Cleveland Cavs: Ways the Cavaliers Can 'Celebrate' LeBron James' Return To City

Eric FelkeyAnalyst IAugust 11, 2010

Six Ways the Cavaliers Can "Celebrate" LeBron James' Return to Cleveland

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    When LeBron returns to Cleveland wearing this jersey, things might get a little heated.
    When LeBron returns to Cleveland wearing this jersey, things might get a little heated.Marc Serota/Getty Images

    As a writer (or wannabe writer), one of the things drilled in your head is to never use "I" in your articles. Tell people what you know, not what you think.

    When it comes to LeBron James (the ex-Cavalier version), it's impossible for me not to use "I." After what he did on July 8, I'll never be able to write or have a rational, objective opinion on him.

    For me, it was personal. Of course it's absolutely ludicrous and self-centered to have that mindset, but it's what I believed.

    I spent seven years watching and following this guy's every move on the court. Actually, make it eight—I remember following his St. Vincent St. Mary team when he was a senior, most notably when they played powerhouse Brookhaven in Columbus back in December of '02.

    (LeBron and Brookhaven guard Drew Lavender put on an unbelievable show that night.)

    I spent over a third of my life idolizing and fawning over a self-proclaimed "Chosen One" that could not possibly care any less about me or any other Cleveland fan—and during the final two games of this year's Boston series, it looked like he couldn't care less about winning, either.

    It was then and there that I decided not to waste any more time with this guy. Any time I saw his name in an article headline, I skipped over it.

    If his name was coming up on the SportsCenter timeline, I changed the channel.

    And I haven't written his name in any article, blog, blurb, or tweet since, only referring to him by demeaning terms like "the drama queen" or "D-Wade's sidekick".

    I felt that writing or talking about him would just feed into his almost exponentially growing ego.

    I wanted to give him the same respect that he gave the city of Cleveland on July 8...which was seemingly none.

    It was like being in the denial stage of grief: deep down, I probably thought that if I kept ignoring all of the hoopla surrounding him, maybe I'd one day wake up and find out this was all one horrible dream.

    However, let's face it...there's no way I (or any other basketball fan on the planet) can avoid him forever. He's arguably the biggest name in basketball, whether you love him, hate him, or are somewhere in the middle.

    Besides, it's not like I want to hold this grudge against him forever.

    But Cleveland fans will hold this grudge for a very, very, very long time—and the feeling probably won't truncate any until the city finally claims a championship.

    His half-assed "thank you's" that came about a month too late to have any significant meaning aren't going to help either.

    So on Dec. 2, when he makes his first appearance at the Q wearing a Miami jersey, the collective animosity and feelings of betrayal of 20,000 strong will be the voice of almost all Clevelanders worldwide (unless the Indians win 49 games in a row, make the playoffs, and steal the World Series...then it might not be as potent).

    However, there are some constructive ways the Cavs organization can "celebrate" his return. So in honor of the dethroned King of Ohio's new number, here are six plans the organization and city can put together to somewhat dispel the inevitable hostility that will be targeted at James.

Unveil a New Billboard on the Landmark Office Tower

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    There's quite a noticeable absence on the side of the Landmark Office Tower in Cleveland.
    There's quite a noticeable absence on the side of the Landmark Office Tower in Cleveland.

    For years, the "We Are All Witnesses" billboard has graced the side of the Landmark Office Towers.

    When you got off at exit 271B, it loomed larger than life...sort of how James did during his time in Cleveland. It was a spectacle you had to see to truly appreciate.

    Days after "The Decision," it was taken down. Now, there is a distinctly notable blank slate of windows staring back at those who pass by.

    That billboard became as much of a part of downtown Cleveland as Quicken Loans Arena or Jacobs Field (it will always be Jacobs Field, damn it).

    Obviously, its original message can no longer be held intact. But why not spruce it up a bit?

    One of Josh Cribbs' Twitter followers created this spectacular image that graces No. 16 as the new "savior" for Cleveland sports.

