Jeff Rich is a Cleveland-born sports fan living in the Arizona desert. His favorite memories include being “in the house” for Game 3 of the 1995 World Series and the Browns fake field goal walk-off win against Minnesota in 1989. Though physically separated from The Land by thousands of miles, Jeff keeps his eye on his hometown by watching the games and interacting with his fellow fans on Twitter (@byjeffrich). You can listen to him every Sunday on Dorf on Sports at SportsByline.com from 11 AM-1 PM (EDT)

What’s in the past, is in the past.  What’s in the present, is a former bandwagon fan and once self-proclaimed King walking among us, rooting for the Cleveland Indians.

We’ve seen LeBron James in the Yankee cap. We’ve seen him rubbing elbows with the Dallas Cowboys before the Browns took on the Cowboys in Cleveland. Worst of all, we watched him walk away to win titles elsewhere.

That’s all in the past now. He returned home and fulfilled his promise to bring a Championship to The Land.

“CLEVELAND! This is for you!”

The best basketball player on the planet has never wavered from his love for Northeast Ohio, even after he took his talents to South Beach. In Akron, that love reciporcated back to LeBron, for the most part.

For the rest of us, our loyalty only went as far as the name on the front of the jersey. We were angry. We weren’t good enough for the almighty king, and neither were any of our favorite teams, including the Cavaliers.

We used that Yankee cap and his insistence on creating a divide between Akron and Cleveland against him. He wasn’t one of us. He was in the same class as the life-long Clevelander that waves a yellow towel on Sundays in the fall. Like I said though, that’s all in the past.

It was in the past when he wrote that letter to us, via Lee Jenkins, in Sports Illustrated, and nearly forgotten by the time he carried the Cavs to their first NBA Finals wins in 2015. They didn’t even win it all, but he’d won me over with a 2-1 lead in series they’d ultimately drop in six games.

I’m sure many will pinpoint June 19th as the day his redemption was complete. Truth be told, it didn’t take reaching the pinnacle. It was coming back that mattered. His need to return home, and maybe not for the fans specifically, replenished his “gets us” points.

Before he even resumed wearing the Wine & Gold laundry, there he was in Las Vegas, sporting an Indians jersey. We’d seen him in a Browns jersey or two before, but it wasn’t the same.

It was an ad for State Farm and it was Manziel, and…well, everything that accompanied the Johnny Football Experience in Cleveland. Have I mentioned that this was all in the past?

These days, we have a different LeBron James. It’s not the one we’re stuck with or the one where we take the good with the bad. He’s the LeBron James we’ve always wanted, more than we could have ever asked him to be.

Perhaps for the first time in his life, he’s something more special than God’s gift to basketball. That’s good enough for people outside of the region, and many within. For some though, we wanted him to truly be one of us.

Next Stop WORLD SERIES!!!! CONGRATS BOYZ @indians #RallyTogether #StriveForGreatness🚀 #TheLand #RWTW🏅

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Maybe it took this run to the World Series, but he’s into the Tribe these days. He’s firing them up before a playoff game, bringing a few familiar faces along with him from next door, and encouraging us all to Rally Together.

Sure, he might experience joy as the Yankee pursue their 28th title or the Cowboys chase down their sixth Super Bowl, but it’s just personal joy for one man. There’s no atmosphere for him to absorb.

To be fair, that atmosphere never existed in Northeast Ohio for his first 31 years on the planet, but he changed that on every level. Winning appears to be contagious in these parts, these days.

Though he’ll busy receiving his third Championship ring as the final chapter of the 2016 Cleveland Indians begins next door on Tuesday night, he will be with them in spirit for sure.

For the sake of all of us, let’s hope LeBron can experience the jubilation from the other side, as a Cleveland, like the rest of us.

He gets us now.