Once upon a time not long ago, LeBron James reigned supreme as the mighty King of the city of Cleveland. After his decision to abandon the region last week however, he's now been disowned from the royal hierarchy in Northeast Ohio. While LeBron leaves some big shoes to fill in his wake and it is doubtful anyone will ever be able to match the magnitude of his star power here's some of my candidates to rise up and lay claim to the vacant throne as King of the great city of Cleveland.
Now before you crucify me for this not being a sports figure hear me out. Following up on the success of "Day N Nite" and his hit mixtape "A Kid Named Cudi" the kid from Cleveland got signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music label and gained worldwide recognition with his critically acclaimed first album "Man on the Moon."
A budding hip-hop superstar, he's already done a world tour, ran the late night talk-show circuit, and worked with with the likes of rap legends Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem. In short he's this younger generation's Bone Thugs N Harmony.
Despite all the fame, he's always remained humble and remembered the city from where he came rocking the Indians cap and referencing the city from which he was raised in numerous songs.
Whether you like hip-hop music or not you have to appreciate his dedication to his hometown. The kids identify with him and if you have any doubts that this kid could be the new King of the city listen to the ovation he receives when he comes home to do a show (yeah I know it's a crap video, just listen to the crowd especially at the end).
Cleveland has always been, and always will be, a football town first and foremost, and over the past six years Josh Cribbs has been the Browns best player. Now with LeBron out of town he can lay claim to being far and away the best overall athlete in the city.
A graduate of nearby Kent State University, he has poured his heart out to the Browns organization and the city. Despite being underpaid for years you never heard a word from him as he endeared himself to fans with his explosive returns and relentless play on both sides of special teams.
This past year the fans rewarded his loyalty by actually supporting him in his bid to get a big payday in their "Pay The Man" campaign, something you never see in sports where even the mediocre player already makes more than any fan in a lifetime.
Now this year with a fresh deal, looking to help his team win at any cost, he's repeatedly said he's open to playing nearly any position on the field. Just as amazing as the two-time Pro-Bowler, is on the field he is even more amazing off it, serving as a fixture in the community hosting football camps and raising funds through his Josh Cribbs Foundation.
Loyal, charismatic, and an overall class-act Josh Cribbs, is perhaps the top candidate to ascend to the throne atop the Cleveland sports scene.
What about making a case for Cribbs' new boss, Browns team president Mike Holmgren, as the King of Cleveland?
Sure he just got into town, but already he has noticeably changed the culture in Berea and restored the faith of Browns Backers worldwide. As mentioned, Cleveland, above all, is a football town, and leading the effort in restoring the Browns to their former glory would make him a demigod along the shores of Lake Erie.
I wanted to cover all the bases so this is the arbitrary Indians slide. The Indians acquired Santana in 2008 from Los Angeles. A five-star prospect at catcher, in the two years since that trade he's torn through the minors winning the Eastern League MVP while playing for the AA Akron Areos last season.
He was called up to the big leagues this past June and in 29 games is batting .284 with 5 HR and 16 RBI and looks to be one of the few bright spots on an Indians franchise otherwise in disarray. Commonly compared to Victor Martinez, Santana is at the head of any hopes for a resurgence of Indians baseball anytime soon.
How about replacing the King from within the franchise he left? During his time in Cleveland Hickson was James understudy. Now with James gone, Hickson suddenly is being referred to by some as the best player on the Cavaliers.
Heading into his third season he's putting in extra work in the summer league to try and raise his game to the next level to meet these heightened expectations. Labeled a project coming out of NC State at the No. 19 pick, so far Hickson has been a pleasant surprise in his first two seasons, cracking the starting lineup last year and averaging 8.5 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.
I've heard numerous scouts compare his game to that of a young Amar'e Stoudemire except with more of a defensive presence. Maybe without LeBron running everything Hickson can spread his wings. A nice kid with a good personality, he could emerge as the Cavaliers new franchise player as they move on from the LeBacle.
The owner of the Cavaliers put himself into this discussion with his passionate letter that reflected the city's thought's of LeBron James. While the merits of whether or not that will hurt his franchise in recruiting free agents it debatable, however what isn't is the power his statements had in endearing himself to the fans as I can't tell you how many people I've heard praise Gilbert around town over the past week.
In the five years he's owned the team he's proven he is willing to do whatever it takes to improve his product on and off the court. He's repeatedly opened his checkbook to not only pay the luxury tax to bring in talent but also to substantially improve the game-day experience at Quicken Loans Arena and build up a state of the art practice facility down the road in Independence. With his plans to open three or four new casinos across the state, including one right down the street from the Q that could help revitalize downtown, he'll have more capital to work with than ever. Maybe he could use a couple of those extra bucks to buy the Cleveland Indians in a few years and begin to get them back on the right track.
In the meantime, as he tries to rebuild the Cavaliers into a contender, he'll have the full support of fans who appreciate the connection he's developed with them.