Unlike the last time he was a free agent, LeBron James won’t discuss his future.
He learned that lesson the hard way.
”Experience is the best teacher in life,” said.
Home for the holiday and to play a game against his former team — and in front of fans he spurned — James spent 10 minutes outside Miami’s locker room on Wednesday night discussing his past. He talked about a possible cooling with Cleveland fans, hosting Thanksgiving dinner for his Heat teammates at his nearby mansion, his ever-expanding game and his desire to win another NBA title.
He was an open book. Except about his future.
After seven seasons with Cleveland, James left the Cavaliers three years ago. And with the possibility of the four-time MVP opting out of his contract and hitting the free-agent market again next summer, there is already speculation about where he’ll play next.
What about in Cleveland — again?
”You guys know I’m not talking about free agency right now,” he told a wall-to-wall media throng jamming a hallway inside Quicken Loans Arena before the Cavs hosted the Heat. ”My only concern is to hopefully win a third straight championship, that’s my mind frame right now.”
James’ answer underscores his maturity — on and off the floor — since he played for the Cavs. In his final season with Cleveland, James frequently talked about where he might go. He now understands that was probably a mistake and doesn’t want to make the same one again.
”I’ve grown each and every day,” he said. ”No book can really teach you about life. The best teacher of life is experience and when you experience things it’s how you handle them the next time they come upon you and I’ve been able to do that. Everything is in order. Everything is comfortable and I’m in a good place right now.”
Back for his fifth game in Cleveland, James said it remains a strange sensation to walk into the arena and head straight for the visitor’s locker room.
”It’s still crazy,” he said. ”It’s still weird. I stayed home last night, and I’ll stay home tonight and to be able to drive up to the arena and walk into the first locker room is still weird. But I understand what my job is.”
James and his family are hosting Thanksgiving at his 30,000-square-foot home on Thursday before the Heat travel to Canada to play the Toronto Raptors.
”It was either do it at a hotel or do it at my house, and I would much rather do it at my house,” he said.
Will he be giving tours?
”Only to the bathroom,” he said.
Unlike his previous visits, there wasn’t an air of outward hostility toward James. Most Cleveland fans have accepted that he’s gone and there’s even a group who have launched a ”Come Home LeBron” campaign designed to show the four-time MVP that he would be welcomed back. The group passed out T-shirts outside the arena before tip-off.
”It’s humbling,” James said of the gesture. ”It’s flattering to know you have fans everywhere, and I’m grateful for that.”
This is home for James. On Tuesday, he visited St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, his alma mater, and basketball practice in the gymnasium he recently donated $1 million to have renovated.
James was asked if he felt time has healed and Cleveland fans have forgiven him.
”I have no idea,” he said. ”I haven’t done the whole `Family Feud’ thing where you ask 100 people on the street, `Do you still like LeBron or not?’ I haven’t done that. For me, as a basketball player and as a man, I’ve grown over the years and I can only do one thing and that’s represent my family and do the things that I love to do.”