami in 2010 but could be running out of time to convince him to stay.
James holds all the cards.
It was the same four years ago, when James ended his seven-year run in Cleveland by linking with All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The “Big 3” went on to win two titles and appear in four straight NBA Finals, getting crushed by San Antonio this year.
The trio could be splitting up. Wade and Bosh have been waiting to see what James will do.
When James left the Cavaliers for the Heat, Gilbert wrote a letter to Cleveland fans, condemning James for a “shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own.”
• Miami reportedly has agreed on deals with free-agent forwards Josh McRoberts (four years, $23 million) and Danny Granger (two years, $4.2 million).
McRoberts, 27, has played for Charlotte and Granger, 31, ended last season with the Los Angeles Clippers.
• Forward Channing Frye reportedly has agreed to a four-year, $32 million offer sheet to sign with the Orlando Magic. Frye, 31, opted out of the $6.8 million he would have made in the final season of his contract with Phoenix to become a free agent.
• Ex-Washington Huskies standout C.J. Wilcox, the 28th player taken in last month’s draft, will not compete for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Summer League because of an injured right shoulder.
• Charlotte rookie guard P.J. Hairston is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 8 on misdemeanor charges of assault and battery after an altercation at a pickup game Sunday in Durham, N.C.
Hairston, 21, apologized to the team and its fans for “creating a distraction.”
Kentrell Barkley, a 17-year-old senior at North Durham High School, said in court documents Hairston “punched him twice in the head” during a scuffle.
• A neurologist testified that Clippers owner Donald Sterling likely has Alzheimer’s disease as a trial over the $2 billion sale of the franchise started in Los Angeles.
The trial will determine whether Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, was authorized under a family trust to single-handedly make a deal to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Donald Sterling, 80, is expected to testify Tuesday.