Heat fans disappointed, hopeful after loss of LeBron James - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Heat fans disappointed, hopeful after loss of LeBron James

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The defaced Miami Heat mural in Wynwood. The defaced Miami Heat mural in Wynwood.
940 WINZ talk show host Andy Slater. 940 WINZ talk show host Andy Slater.
Ohio native Rebekah Gantt being interviewed by 7News reporter Kevin Ozebek. Ohio native Rebekah Gantt being interviewed by 7News reporter Kevin Ozebek.
What used to be called "The Bron" burger has been rechristened "The Gone." What used to be called "The Bron" burger has been rechristened "The Gone."

MIAMI (WSVN) -- LeBron James' decision to return to Ohio to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers may have left many Miami Heat fans disillusioned, but others said they are hopeful for the future of the team.

Revenue collected from James' announcement that he will come to Miami back in 2010 helped rebuild Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the country, including one in Miami, but in a story released by Sports Illustrated Friday afternoon, James said he will be returning to where his NBA career began.

As the day went on, emotions were mixed from Heat fans, from mad and heartbroken to understanding and simply glad he was a member of the Heat.

Irate fans took to call-in radio shows to vent their frustration. "If ... it's all about winning championships, this has to be the greatest smear on his reputation," said a caller at a local radio show on 940 WINZ in Miami.

"We signed a bunch of posters saying, 'LeBron, stay,' and he left, so I know we're all pretty upset," said a woman disappointed with LeBron's decision.

Heat fan Phillip Hadjisoteriou said he empathizes with LeBron. "I respect his decision, you know," he said. "He obviously wants to do what he wants to do and good luck to him. You can't hold him to play for us forever. I don't know what happened behind the scenes, but all the best to him."

Hadjisoteriou said Heat fans should not feel upset at James. "All the best to him. He's done so much to Miami. You can't say bad things about him now that he's leaving. You have to respect what he's given to the team and then move on."

This is not the first time James has broken his fans' hearts. In 2010, the NBA superstar left the Cavaliers to join the Heat, inciting anger and prompting bitter admirers to declare him Enemy Number 1. Some fans even filmed themselves burning James' jersey.

By all accounts, James' first game in Cleveland with the Heat was a total circus. Now, however, the Akron native is coming home after four years in Miami that resulted in four NBA Finals appearances and two back-to-back championships.

For WINZ radio show host Andy Slater, it's best for Miami Heat fans to take the news in stride. "We can be upset, we can be disappointed, but we shouldn't be mad," he said on the air, "because what we had here for the last four years were four NBA Finals that the Miami Heat were in, and if LeBron James isn't here in the last four years, in South Florida, we're not in the NBA Finals."

At the Clevelander Hotel on South Beach, Heat fans wondered why James would turn his back on the tropical weather that came with having joined the Miami team. "I can't wait for the gam, Miami against Cleveland, and let's see what's happening now," said Clevelander visitor Alexander Deiser.

Heat fan Brandon Saunders could not wait to use the word that's been trending on social media. "While LeBron was here, he did his thing, so he's 'LeGone,'" he said.

#LeGoneJames has gone viral in the virtual world, and in the real world as well, at least in South Florida. One Coral Gables restaurant used to be the home of "The Bron," a burger named after the basketball player. On Friday, a customer taped a "G" over the "BR" on the menu.

The irony that the Clevelander was originally built as a place for Ohioans to come during the winter was not lost on some of the people that came to the Ocean Drive hotel on Friday to enjoy the weather. With her red Ohio State University towel spread out by the Clevelander's pool, Rebekah Gantt stuck out like a sore thumb. "I'm a Cavs fan, diehard," she said.

When Gantt, an Ohio native currently living in Miami, was asked whether James will miss the warm South Florida weather, she said, "maybe ... It's beautiful here. I'm not going to lie."

Deiser, however, said he knows for sure James will miss Miami living. In fact, his four-year tenure in the Heat is already starting to feel hazy. "He's gone. We are talking about whom?" he said. "What is the name?"

In Wynwood, someone painted over LeBron's face on a huge Miami Heat mural. As Heat fan Gary Garcia walked by, the sight reminded him of how he felt the moment he first heard of LeBron's departure. "I feel like my heart was ripped out of my chest, but you know, time heals," he said. "Everything heals with time."

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