LeBron James: What the King Must Do to Fix His Image in Cleveland

Tom ConsidineContributor IJuly 11, 2010

MIAMI - JULY 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is introduced during a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

The name Lebron James means nothing to the city of Cleveland. When his name is mentioned, only one word comes to mind: traitor.

Some see him as a quitter who didn’t try when the going got tough.

Some view him as a stone-cold liar who made the people of this city think that he would return to bring them a championship.

To Cleveland fans and residents, James is nothing but a deserter who left when the team was just one step away from a title.

Over the next six years, LeBron will be the most hated man in Cleveland. He shouldn’t travel into the state of Ohio without bodyguards that are highly trained in the field of taking bullets being fired from every direction, verbally, and quite possibly—literally.

There is nothing LeBron can do for the next half dozen years to not be hated in Cleveland.

No apology will do.

No amount of donated money to Cleveland can make up for the millions of dollars the city will lose because of his departure.

Once James is 31, and his contract with Miami Heat expires, there is one thing he can do.

Return to Cleveland, and win that city a championship.

Will James be welcomed back with open arms? Obviously not.

Is anyone going to want him in Cleveland anymore? Maybe.

If he brings back Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, would things be different? Absolutely.

It doesn’t matter how he does it. Of course it would be easier to do with another five-time All-Star like Wade or Bosh, but he needs to get it done however he can if he ever wants to go home alive.

Men and women turned from lovers of the self-proclaimed King to outraged individuals burning their most treasured article of clothing—the No. 23 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey.

James is going to realize that he made a big mistake very quickly. He still does not realize that he has ruined the relationship with not only the fans, but his closest friends back home in Cleveland.

He can’t visit his family in the state where he grew up without the media knowing about it. They’ll put it on the news and all over the Internet, and you know that at least a couple of people will make it a living hell for James if he ever steps foot in the state of Ohio again.

The Cavaliers are clearly not the same team without James.

The Cavaliers were 1-5 without LeBron last season, and they need to add at least a solid small forward to replace him to stay above .500.

Lottery protected draft picks won’t be enough to resuscitate any team that just lost one of the best players in the league.

As one basketball player once said, "Winning a championship is sweet however you do it."

That player was LeBron James.

This is the only thing that I agree with James on, from a fan’s perspective at least.

True sports fans will be happy if their team wins no matter how many players they hate on the roster.

If the Eagles won a Super Bowl with Terrell Owens, Freddie Mitchell, Tony Romo, Clinton Portis, and Plaxico Burress, I would still savor the victory just as much as if the Birds did it with Dawkins, Westbrook, Sheldon Brown, and Jon Runyan.

The reason why the Cavaliers fans despise LeBron at this moment is because he might be costing all the loyal followers, who have done nothing but love him for seven years, a championship.

If he comes back and gets the ring, those six years of ache, agony, and anguish would hurt a whole lot less. If there were to be a good ending to this story, it would be Mo Williams and LeBron James hugging while holding up Larry O’Brien’s trophy.

If LeBron comes back to the Cavaliers after his six-year contract with the Miami Heat is up, Cleveland fans will still loathe James at the start.

But if he can return, and win it all, all the heartbreak now will be erased by the joy and elation of achieving the ultimate goal: a championship.