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Pivot Points: LeBron's Decision Matters More to Cavs than Anyone Else

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer INovember 25, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 11:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call during the game against the Orlando Magic on November 11, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Lost in all the speculation about LeBron's impending free-agency decision is the impact that his departure would have on the Cavaliers—and the city of Cleveland itself.

The media and fans alike are beside themselves on what the addition of James to various teams could do for their fortunes, while neglecting to realize the repercussions that would be felt if James left Cleveland.

In reality, roughly 50 percent of current Cleveland fans are more rooted in their allegiance to LeBron than the city of Cleveland itself and are more likely to sway their team of choice based on wherever James may eventually land.

But for the die-hard Cleveland fans who were steeped in Cavaliers history before James' arrival, the future prospects are dim in a world without LeBron.

The obvious question would be who would assume the mantle of leading man on the team in LeBron's absence? The answer to that question is a lot more complicated than it may sound.

You would have to assume that the players who made their way to Cleveland to aid James in his quest for a title would begin a hasty retreat if he were no longer there to lead them.

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Mo Williams and Shaquille O'Neal would probably be the first defectors and they would only be the opening of the flood-gates as players rushed to disassociate themselves from the spiraling franchise.

Even if Williams decided to stay, Shaq surely wouldn't—and how far does anyone think that Williams could lead a team on his own? His skills are not exactly honed for being the leader of anyone's team, and he is much better suited as a side-kick.

Cleveland would surely have money to burn in free-agency should LeBron leave, but who would be knocking down their door to sign a long term contract with a team that is going absolutely nowhere?

Gone would be the prospects of a bright future, replaced with something that very much resembles the team that the Cavaliers were before LeBron made his presence felt.

That team was a comedy of horrors, who nothing much was expected and nothing much was ever realized, a virtual doormat in a league that had passed them by.

When James was signed the fortunes of the team immediately changed and the mood of the city was altered and inspired. A new arena, a new coach, a brand new outlook for a city that was used to disappointment.

Gone were the prospects of having to root for two perpetually abysmal NFL teams. King James came in and had the Cavaliers in the Finals with dreams of more special things to come.

True Cleveland fans voice their confidence that James will stay with a smugness that is actually a veneer hidden by the very real chance that LeBron will bolt from his home state to the greener pastures of other cities.

They dismiss talk of his departure with a smile that quivers on the edges, because what would they do if James did decide to leave?

Their false logic is based on an inane loyalty to teams that have never really given the state of Ohio much to cheer about. And what is loyalty to today's brand of athletes?

Too often loyalty is defined by dollar signs and why would anyone think that LeBron's allegiances lie anywhere else?

Of course this is all speculation, but to think that Cleveland fans are not worried about life without LeBron would be comparable to believing in fairy tales that always have happy endings.

Life is not a fairy tale and the city of Cleveland would do well to brace themselves for the impending despair if LeBron were to leave. It shouldn't be too hard, after all, Cleveland fans are well versed in the virtues of perpetual disappointment.

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