At End of a Memorable Era, Cleveland Takes Down Its Giant LeBron James Banner - NBC Bay Area

At End of a Memorable Era, Cleveland Takes Down Its Giant LeBron James Banner

Fans took a few final photos in front of the banner that represented a celebrated era that saw an end to Cleveland's 52-year sports title drought

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cleveland Removes LeBron James Banner

    What goes up, must come down in Cleveland, where workers removed a giant banner of former Cavalier LeBron James Tuesday July 3, 2018. (Published Tuesday, July 3, 2018)

    Marking the end of an era in Cleveland, workers are removing a giant banner of former Cavalier LeBron James that became part of the city's landscape during the three-time NBA champion's storybook return to his home state of Ohio.

    Fans snapped a few final pictures in front of the downtown Cleveland banner, installed on the side of a building in 2014 when James returned to the Cavaliers after winning two NBA titles in four seasons with the Miami Heat. A previous version of the billboard-style banner was removed after James left Cleveland the first time in 2010.

    Sherwin-Williams said in a statement that it was "evaluating other options" for replacing the James banner on its global headquarters, WKYC reported.

    The 33-year-old forward has agreed to a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. This is the third time in eight years James has changed teams.

    After bolting from Cleveland in 2010, he returned in an emotional homecoming four years later, determined to make the Cavs champions. James had previously said he wanted to finish his career in Ohio, and although he's leaving again, Cavs fans are more forgiving after he ended the city's 52-year sport title drought in 2016.

    Shortly after the announcement about his LA move, James posted a three-photo tribute to Cleveland fans on his Instagram account.

    "Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible four seasons," James wrote. "This will always be home."

    But there will always be a portion of Cleveland fans disappointed that James left again and that he wouldn't give the Cavs a longer commitment. His deal with the Lakers is his longest since he signed for six years with Miami in 2010.

    And unlike eight years ago when he ripped James for leaving, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert thanked him. Gilbert opened his comments by referring to Cleveland's 2016 title as "a championship that united generations of Clevelanders, both living and passed."

    "LeBron, you came home and delivered the ultimate goal," Gilbert said in a statement. "Nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform. We look forward to the retirement of the famous (hash)23 Cavs jersey one day down the line..."

    On Friday, James informed the Cavs that he was not exercising his $35.6 million option and becoming a free agent. While in Los Angeles following a family vacation, he spoke to Cavs general manager Koby Altman moments after free agency opened on Sunday, and it appears that was more a courtesy than a chance for Cleveland to make one last pitch.

    Cleveland's roster was exposed during this year's finals, and James may not have seen a way for it to improve enough to win a fourth title.

    James gave Cleveland something to remember in his final season. He played in all 82 regular-season games and then somehow carried a team that underwent several transformations to a fourth straight conference title and matchup against the Warriors.

    As has been the case in the past, James didn't have enough help as the Cavs were swept, dropping him to 3-6 in the NBA Finals -- a record sometimes used to compare him to Michael Jordan.

    His stay with the Cavaliers will best be remembered for 2016, when he rallied the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit in the finals to stun the Warriors. James helped seal a Game 7 win with a chase-down block of Andre Iguodala, the signature moment of a career that has shown no signs of decay.

    The 14-time All-Star is ranked seventh on the NBA's all-time list with 31,038 points. James is also fourth in scoring average at 27.2 points.