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LeBron James sprung to his feet and screamed along with thousands of delirious Cleveland fans.

When Indians outfielder Rajai Davis connected off Chicago Cubs reliever Aroldis Chapman for a tying home run in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kolton-miller-jersey , James came unglued and reacted the way he might after a monstrous dunk or back-breaking 3-pointer in the NBA Finals.

And while his fanatical response said a lot about James and his allegiance to the Indians, so did the tight, black T-shirt he wore on that unseasonably warm November night.

It said: ”Cleveland Or Nowhere.”

As the sports world waits to see where the three-time champion intends to play next season and beyond, there remains the real possibility that James could choose to stay in Cleveland, his hoops home for 11 of the past 15 years and where this Northeast Ohio son shares a unique and profound connection with fans who have followed him since his teens.

James has other options: Los Angeles (salary-cap space for another star, Magic Johnson in charge), Houston (a chance to play on a super team with MVP James Harden), Philadelphia (young stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid), and maybe more.

But, as has always been the case for James, home will pull at his heart.

For the longest time, the perception was that once James ended Cleveland’s 52-year title drought in 2016, he would leave again as soon as he could. That doesn’t seem to be a slam dunk any longer.

By Friday, James is expected to make his first move and likely decline a $35.6 million contract option for next season with the Cavs, who are hoping their past loyalties to the 33-year-old and his own sentimental attachments – family, legacy – will keep him in Cleveland.

Unlike his free-agency forays in 2010 and 2014, James will not meet with prospective teams. He’s letting agent Rich Paul and his other representatives handle the business side of things as he vacations with family and makes up his mind.

Months ago, James’ connection with the Cavs seemed broken, hopeless. Last summer’s shocking trade of All-Star Kyrie Irving http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jason-sanders-jersey , the team’s failed attempt to integrate guard Isaiah Thomas, a lack of playmakers, assorted injuries and coach Tyronn Lue’s medical issues contributed to James appearing ready to pull up stakes again and pursue championships elsewhere.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the NBA Finals.

James was boosted by general manager Koby Altman’s drastic-and-dramatic roster overhaul at the trading deadline, and despite a lack of cohesion and Vegas odds makers labeling the Cavs as underdogs, Cleveland advanced to a fourth straight summer showdown with Golden State, surviving two Game 7s and sweeping the top-seeded Toronto Raptors along the way.

Of course, James did all the heavy lifting. He played in all 82 regular-season games and had perhaps his best postseason, averaging 34 points, 9.1 rebounds and 9.0 assists while making a pair of buzzer-beating shots and doing all he could in a Finals sweep that could have been much different if Cleveland had not lost Game 1 in overtime.

”He gave his heart and soul, die-hard energy, commitment to this team, to this franchise, to the city, to Northeast Ohio,” Altman said last week after the Cavs drafted Alabama guard Collin Sexton, who quickly raised some eyebrows by choosing to wear No. 2, Irving’s number for six seasons with Cleveland. ”It was an historical year and probably one of the best postseason runs of all time. We’re very, very fortunate to have him here and what he gave to this franchise this year was nothing short of remarkable.

”We don’t take that for granted at all.”

And it’s why the Cavs haven’t surrendered from the fight to keep him.

Owner Dan Gilbert, whose relationship with James remains tricky if not rocky Arden Key Jersey Raiders , has displayed a willingness to spend whatever’s necessary to keep his team championship competitive. That’s unlikely to change whether James extends his second stint with Cleveland.

In a recent Business Insider podcast, Gilbert referred to James as a ”partner,” an acknowledgment by the billionaire to what the superstar he once criticized means to his franchise.

The appeal for James to stay home is different now than it was eight years ago when he bolted for Miami. He’s more mature, with three children and a burgeoning business empire. His priorities, responsibilities and goals are different.

After the Warriors finished their Finals sweep of the Cavs, James revealed an injured right hand but an unchanged view of the next phase of his career.

”I will still continue to be in championship mode,” he said. ”When I decide what I’m going to do with my future, my family and the folks that have been with me for the last 20 years will have a say-so. Then it ultimately will come down to me.”



At heart, Ernie Barnes the professional football player was always Ernie Barnes the artist.

His teammates on the San Diego Chargers nicknamed him "Big Rembrandt" because he was always scribbling on pieces of paper.

He ended up painting vivid and highly acclaimed images from the playing field and from African-American life. He's most famous for "Sugar Shack," which shows African-Americans dancing at the Durham Armory. Marvin Gaye used a version of it for an album cover, and a print of it appeared in the closing credits of the sitcom "Good Times."

Now, an exhibit has opened in his home state titled "The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes." The exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History includes 38 paintings by Barnes, many unseen by the public until now, along with several pieces of memorabilia.

It's the first exhibit of Barnes' artwork in 11 years, and the first since he died at age 70 in 2009 in Los Angeles. It continues through March 3.

Barnes never considered football his true calling. From his childhood, he was drawn to art. In his 1995 autobiography, "From Pads to Palette," he wrote, "Throughout my five seasons in the arena of professional football Authentic Darius Leonard Jersey , I remained at the deepest level of my being an artist."

But he played professionally from 1960 to 1964, signing first with the Baltimore Colts and then with the Titans of New York, the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos. His sports connections led to his first exhibit through the support of New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin. And Barnes credited football with helping him develop the elongation technique for which he's known.

An art instructor told him "to pay attention to what my body felt like in movement," Barnes once said. "And when I did that, it was an elongated feeling. ... I hate to think, had I not played sports, what my work would look like."

He also spoke of how the "dehumanization" of professional football played out in his art. "I painted until I exhausted the hate," he said, according to comments provided by his estate.

Troy Vincent, the NFL's vice president of operations, is probably the largest collector of Barnes' art and someone in whom Barnes confided about his love-hate relationship with football. Vincent estimates that he owns just shy of 30 Barnes' paintings, most of them commissioned and never seen by the public.

In a phone interview, Vincent said that he and his wife "didn't classify it as black art. He happens to be African-American, but it's not black art. It's art."

At the time of Barnes' death, Paul Von Blum, an art history and African American studies professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, called him one of the premier figurative artists of his era.

Barnes, who was born in 1938 in Durham during the Jim Crow era http://www.buccaneersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-ryan-jensen-jersey , graduated from what's now North Carolina Central University. His painting, "Homecoming," shows a marching band in Durham with U.S. 15-501 signs in the background.

"Ernie said when he was growing up, the high school band used to come down from the segregated area and make the turn into the black community, and the band would kick it up right there," Luz Rodriguez, his longtime assistant and estate trustee said last week in Raleigh before the exhibit opened. "So that's what he painted."

"Sugar Shack" came from Barnes' memories growing up in Durham, Rodriguez said. His mother had told the 13-year-old Barnes that "they don't do Christian things there" so of course he had to sneak in to find out what was happening, she said.

Actor and comedian Eddie Murphy owns the painting now, exhibit curator Katie Edwards said. A second version that Barnes painted is part of the North Carolina museum exhibit.

Barnes could bring to life "the hopes and dreams of what could be 鈥?families together, strong men, strong women, the true representation of the godly family," Vincent said. Barnes was able to "share our dark past yet articulate in color what the future could be 鈥?the proudness of our history, the proudness of our future. Ernie encapsulated all of that."
Follow Martha Waggoner on Twitter at ://mjwaggonernc

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