    Humble as he is, Cribbs suggested the billboard be not a depiction of him but rather Cleveland sports as a whole...or maybe even a mural dedicated to the fans.

    If the city can get together and decide on a suitable replacement, Dec. 2 would be the perfect date to unveil it for the first time.

    It shows that the organization (and the city) has moved past James and is ready to accept the new direction of the franchise.

    Plus, the overwhelming sense of pride that would come from the new billboard might serve as a nice counterbalance to the seething venom that will be directed at LeBron that night.

Honor the Great Athletes in Cleveland History

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    Mark Price might not be the best player in Cavs history, but he's one of the most popular.
    Mark Price might not be the best player in Cavs history, but he's one of the most popular.Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Regardless of your personal opinion, it's not an exaggeration say that LeBron was not only one of the best players in Cavalier history, but he was arguably the best-ever athlete in Cleveland sports.

    However, his performance and demeanor on the court for the last three games of the Boston series and his conduct during the offseason will forever taint his legacy.

    For that reason, the Cavs should pay homage to some of the greats in Cleveland history with a special pre-game or halftime celebration that honors their contributions to the city and their respective games.

    Start with Jim Brown, one of the top-five running backs of all time.

    He led the Browns to the 1964 championship, held the NFL career rushing record for years, and has tirelessly worked with improving social responsibility in the community through programs like Amer-I-Can that work to promote education and stop violence amongst the youth.

    Include former Browns players like Bernie Kosar, who was a popular player on the field but still works in the organization as a consultant.

    Bring back some popular players from the Indians as well. How about Kenny Lofton? He was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame last Saturday night and was given a standing ovation while the crowd chanted his name.

    He resonated with fans in a way that few athletes in Cleveland ever have.

    And finally, let some of the Cavaliers who have their jerseys hanging from the rafters say a few words.

    Let Mark Price, Larry Nance, and Brad Daugherty soak up some applause from the Cavalier faithful.

    Give Bingo Smith and Nate Thurmond a chance to talk about how much putting the team on the map in the '70s meant to their careers.

    And don't forget about Austin Carr, whose popularity in Cleveland has skyrocketed since he took over the color commentator role on FSOhio's broadcasts.

    Of course, one man might be absent from these proceedings. But most of the fans in attendance aren't going to clamor for him to be involved.

Have GLBC Re-Brew the "Quitness" Ale

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    It didn't take long for GLBC's Quitness Ale to become one of their most popular beers.
    It didn't take long for GLBC's Quitness Ale to become one of their most popular beers.

    The Great Lakes Brewing Company always does its best to epitomize Cleveland and make fantastic beers inspired by several local events (i.e., the Burning River Pale Ale in honor of the Cuyahoga River once catching on fire).

    For a four day stretch in July, they offered a special "Quitness" brew in honor of the backstabbing way LeBron left Cleveland.

    It was a dry India pale ale that was "sure to be as bitter as the mood of Cleveland these days".

    However, four days wasn't nearly long enough—despite only having the beer on tap at the company's brewpub, it sold out 30 gallons in about three hours. So obviously it was in high demand.

    For one more night in December, the GLBC should consider making another batch.

    The Q could set up several vendor stands throughout the arena specially designed to sell Quitness Ale...for one night only, that is.

    However, this is one idea that might not dispel the amount of hostility in the air; in fact, it could do the opposite.

    The dangers when you mix alcohol with a bunch of pissed off/angry/bitter/depressed Cleveland fans is something you typically would want to avoid.

    (Image courtesy of WaitingForNextYear.com)

Retire the No. 23 Jersey

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    The Cavs could consider retiring No. 23...but with a different name on the back.
    The Cavs could consider retiring No. 23...but with a different name on the back.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    This is an idea that was floated around almost immediately after James bolted. At first it seemed a bit imprudent, but it does make sense once you think about it (from a bitter Cavs fan's perspective, that is).

