CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James hasn’t had to make a decision this big in years.
The NBA star attended Thursday night’s playoff game between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians along with his Cavaliers teammates, who were at several postseason games a year ago when the Indians got to the World Series.
Back in 2007, James came to Progressive Field for a postseason game wearing a Yankees cap, which he flaunted during the game. He was widely criticized in Cleveland for the move, which came three years before his infamous decision to announce on national TV that he was leaving as a free agent for Miami.
James rooted openly in the playoffs last year for the Indians, speaking to the crowd before one game and flexing for fans in Game 7 of the World Series when Cleveland’s Rajai Davis hit a tying homer in the eighth inning.
Indians manager Terry Francona was reminded that James once pulled for the other side, but was certain he’s changed allegiance.
“I had not remembered that, but I do now,” Francona said, smiling before the series opener. “I’m hopeful that he won’t be (cheering for the Yankees). How’s that? I don’t think I need to be telling LeBron what to do, but I think he’ll be rooting for the Indians.”
New York Game 2 starter CC Sabathia, who spent eight seasons with the Indians, thinks James may be hiding his true feelings.
“I know he’s a Yankee fan,” Sabathia said. “But I think he has to put on a front for the city.”
Wearing a red hooded sweat shirt, James arrived about 30 minutes before the first pitch with teammate Dwyane Wade.
Wade promised to stay neutral. But the star guard, who recently signed with Cleveland after a season in Chicago, said he was eager for some off-the-floor time with his new teammates.
“I’m looking forward to the bonding,” Wade said. “I’m not cheering for one team to win over the other, but I love greatness. Anytime anybody does something great, you applaud them for it. You want to be in that environment. But the biggest thing for us is to be able to bond and support the city. The city, the players, they support you and I’m a part of this organization now, so anytime we get an opportunity to support, you definitely want to do that, so that’s what tonight is about.”
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