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LeBron James

When LeBron James returned to Cleveland for a Cavs vs. Heat game in December 2010, fans found ways of expressing their feelings.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It isn't easy being a Cleveland Cavaliers fan. In four decades, the NBA franchise has come oh-so-close but never won a championship, and put together more losing years than winning ones.

But the basketball gods smiled on the Cavs in 2003. They drafted local hero and certified superstar LeBron James straight out of St Vincent-St. Mary High School, where he took his team to three championships and earned just about every national award available to prep school players. Led by "King James," the Cavs made the playoffs every year from 2006-2010. In 2007, they went all the way to the finals.

But in 2010, impatient for a championship, LeBron began entertaining offers from other teams. Four franchises courted him, grandly and generously, including the Cavaliers. In a much publicized, made-for-TV event called "The Decision," he famously declared, "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat."

In Cleveland, Cavaliers fans burned their LeBron James jerseys in the street. They changed the slogan of Nike's LeBron James advertising campaign, "Witness," into a sneer: "Quitness." The team's owner predicted "bad karma" for James for his "shameful display of selfishness and betrayal."

And the tattoo? That's something else LeBron took to South Beach, a single word in rolling script, written near his heart: Loyalty.

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