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Tuesday, August 3, 2010
LeBron James thanks Akron in ad

ESPN.com news services

LeBron James has taken out a full-page ad in his hometown paper in which he thanks the people of Akron, Ohio, for supporting him -- and doesn't mention the city where he played basketball the last seven years.

The ad, appearing in the Akron Beacon Journal, includes photos of James taking part in community events in Akron, including an annual downtown bike-a-thon he sponsors. That event is scheduled for Saturday, and James plans to appear.

James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat as a free agent last month, joining Olympic teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The move set off a storm of negative reaction from Cavaliers fans and team owner Dan Gilbert, who sent off a scathing letter vowing to win a title before James does.

Two days ago, former Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas -- who signed with the Heat July 17 -- took out a full-page ad in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, thanking fans for their support. Ilgauskas, like James, had played his entire career in Cleveland before signing with Miami.

In James' ad, he thanks Akron residents for their love and support. He calls the city his home and the "central focus" of his life and says he will always come back.

"It was here where I first learned how to play basketball, and where I met the people who would become my lifelong friends and mentors. Their guidance, encouragement and support will always be with me," reads James' ad in the Beacon Journal.

"Akron is my home, and the central focus of my life. It's where I started, and it's where I will always come back to. You can be sure that I will continue to do everything I can for this city, which is so important to my family and me. Thank you for your love and support. You mean everything to me."

About 35 miles to the north in Cleveland, the feelings are not so warm and fuzzy.

In Cleveland sporting goods stores, anti-James T-shirts have become popular, including one that says "We Are All Quitnesses." That's a bitter nod to a gigantic downtown mural -- since taken down -- that featured James with his arms outstretched after tossing powder into the air under the heading: "We Are All Witnesses."

And last week, a baseball fan wearing a Heat jersey with James' name on it was escorted out of a Cleveland Indians game after he was pelted with beer and peanuts by angry spectators.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.