During LeBron James hour-long special on ESPN titled "The Decision" (don't worry, the money from the ads goes to charity, so he's a great person), LeBron was asked if winning a championship in Miami (last championship: 4 years ago) would be any different than winning one in Cleveland (last championship: 46 years ago). He said that "a championship is a championship".
This was a star that overcame being born in the projects and never knew who his father was. He worked hard to develop his incredible talent, winning three state basketball titles and entering the NBA Draft as a high schooler along the way. And it seemed by the hand of God that Cleveland won the right to draft the hometown hero No. 1 in the draft.
It was a feel good story for an economically depressed area. It was hope for the kid growing up in the bad area of town that maybe one day he would be able to have a better life—that if LeBron had a chance, he did, too. It was hope for the community. It was a rallying point. The downtown was enlivened thanks to LeBron and the Cavs. LeBron was going to be the one who would lead Cleveland to its first championship in about half a century.
Then LeBron announces on a one-hour special in primetime on ESPN that he was leaving Cleveland to win championships and have fun. (In contrast, Kevin Durant, arguably one of the best players in the NBA, announced his decision to re-sign with his team via Twitter.) Funny how Michael Jordan never teamed up with Larry Bird, and if everyone just wanted to have fun all the time, would anyone ever work again?
LeBron obviously didn't want to be the "man" in Cleveland. Instead, he chose to be in a less stress-filled situation where no one is counting on him to play his best every game. If he has an off night, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh can carry the team. Besides, he just wanted to play with his friends. Kobe, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird would never team up with another superstar because winning when your team is stacked with All-Stars is never as rewarding as working hard to win a championship.
LeBron had the right to move to a different team, but I don't think he grasped what he meant to Cleveland. And it's a shame because it is people like LeBron (when he played for the Cavs) that make sports so appealing. But hey, at least he's having fun in Florida while the city that claimed him as king is going back to work.
But now they do it without that hometown hero providing hope for a city that only knows about losing.