His legacy will live on in Cleveland, except it won't live on the way LeBron James had wanted it to. No, his legacy will live in infamy, as the bright star who broke a city's heart.
It's not easy to unbreak a heart, not when a person has left that heart in shards. And in Cleveland, those men and women have an anger too visceral to discard. Just look around the city or listen to the talk on the streets or check out the made-for-the-moment websites: It's LeBron James everywhere, 24/7.
In the streets around Progressive Field and The Q, vendors hawked t-shirts tonight that said "Quitness" or something about James's momma too crass to mention. One internet site has been peddling a particularly telling t-shirt which reads: "I WITNESSED NOTHING."
That's only half true.
Nobody can say that James didn't treat Cavaliers fans to seven seasons of incredible performances. He was an MVP twice; he took the Cavs to the NBA Finals; he won a scoring title and an Olympic gold medal; and he made basketball matter in this football-crazed city.
Yet his arrival foretold more. So did James himself. He often talked about winning championships, how important bringing one to Northeast Ohio was to him.
He knew the region's sports history; he would talk about the region's half-century of bittersweet successes and abject failures. He intended to change all that, and asked fans to bear witness.
And they did.
They witnessed and marveled at James, anointing him as a savior: The hometown boy who would bring championships, ticker-tape parades, and sports glory to Cleveland. That would be his legacy, doing what Michael Jordan did for Chicago, what Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant did for Los Angeles, what Bill Russell, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, and Red Auerbach did for Boston.