On the eve of the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals (Cavs vs Atl) I’m reminded just how beautiful Cleveland is to me. I’m reminded of how much of an important role sports, The Cleveland Cavs, and Lebron James play in our city. My city. My home.

We all kind of had our feelings hurt when Lebron left Cleveland for Miami in 2010. Akron was the city that raised him and Cleveland was the city that made him. He has a vested interest in this area. But secretly no one could really fault him for doing what he thought was right. Right? Remember Amy Poehler’s line: “good for you, not for me”?

We all felt deflated. Angry. Our city had the chance to be something but it lost it when Lebron left. Or did we?

Just like when you’re in a bad relationship and you break up, you realize that (sometimes) a lot of your identity was rooted in that other person. Cleveland became Lebron James. And when he left the city was left scratching it’s head of what to do next. How do we keep our name on the map now?

But then on that fated July day last year, Lebron announced he was coming home. (I remember I was checking twitter for live updates that entire day…along with the rest of the world…on what his decision was going to be).

And Cleveland celebrated. There was a sigh of relief and then a cheer. The King is coming back.

Lebron James is one of the highest paid athletes in the world right now. #3 according to Forbes, just behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Floyd Mayweather. He’s a superstar. And he is Cleveland.

Last year Nike released this commercial:

And it was absolutely beautiful. Cleveland is rallying behind you, Lebron. Do it for us. Because we believe in you. Because we love this city just as much as you do. Because your greatness makes us great too.

Here’s the home opener introduction:

Without having been there, I can still feel the excitement of Lebron’s return home.

And it makes me proud.

It makes me proud to be from Cleveland. The city my father defended as a police officer for more than 40 years. The city I live in right now.

Cleveland was built by working class blue collar workers. We’re industrious. We’re scrappy.

This is Cleveland.