If the Cavaliers are looking for a new face for the franchise, they should look no further than to their veteran guard.
The Cavs’ second-leading scorer for the last two seasons bumped into James at Hopkins International Airport over the weekend. It was their first face-to-face encounter since James left behind his former teammates, home turf, and fans in a slickly marketed, highly publicized, personal pursuit of trophies in Miami.
Williams, the most prolific tweeter on the Cavs’ roster, hasn’t been shy about baring his soul since the end of the season.
When trade rumors about the seven-year veteran hit their zenith in June, Williams posted an impassioned plea on his Twitter account:
“Pls don't trade me,” he tweeted on June 23. “I'm not ready to go. I'm begging. My work ain't done yet. I'm on both knees....pls. I'm serious.”
In an interview published that afternoon on the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s web site, Williams said, “I have my heart in the city and the organization and I don’t want to leave.”
He acknowledged that the trade rumors had an upside.
“Other teams want you, so that is good,” he said, “but I love Cleveland.”
Stop right there. Let those last three words sink in.
Of course, they were erased from the city’s collective consciousness just two weeks later, when James revealed that he was, indeed, leaving Cleveland at the altar.
Williams’ admitted his shock and dismay on Twitter, and took slight umbrage with James’ tactic of using national TV to break up with his home state.
He then voiced the feelings of an entire city when he addressed LeBron directly: “…we could have got it done here and u would have enjoyed it in cle a whole lot more.”
He also wrote: “We were so damn close. So damn close now we have taken leaps and bounds backwards.”
As James was lambasted from coast to coast in the aftermath of his announcement, Dwayne Wade defended his newest teammate against accusations that he quit in game six of the Cavs’ second-round playoff loss to Boston.
“LeBron’s teammates didn’t help him in that game and it made the way he played even worse,” Wade said.
Who on the Cavs fired back? Williams, of course.
“Come on d wade, watch your mouth,” he tweeted. “I read your article.”
The Cavs had come under fire from critics far and wide for their alleged dearth of talent apart from James, and Williams had had enough. For Cleveland fans, it was refreshing to hear a member of the team stand up to the naysayers for a change.
Then came the airport encounter with James.
“Part of me is still sour,” he told the Akron Beacon Journal this week, “but I wish him the best.”
Then Williams put the capstone on an ongoing series of comments that should endear him to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio for years to come.
“I love the city. I love the fans. They welcomed me and my family and I respect that.”
If the consensus of bloggers, forum posters and even some members of the media is to be believed, nobody wants to play in Cleveland.
Tell that to Mo Williams.
Anything could happen between now and the start of the NBA season. The future of Williams and any other member of the Cavaliers could be up for grabs.
It's clear, however, that Williams loves Cleveland. If he's still wearing the wine and gold come fall, expect Cleveland—jilted by the suitor they thought would never leave—to love him right back.
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