LeBron James has always said that he would go where he could win a championship. He could have won one last year in Cleveland, I believe there is enough evidence that he was finding a deniable way to leave. But, despite all of that, he could have left for the Heat, without as much vitriol and pain as he did. There was a staff who gave him their love, sweat, and hard work. That paid him and did all they could to make sure he had the very best of everything, from moving the practices and trainings to his mansion in Akron to better suit him, paying for everything LeBron's entourage wanted and giving his friends high paying jobs, to (despite popular belief) listening to his choices of who he thought would be good picks for that years trade, who they could develop and whom he worked well with. It was LeBron’s team, through and through.
Perhaps that was the downfall in the end.
The fans have always been very aware of his consistent talk that money does not matter, championships do. If every finger needs a ring and more made into a necklace for him to be happy, that is what his life is. It is not mine, nor anyone else's to dictate, as hollow as those victories sound to me. But we have our rights and our reasons to weep and to be angry and to mourn.
He had his fans, god did he have his fans. And god did you hear him talk about it back when he wore the jersey…not as much off the court doing his interviews on Letterman or the Daily Show, that did make me uncomfortable. But we were constantly mentioned by him in post-game or half-time court interviews. The noise, the exuberance, the pure elation at having someone who played for us, played like that, and wanted to play for us. Came from the down-and-outs, and was not ashamed, and stood with us and said:
This is where I come from. And I will stand with you. And I will make you proud.
Often, in quiet conversation about where you are from things become uncomfortable and the topic avoided, because when you are from Cleveland you do not seem to be viewed as people per se, but as people born of mistakes, or people too stupid to not have left a perceived hellhole. But, it seemed LeBron saw the beauty, decayed and rusting but there with growth and glimmers, of the two cities, the parts no one talked about. He was the embodiment of that for us, the promise of being able to say we are from Cleveland...without tensing up for a fight or looking the other way.
We could scream from the Empire State Building that we have fantastic original theatre with premieres and small avant garde companies, dance and ballet that will make you weep, symphonies to rival the world’s, jazz clubs to slip into when you’re lonely, all the little things and big that make cities...cities. Throw our awards and all of the pamphlets for the museums, the pictures of the all of what makes Cleveland unique and special at the heads of those passing by who laugh and sneer;
but it would do nothing like what him with his arms outstretched on a massive billboard hung on the side of the Quicken Loans arena did. He was our trump card. Because when people still call you the Mistake on the Lake, you have to have something to hold onto.
Remembering the former symbol of your city, the Browns, torn from you and transplanted in Baltimore. You can only hope it will not happen with the newest one. Albeit, this ones roots are shallower, and like a palm tree, can get blown by the wind much more easily, and he did all the way down to where that particular tree thrives. Thrives, but grows in clumps so they do not fall over. The new troika is hoping to keep each other up in the post-season hurricanes, and I am glad for them that they have tried to pull off looking unselfish enough to want to win Championships together. But the cloak and scepter mega-star position was clearly given to him in the early signing of Wade and Bosh. LeBron’s display of entitlement and personal importance, beyond what most could have imagined, during his hour long ESPN special was masterful smoke and mirrors on Wade's part. The thing is that the real Alpha-dog lies in Wade, and I am not sure if James knows it.
When it comes down to the actual trade itself, there was no last minute morning decision. Chris Bosh was supposed to have been the fall guy in this overly marketed display of LeBron star power, when the Raptor refused to sign in Cleveland. So Wade convinces him to sign in Miami for a cut in both their max pay. This, thus not only leaves the Heat money to get LeBron, but would (to anyone with a knowledge of Cleveland/Bulls sports history or sports analysis in general) make it 'impossible' for James to beat the Heat with the Cavs in the Semi-finals to reach the Championship game, and ending up becoming the Cavs in the Jordan years all over again. How could James not go, and how could ESPN see it any other way and any sane person, outside of Cleveland, see it any other way?
Was the Boy’s and Girl’s Club donations a trade off, excuse the bad choice of words, for the heartless and cowardly way in which he made his decision known and the mockery of sports, himself, and the franchise and city that loved him with such a peacock display. It was carefully chosen to avoid looking peacock, looking swagger, but unavoidably it did so. The toned down plaid shirt and his serious, calm demeanor. No suit. Nothing too expensive about him. The kids playing in the background. Overly staged.
What about the charities he has set up here in Ohio and his hometown, such as where he gets bicycles donated to kids of Akron who need them and then rides in a race with them. Does he abandon that now, and abandon all of those kids who rode along side him, or who were waiting because this was the year they were going to get a bike to talk to him, even if just a glance and a smile? He said in the interview he will be coming back to the area two times a year, in reference to playing the Cavaliers. I highly doubt he will risk going into Akron and riding a bike along the streets, unguarded after this.
The bestselling book he co-authored about his High School years growing up, along with the film documentary had made thereafter, had a section in the early chapter about how he looked at the map of the United States at school and always wondered, as little kids do such things,
‘Why isn’t Akron on there? One day I am going to make sure that Akron is on that map.’
You did put it on the map LeBron...as your hometown. You could have put it on the map where you never left. A place you brought glory and honor to the franchise you saw growing up mired in misery, with the people who scrimped and saved to buy that seat way up high to max-pack the arena every night. In your seven years we had already saw the tragedy; climaxes of power and passion, love and heartbreak, defeat and triumph, but we had not seen that final victorious roar. And God how we wanted to roar in time with you, the entire people of Ohio, but the city of Cleveland, she…she would have smiled to herself as she sighed,
One burden lighter.
What I will miss the most is not LeBron himself, although I loved watching him, I loved watching the way he moves how no others can. The raw strength honed by precision. I loved the mix of man and boy, and the way he could make me shake my head with a grin at the goofy looks or asides, and yet be as intensely into the game the next second.
No, what I am really going to miss is the interaction between him and the others on the team Delonte, Mo, Wild Thang, Boobie, Z, Moon, and JJ.They played...and in the truest sense of the word. You could see the joy, and it made you laugh and it engaged you. You rooted for them, not just because they were your team, but because you liked them. They even came up with one of the most ridiculous starting line up announcement entrances, and after that it was edge of your seat, pure enjoyment with emphasis on joy.
Grinning Austin Carr’s, ‘Get that weak stuff outta hear!’ and ‘Throws the Hammer down!’ adding to every high point of the game with his laughter, and dapper suits (especially those purple silk ties) making for something you knew could feel was just beyond basketball. Then Kempe after the game, those old schoolers lending a sparkle a spit and polish no one else could. It was a dream to watch.
It is those people whom I hurt for. I hurt for them, for my city, but mostly for the guys he left behind. The Cleveland Globetrotters. The Cavs have been a part of my life since I was little and the LeBron years since he signed, but that highly tuned rhythm came mostly these past two seasons, and I will never see anything like it again in my life.
That is the only thing I ever truly Witnessed.