Earlier this millennium — that reads and sounds so odd, but not anymore so than using “aughts” — then-Notre Dame assistant Urban Meyer offered a scholarship to All-State wide receiver — and basketball megastar — LeBron James.
The relationship cultivated at that time reaped an appearance by The King at an Ohio State game last season as the Ohio State head coach’s guest.
Friday, the Prodigal King returned home to Ohio after the future basketball Hall of Famer announced he would be re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not so unexpectedly, and after a brief delay relative to Les Miles, Meyer took to Twitter to address the news.
A few hours after that tweet, Meyer spoke to Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer about what, just four short years ago, many thought would’ve been an impossible let alone improbable return. Not surprisingly, Meyer went with what many would consider hyperbole but’s actually closer to reality when it comes to what it means for the state in general and Northeast Ohio specifically.
“When I heard the news, I was like, ‘They’re going to shut down the whole state,'” Meyer, an Ohio native, said. “I’m really happy for Northeast Ohio. Now we’ve got to go get a championship.”
(Writer’s note: a professional sports championship in the city of Cleveland that’s 50 years in the making, by the way.)
(Life-long, 45-year-old Cleveland pro sports fan note: ugh. It’s a slap in the face, punch in the gut, kick in the tentacles to type that.)
James has long been connected to the flagship university in his home state.
On more than one occasion, the hoops star has stated publicly that, if he wouldn’t have jumped to the NBA right out of high school — that pro league has since changed that rule — he would’ve played basketball for the Buckeyes. Hell, he even has his own locker in the OSU men’s basketball team’s locker room.
Given his return to Northeast Ohio, those around the basketball and football programs can expect to see the Chosen One around more and more.
As far as Meyer is concerned, that’s more than fine.
“He’s got an open door,” the coach told the paper. “If he wants to catch a pass, we can probably figure that out, too.”