By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) – All, or almost all, is forgiven in Ohio when it comes to LeBron James, who in July returned to the Cleveland team he fled as a free agent in 2010, a poll released on Monday found.
Ohio adults by a 62 percent to 12 percent margin said they forgive James, who was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers from an Akron high school in 2003, but left for Miami in 2010, the Quinnipiac University poll said.
“‘Come back, LeBron. All is forgiven.’ That’s the message from six out of 10 Ohioans on the return of LeBron James,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll.
Twenty-six percent of respondents said they hadn’t heard enough to form an opinion or declined to answer the question.
Many fans in Cleveland, a working-class city on the southern shore of Lake Erie, burned their James jerseys in anger when he left his home state for Miami four years ago.
James, 29, said in July he would return to the Cavaliers with the goal of bringing an NBA championship to Cleveland. The Miami Heat won two NBA championships in his four seasons there.
Forty-one percent said James was worth his multimillion dollar salary and 36 percent said the Cavaliers paid too much for his return, the poll found. Another 23 percent said they did not know or declined to answer.
Quinnipiac surveyed 1,539 Ohio adults from July 24 to July 28. The poll had a 2.5 percentage point margin of error.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey)