LeBron James & # 39; s new school in Akron offers a first class of 240 third- and fourth-graders.  The front of the IPS on West Market Street became a party with bleachers, music recordings and live performances, and the city's ubiquitous "Goodyear" badge circled above them. Older students who were already part of the James I Promise program, with which they work for free studies at the University of Akron, occurred.
Most of the recorded music was played to the young crowd. But when James and his mother Gloria held up the US and IPS flags toward the end of the ceremony, the Hall & Oates hit "You Make My Dreams" boomed out of the sound system.
"A lot of emotions," James said. Sharing the moments as he drove through familiar streets to school. No, he said he did not need directions.
"I walked that street, I went north, I always walked down Silver Street … I remember when McDonald's opened it next door, it was like A Disneyland for us as children, come and open with a McDonalds. "
With the children on hand, in the middle of the summer in a non-NBA city, Monday's scene was a dramatic update, still reminiscent of that evening eight years in Connecticut. James, much younger and much less self-confident, sat across from the announcer Jim Gray on National television, restless and uncomfortable, while the children of the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club provided an unpleasant setting on a clumsy night.
The NBA Superstar announced its startling decision then to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to pursue championships with the Miami Heat, and the league – especially its corner in northeastern Ohio – went a little crazy.
This time his decision to leave Cleveland was three weeks old. This time, James's presence at the IPS celebration was really about the kids. And frankly, the fact that he'll soon be playing his basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers seemed OK, not trivial, but much less important and hardly traumatic, against Monday's Monday rally.
This was above all the first opportunity for James to publicly discuss his decision to end his 2014 homecoming after four seasons and go to LA He had avoided interviews before and did not attend Team USA Minicamp in Las Vegas last week ,
So in a media session after In The Last Bell on Monday, James first talked about this recent stint and helped the Cavs out in four finals and the 2016 NBA title.
"I can sit here in two seconds and say that it was a Huckuva Run, "he said. "My first year when I came here [back] I did not think we could even fight for a championship and we took the Warriors to Game 6 and lost our All-Star Point Guard [Kyrie Irving] and our All-Star Power Forward [Kevin Love] in the same playoff run.
"Then next year to come back and win break … the drought – the 50-year drought that this city had to endure – and two more championship runs to do so. It was more than we had imagined.
And now, in what he called "the next step in my journey"
"It is always difficult to make a decision where to uproot, no matter who you are, do it alone or With your family, "said James, who already owned two villas in Southern California and had a low season there with his wife Savannah and their three children in the past.
" It's a bittersweet moment for me. For one thing, you have the school I would like to be here every day. On the other hand, I start a new journey in my life, where I am on the other coast.
As for the election of the Lakers, a proud franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2013 and 12 has been in the last 500 games under James .500 said to James that he has done his due diligence by asking James has commented on all of the other contestants, including Philadelphia, Houston and the Cavs.
His expectations for 2018-19? "
" We do not have anything right now, "James said." But we definitely want better than last year. We want to have championship habits – that does not mean that we win a championship, but it means we perform excellence every day. I expect that not only from myself, but also from my teammates.
"That's what Jeanie [Buss] is, that's Magic [Johnson] that's Rob [Pelinka]," he said, listing the Lakers wind instruments. "That's what Luke [Walton, coach] wants, and we should not sell ourselves, it'll take months if we're really good, there'll be months when we're not that good."
All of this faded to the hard ones James recalled Monday that he grew up in the Moon Street on Akron's West Side while he allegedly visited Harris Elementary on North Hill miles away. "My mother did not have a car and we had no stability day after day where I did not know where I would live," James said. "So I could not even get there."
As a fourth grader, James – the only child of a single mother – missed 83 school days. "School did not mean anything to me," he said. "I just felt like every day I woke up and I had a lot of time of nothing … There were many empty days, empty nights, it was just a kind of" non-future "thought process."
James had a strong group of friends who were catching up with siblings. He rode his bike through the city and developed another sense of loyalty to Akron's neighborhoods. Over time, he had sports and especially basketball, which brought him and these boys friends out of a possible dead end.
Seeing him now at the age of 33, polished and relaxed with a microphone on stage, is seeing someone who has left all the childhood turmoil behind. But also someone who will never forget.
"For children – young children ages seven, eight, nine, ten – the most important thing we can give them is structure," James said. "And a sense of … they just want someone to feel we do not care." They have the dreams, they have the aspirations, they have everything they can achieve in life, they just want to know that somebody cares about them.
"I want these kids to know that they still have the same chance as everyone else, and as adults, we have a responsibility not to let these kids down."
"And no matter if I'm in Los Angeles or not, Akron, Ohio is always my home. Always. "
Many cities, every four summers or so, hope and dream that James decides to play basketball there.
Much more should wish that he was born and raised there.
Steve Aschburner has been writing about the NBA since 1980. You can email him here find his archive here and follow him on Twitter
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