Story of the Week: Homecoming for LeBron, Melo and D-Wade

Home is where the heart is. It’s where your story starts. It’s where everybody knows your name (yes that’s from “Cheers” but, you know what I’m saying). Home is also one thing you can’t write into a contract. And in the last week, it was the intangible factor that shook the NBA.

First it was LeBron James, then it was Carmelo Anthony, and Tuesday it was Dwyane Wade telling the world how good it felt to be staying at home to play basketball.

Home can be hard to define. It’s not always where you were born, where you went to high school or where you’ve lived the longest. Sometimes it’s just a feeling. Wade demonstrated this best in his decision.

“Home Is Where The Heart Is… My Home, My City, My House...#HeatLifer,” Wade posted on Instagram.

The Chicago native calls Miami home because it’s where he matured for 11 years and where he joined the three-time championship club. His NBA legacy will forever reside in his Miami home.

Carmelo Anthony lived in New York until he was 8 years old and is better known for honing his skills in Baltimore, but he still feels a deep connection to the Big Apple. At a recent Jordan Brand event, Anthony said there are two times he’s felt “the chills” in his life. One was meeting Muhammad Ali and the other was while watching an homage video at his first game as a New York Knick in Madison Square Garden.

Still, things aren’t likely going to be the same on the players’ home courts. The New York that Melo knew now has even higher expectations with winners Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher at the helm. The New York crowd will be even quicker to condemn his play.

Wade will carry a heavier load on a weaker knee in a town known for fair-weather fandom.

LeBron is returning to a wounded Cleveland that will undoubtedly shower him in adoration and forgiveness but will likely never forget how he hurt fans there.

“LeBron can’t go home again,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said in a TIME guest column. “At least not to the home he once knew. They may be grateful and joyful, but they are wiser.”

Hopefully, LeBron, Melo and D-Wade are also wiser and learn that their power doesn’t come from a hometown on a map but from the home that they find within themselves. If they find as much comfort within as they do in their hometowns, they’ll feel at home no matter where they are.