How LeBron James Gave Cleveland Back…
I’ve been immersed in the LeBron James heartbreak for days. First understanding, then denial, then as I read more and more, it became sadness, despair, anger, betrayal… a complete let down.
Like watching your hometown get left at the alter by the man they really believed was about to give them a ring, or worse, watching him make love to another bride on reality TV. Although, I think even Jerry Springer could have pulled off a better broadcast than what ESPN brought us, but I digress…
It’s time for a bright side to this complete and utter ugly mess.
I went to a Browns @ Bears game with a die hard Packers fan last year. As we donned our Dawg & Elf Ball caps, he was shocked at experiencing what we Cleveland fans have experienced for years… sympathy from another sports team.
One little boy looked up at his father at the concession stand and said “Daddy, can I tell that guy the Browns suck?” And without skipping a beat, in that father knows best dialect, his response was “I think he already knows that son.”
I’ve been living in Chicago for a few years, trying to communicate to Cubs fans that it just isn’t the same. You don’t really know what the words “Maybe next year” mean if you aren’t rooting for sports teams that come with the Cleveland, Ohio legacy.
Sure, we had a win at a World Series. Generations ago.
And do I even need to mention Modell?
The Decision gets its place on the list.
A lot of folks say that Cleveland sports just suck. But obviously our history shows that isn’t quite true. We just suck at follow through.
And yet, year after year, team after team, time after time, we cheer and we chant and we believe in the dream…
Some say we are fair weathered and treat our players badly. No way. We’re just honest about our disappointment and expecting results from all that pay.
Some say the attendance to our sports games represents how the fans really feel. Bull. The attendance represents what’s happened to Cleveland economically. The city ranks high in unemployment, crime and poverty. Take a look at the local bars on a game night and the picture you see is a crowd wearing team jerseys, drinking cheap beers and drowning their blue collar blues with the hope for their team.
And there are Cleveland fans all over the place. Those of us who got the hell out of their hometown but can’t put down our roots. Those who like the underdog. Those who feel our pain.
And today, amidst the settling down of the rage, there is a perspective to what LeBron did – no longer handcuffed by the promises he made. We can look at his departure with this “walk away”:
People are cheering for Cleveland again.
They feel our heartache.
Because had James used that hour to highlight the plight of the boys and girls growing up as he did, had he used that hour to take us on that journey of his, had he used that hour to eventually say “I considered it all, but home is where I will stay”, everyone would have been able to understand and appreciate. And when he didn’t, he found his way of putting Akron on the map anyway…
That father and son in a concession line at a stadium will say:
“Daddy, can we buy them a beer?”
“I already did son. I already did.”
So thank you LeBron. You lived up to the legacy that is Cleveland heartbreak.
* The largest stadium at the time in the nation, seating at Municipal Stadium was 74,400. Only 25,234 showed up.