Handling This Like a True Clevelander Should.
I should start at the beginning. I'm a 23 year old, male, college student who has been in love with Cleveland sports since I came out of the womb. It's strange because I openly root for Penn State, but as I've always said, if Cleveland State had a football team I'd root for them too. I don't do the easy thing. I don't hop band wagons. Sorry Columbus is not the closet city to Cleveland that has a NCAA Division 1 football program. I'm not going to root for OSU just because their the best. I could go into the details of why I root for Cleveland Teams, or Penn State and not OSU, but that's not the point of this article.
For far to long we (the city of Cleveland) had very few things to hold onto. We had our NFL championships (6 straight appearances still a record), our 90's of consecutive sell outs in baseball (2nd longest only to The Red Sox latest streak), we had our share of good moments and bad moments. But the one thing we've always had, was our pride. And trust me, being in Cleveland, nothing phases us. Jim Thome left us for a Philly cheese steak and we bounced back better then he did (zero titles). We have our pride, and it makes us who we are. The real lovable losers. Everyone talked about how the Red Sox hadn't won a title in a hundred years and blah blah blah. During that time though the Patriots won titles, the Bruins won titles and the Celtics won a crap load of titles. Don't tell me your starved for attention their Boston. We are the longest deprived city for a title that has three major sports teams. Not one other city with three major sports teams has had this type of drought. But we embrace it. We celebrate such incidents like The Drive, The Fumble, The Jose Mesa(97 series), The Collapse (2002 playoff game against the Steelers), The Shot and now our most recent list to add to the shrine of THE's, The Decision.
That's right, another LeBron James column. But! I assure you, not a typical column of a jaded fan. See, I don't root for self absorbed stars. It's not my deal, its not my thing. My favorite basketball player has the nickname "the Big Fundamental." You see the type of athlete I like? Tim Duncan. My favorite football player, Joe Thomas or Kevin Mawae depending on what the choices are, Browns or NON-Browns players. But it's not just me, it was the entire city prior to 2003. This whole town loved it's blue collar stars. Otto Graham is the definition, an offensive lineman, punter, quarterback, FOOTBALL GOD. Mark Price and Bernies Kozar were often called the greatest PG and QB the Cavs/Browns ever had. Blue Collar. That's what it was all about.
But then I started to notice something that no one else did. The False Prophet. The city knelt to their knees and kissed this man's ass because he was "special". Special in the head maybe. The city was LeBron-a-go-go from the day we got the number one pick. Add that decision to the number of epic dissapointments we've ever had. This city embraced "THEIR SON" (who was born 45 minutes away, but I guess a different area code and county makes it close...sure). They embraced him at 16, and again at 18. Then they buried him at 25. Oh Cleveland where did you go.
See, from day f--king one, I hated this man. I hated him in H.S., I hated him in college *whoops, forgot he didn't go*, and I hated him in the pro's. From day one he and his entourage anointed himself the King, I hated him. And yes, there was originally motivation behind this....I wanted D-Wade in Cleveland. Why? College kid. H.S. athletes don't make for good pro's. They don't know how to win in the pro's. Wayne destroyed people at Marquette for a few years, and was obviously ready as he took a terrible Heat team to the playoffs the same year "KING" sat at home doing nothing. People were quick to forget that. So yes, there was some anger over the team taking a kid out of HS for the simple fact that he lived within an hour away from here. But I was disappointed when the Browns took Joe Thomas over my Penn State alum Levi Brown, and after watching Thomas never let anyone pass him, I quickly thought that I was wrong and that the Browns made the best pick. See, I'm like that, able to admit I was wrong.
But I watched this egocentric douche of a man try and tell everyone that at 18 he was going to conquer the league. Sure. He grew tall for 7 years, never winning anything of importance for the town. His ego grew too. His interviews that were once designed to hide his ego, were slowly changed to embrace and promote his ego. But by this point, I had stopped rooting for My Cavs, and quickly started rooting for the team that best symbolized what I want in a team. A team that knows what it takes to win. 4 titles and a superstar who you can have your child look up to. The Spurs. I figured why not embrace the exact opposite of what LeBron James was. Find the quietest, most unassuming player, who people are actually demanding to play with. OH...and knows how to win with a unknown group of players. That's Tim Duncan, everything James isn't....a winner. But above all else, a decent guy. Again, something James isn't.
