For the second time in his illustrious career, LeBron James is leaving the team that drafted him.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, just a short drive from James' hometown in Akron, must once again deal with the best player of his generation leaving them for a more exotic town. The Cavaliers will likely enter rebuild mode as they prepare for life without the King.
The Cavs aren't the only program left wondering how to go about life without James. Since his return to Cleveland from Miami in 2014, Ohio State athletics have been very outspoken in their support of the kid from Akron, especially on social media.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) May 30, 2018
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) May 13, 2018
Youre our biggest fan. Were yours too.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) April 15, 2018
The support for James never came a surprise as James has repeatedly supported Ohio State's athletic programs, showing up to football and basketball games in the past. In addition, he has repeatedly supplied the football and basketball teams with athletic gear, most recently turning his Soldier 11 signature shoe into football cleats for the football team.
— Nike.com (@nikestore) October 28, 2017
Don't expect the Buckeyes to sever ties with James. Even when the basketball star was playing for the Miami Heat from 2010-14, he still supported Ohio State athletics, showing up court-side for a basketball game against Duke with longtime friend and teammate Dwyane Wade, donning the scarlet and gray.
Two years later, Urban Meyer and the football program invited James to speak at the Skull Session ahead of a Sept. 28, 2013 contest against Wisconsin. James watched the game from the sidelines and took pictures with the basketball team as Ohio State defeated the Badgers, 31-24. You can watch James' speech, as recorded by The Columbus Dispatch, below.
When James returned to Cleveland in 2014, the Ohio State program made it a point to show its support for the Akron native in every way possible. Meyer showed up court-side at Cavalier playoff games, while the social media department went out of its way to make graphics for James.
James won't stop supporting the Buckeyes despite his departure to Los Angeles, and Ohio State won't stop inviting him back to campus, but don't expect the outpouring of support on social media from OSU as James heads west.
You will notice in the first three tweets listed above that the Ohio State social media team either tags the Cavs or uses its playoff slogan, '#WhateverItTakes' alongside its tagging of James. Ohio State's support of James was just as much about state pride as it was supporting the most prominent sports figure in the country, who also supports them.
If James wants to return to Columbus to watch a game, Ohio State will welcome him back with open arms. James will likely continue to supply the Buckeyes with his freshest athletic wear, and the relationship will continue without much of a hitch. However, when it comes to the social media support and going out of its way to promote James as a university spokesman, expect Ohio State to dial it back a notch.
State pride has been a valuable pitch for Meyer since he returned to Columbus in 2011 to lead the Ohio State program and with James gone, don't expect the outpouring of support for LeBron to be nearly as heavy as it was the last four years.
Sunset on Lake Erie. Wow!Yea Ohio! pic.twitter.com/GDpZ1DLqH5
— Urban Meyer (@OSUCoachMeyer) July 3, 2018