Talking LeBron with the Cavs fan who might (or might not) have brought James home
James Blair, the LeBron James mega-fan who ran onto the court at Quicken Loans Arena in March 2013 wearing a shirt asking James to come back to Cleveland, caught up with SI.com this month to talk about James, the Cavs and the iconic moment when he stormed the court.
Below is the content of the email correspondence, edited lightly for clarity:
It’s been over four years since you ran onto the court during the Cavs-Heat game. Is that still your claim to fame? I would have to agree I guess it is considered my "claim to fame" even though that was never the intention out of it. I would like to say that my claim to fame is my high school valedictorian speech, something I did for a charity or helped an individual, but that definitely is what people recognize me or know me by.
What motivated you to run onto court in first place? Love of Cavs? Love of LeBron? Too much alcohol? I'd have to say a combination of the first two. I definitely had no alcohol in me, I was completely sober and just had a plan. That plan was to send LeBron a message directly that night. I didn't care if it ever made the news or was seen by anyone outside of the people in that arena; my only goal was to have my message reach LeBron that night. I saw the backlash LeBron received after the decision and the media was running with nothing but negative headlines about him and our fans. But I knew for me and many others it was a mask of the hurt people felt to not have Bron and be on top like we were. I wanted to send a message to LeBron that there are still fans here that support you and if you wanted to ever make a return (2014 the next year was the earliest he could) we could forgive.
There was a moment where it appeared LeBron gave you a pat on the head. Did he say anything? That's just the type of guy LeBron is, he is an extremely humble individual, and I think that side showed by his actions to go out of his way to acknowledge me in that instance. He didn't have time to really talk given the circumstances. I just remember him basically coming over sort of telling security to hold on by reaching out for a handshake then patting me on the head and saying I respect that.
I know you and LeBron have spoken since the incident? What was that like? Was it a one-time thing? It wasn't like a one on-one-conversation or sit-and-chat kind of thing. I still am hoping for that opportunity someday even for five minutes, but more of a run in. The situation was in Miami right after they had won the championship, and I had been there for the final two games. We were both at the same club celebrating the win and we crossed paths. He saw me and remembered me and we kind of laughed for a second and we just said what's up and gave each other a salute hand gesture.
You were initially hit with a lifetime ban from Cavs games at The Q. Did you get any official notification of the ban? Did you ever try and go back? If so, what happened? It was actually a lifetime ban from the arena entirely so concerts and all events, not just Cavs games, but yeah, that was given to me right away. I tried to appeal it initially but that didn't get accepted. But no, I never tried to go back I respected the outcome that I brought upon myself. It was definitely extremely hard that was the first year since early 2000 I wasn't able to attend a single game, and I also had to miss a Justin Bieber concert that July as well which I was looking forward to.
Do you think your appearance on the court influenced LeBron’s decision to return to Cleveland? This is something people tell me all the time. So many people come up to me and say, "I truly believe you're the reason," or "You brought LeBron back." As much as I appreciate the kind words my answer is always the same and that is thank you, but I don't believe I had anything to do with it. This is something I truly feel! Deep down since "The Decision," I told people I know he will come back. I didn't just think this, I knew it. I always said, "It's not a matter of if, it's when," and I am just glad the when was sooner than later. The only thing I think I did that night was remind him of the crazy passion us Cleveland fans hold and put out; I know every city says it, but it's truly different here, and the fans are like no other! I know I was the first to show that attitude of accepting and wanting a return and got the ball rolling, but lots of people felt that way they just weren't ready to show it!
Your ban was lifted after about 18 months. Did the team inform you of this? Have you been to many games since? This was another fun little story. So LeBron had announced his decision to return, and I was ecstatic like everyone else, but in back of my mind the ban was still there. It couldn't have been more than a week or so after he announced it and a couple local news people in Vegas for summer league had apparently asked/heard the Cavs were going to be reaching out to me and started publishing my ban was lifted etc. I had all these places calling me asking if I was excited, but the thing was I was still banned. and I hadn't heard from anyone about it so I was so confused. Short time went by and they eventually did reach out and went through a process. I received an official letter a little before training camp saying my ban was officially lifted!
Do people still talk about this with you? Is it your claim to fame? Yeah it definitely isn't as much as when it initially happened and when he returned but it still does and people love to talk about it and are always apologize for asking questions about it hahaha. I don't mind sharing though. I am a people person; I can talk to anyone and everyone, so that just is a common thing that gets us chatting and usually leads into more in-depth current Cleveland sports talk.
Do you have a finals prediction? Any team with LeBron can never be counted out! It definitely won't be easy; if they can steal one of the first two games I can see Cleveland winning in six, maybe seven. It won't be an easy task by any means though.