The city went on this 7 year love affair for this kid, when 8 years prior, my friend Kevin Molnar and I both said he'd leave as soon as things got to tough for him.
It wasn't hard for me to accept that until he left, I couldn't root for my team. I knew that he'd be gone one day and the title he promised us would never happen. I knew he lied when he called himself a home town kid, and that he'd never wanted to leave Cleveland. And over the last 3 years....more people then you'd expect started to see that too. More and more people started to see his whining, intolerance for "TEAM" style play and his lies. He then committed the gravest acts of them all....he quit on his team. Several times I might add!
This sports fan never respected him, and is glad he's gone. But...he did give us something. See, we've named ever terrible thing that has ever gone wrong with this town. The Drive, Fumble (OH RED RIGHT 88!) but....he named his own press conference. He called it...The Decision. So while some Clevelanders may feel like it's just one more bad memory...I see it as a curse has been lifted. He took "THE's" with him to Miami. He wanted the big time spot light with his two buddies and he wanted the party scene. He didn't care about the team or the sports fans (all 432 of you prior to LeBron joining). He choose Miami because it has the most fickle sports fans in the world and because the party scene is..... apparently "to die for". And don't tell me I'm wrong about the sports fans, you have Dwayne Wade and you barely ever sell out. You have two world series wins, and even deep into playoffs, you rarely sold out. LeBron left this city for yours because he knew you'd just be happy he was there.
But we grew tired of being "just happy". LeBron was built up by the media and fans alike as a god. And then they the city threw him out when he bleed. It may have been 7 years late, but it finally happened. LeBron will forever be known as the Albatross of the NBA. He was never good enough to win a ring with a team that always changed it's roster for him. He went to South Beach (I'm laughing still at his refusal to just say the Heat..."i'm taking my talent to south beach...wow you must really love the team that much to talk about the PARTY spot!) because it had Wayne and Bosh. Two COLLEGE kids who know how to handle pressure. LeBron obviously doesn't. LeBron fill fail again and again, that's his job as the Albatross. He brings the idea of winning titles because of his incredible talents...but he'll never amount to that. He'll never be able to do what everyone thinks he can. And why is that? Because at 25 he has yet to grow up. He listens to all his advisers and his mom because he's so insecure about himself, he doesn't believe he can make the right decision.
The right decision for Cleveland, as painful as it may be for however long, was to rid ourselves of this man. We are not Los Angles, Miami or New York. We don't need a two bit coward like LeBron. We need blue collar type stars to succeed. We need the Chris Pauls, Dwight Howard's, Steve Nash's of the worlds. Not a 25 year old self absorbed infant.
And now he's gone. Like a distant memory of times gone bye, he will soon be forgotten.
All we have now is our usual patterns of misery and despair. Only...never once did we have an owner like Dan Gilbert. Now hold on, I know who he is. I know what he is. I know he wrote that letter to save face. I know that he was one of those enablers to LeBron. But I also know that James has rewrote the deffinition of the word prima donna. I know that despite his best claims to be LIKE MIKE, Mike didn't have to reassemble his team each and every season when he couldn't beat the Pistons. See Dan Gilbert nailed it on the head each and ever time he bashed LeBron. He was wrong for why he said what he said, but the words he spoke were never truer. This man has always been driven to win, and now that his superstar has left (via his "FRIEND" calling the Cavs prior to the announcement mind you), you don't think Gilbert is on the phone right now? I guarantee you he's calling Denver, New Orleans, Phoenix, each and ever team that might be interested in trading their stars away.
His promise to win a title before LeBron will come true. He will be the Mark Cuban of the Eastern Conference. He will do everything in his power to win a title. And for that and that reason alone, the fans will never falter for him. The Cleveland fan base will grow stronger; as it has after each debacle. Because unlike other cities, bad times bind us together, stronger the before. Everyone said Cleveland would riot, but we didn't riot. We held strong. We let our words express everything that we wanted to express. We aren't hurt he left, we are hurt he ever full filled his promise for a title.
But....something tells me Dan Gilbert will.
But let this be a lesson to all....never again should a city anoint a home grown star as KING before he has earned a throne of titles on which to sit on!
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