pa.press.net
Updated: Thu, 31 May 2012 19:49:38 GMT | By pa.press.net

USA: LeBron James

Born: 30/12/1984


Lebron James in action for Team USA at Beijing 2008. (© Press Association)

Lebron James in action for Team USA at Beijing 2008.

Born: 30/12/1984

Place of birth: Akron, USA

Event: Basketball

Previous Olympics: 2

Previous medals: 2

If LeBron James ever wants to be welcome in Cleveland again, his only hope might be Olympic glory with the United States.

For a player widely regarded as the finest basketball player of his generation - some even say his talent is equal to that of the legendary Michael Jordan - James has managed to make himself a remarkably unpopular figure in most corners of his homeland.

Nowhere is that more true than in his hometown itself, where Cavaliers fans have never forgiven his decision to leave the team as a free agent in 2010 and sign for Miami. Considering the level of vitriol now directed towards James, they probably never will.

It wasn't just the fact that he left - giving up on the idea of making the Cavs a championship-calibre team in the fashion Jordan lifted the Bulls, instead seeking a quick fix with the star-laden Heat - but the way that he did it.

James' ill-advised live television show, 'The Decision', in which he effectively toyed with fans' emotions before announcing his move to Miami, earned him scorn from coast to coast.

He got little sympathy when the move failed to pay off straight away as the Heat lost 4-2 to Dallas in last year's finals, keeping the 27-year-old waiting for his first NBA championship.

But the international arena still offers James redemption. His exploits in helping the United States to gold in Beijing seem to be largely forgotten given everything that has happened since, but he could one day eclipse the two gold medals that Jordan managed during his career.

Anything less than gold is seen as failure for the Americans, both at home and abroad, but James knows it is not that simple, having been part of the team that took bronze in Athens in 2004 - the first US team made up of NBA players to fail to take gold.

But playing a starring role in reaffirming the United States' place as the kings of the court could mean that maybe, just maybe, James will be able to turn his ratings around.

Well, everywhere outside of Cleveland, at least.