    After an emotional game (ironically enough against Miami) last year, LeBron announced he wanted to drop the No. 23 and switch to No. 6 as an homage to Michael Jordan.

    "I just think what Michael Jordan has done for the game has to be recognized some way soon," James said. "There would be no LeBron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade if there wasn't Michael Jordan first.

    "He can't get the logo, and if he can't, something has to be done. I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I'm starting a petition, and I've got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I'm not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it.

    "If you see 23, you think about Michael Jordan. You see game-winning shots, you think about Michael Jordan; you see guys fly through the air, you think about Michael Jordan; you see fly kicks, you think about Michael Jordan.

    "He did so much, it has to be recognized, and not just by putting him in the Hall of Fame."

    That's all well and good. Never mind the fact that James switched to No. 6, which was worn by Bill Russell, who took multiple public stands during the Civil Rights movements the '60s and is widely renowned as one of the greatest champions in NBA history.

    But if James really wants the No. 23 retired, the Cavs should be the third team to do so. Hang a No. 23 Cavalier jersey from the rafters with the name "Jordan" on the back, put a special plaque underneath it that commemorates Jordan's career, and implore the rest of the league to follow suit.

    After all, isn't that what LeBron wants?

Donate Ticket Proceeds to the Boys & Girls Club of America

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    As you know, the main purpose of "The Decision" was to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America...
    As you know, the main purpose of "The Decision" was to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America...Larry Busacca/Getty Images

    The pretense around "The Decision" was to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

    It was a great gesture, but it would have meant the same in dollar amounts if James would have quietly announced his decision without being pimped out on national TV and just donated six of his $110 million contract to the charity.

    Much has been made about what Cavs fans should do on the first Thursday of December. Some say they should completely boycott the game and not show up.

    Others think that they should go to as many local bars, businesses, and restaurants as possible to feed money back in the downtown community.

    Another train of thought is to read newspapers or put on blinders when James' name is announced in the starting lineup.

    But here's the most plausible way to go about this (as if the Q will have trouble selling tickets for this game in the first place): charge a bit more for tickets (they will anyways) and announce that all money raised through ticket sales will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, or another charity of Dan Gilbert's choosing.

    That way, Cavs fans aren't buying tickets to celebrate LeBron's return by lustily booing him—they're buying tickets to raise money for kids across the country.

    Hey, it's not like LeBron had an ulterior motive during "The Decision" special...right?

Host Zydrunas Ilgauskas Appreciation Night

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    Z is hands down the classiest & most professional player the Cavs have seen in the last 15 years.
    Z is hands down the classiest & most professional player the Cavs have seen in the last 15 years.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Dec. 2, 2010 will mark the return of one of Cleveland's most prized athletes. It'll be the first time in his life that he plays a game in Cleveland without wearing a Cavaliers jersey.

    He's represented the organization in the classiest of manners every single day he wore the aforementioned uniform.

    He's been described by countless media pundits as one of the nicest human beings on the planet.

    He's called Cleveland his home for his entire career. He raised his family in Northeast Ohio and said members of the community "taught me the importance of family and friends; of pulling together to get things done; of loving your country."

    When he left the Cavs to play with the Heat, he lamented that his decision "was not an easy one to make for either myself or my family."

    But he left with sweet parting words for the Cleveland faithful that supported him:

    "I've never felt as proud as when I've put on the wine and gold and stepped on the court. I've tried my best to return that support by playing as hard as I could each and every game...

    "But as I enter the last few years of my career, I felt I owed it to myself and my family to chase my dream of winning an NBA championship. I hope you understand.

    "I also hope you realize that Cleveland will always be home to me."

    We're talking, of course, about Zydrunas Ilgauskas (what do you mean another Cav player left to play in Miami this year?).

    Z will always be one of the most popular athletes in Cleveland. He was there through good times and bad.

    He did whatever he could to get over his multiple foot injuries and return to the court. Because of that and his blue-collar approach, the city instantly felt a connection with him.

    He took part in countless amounts of charity work; nobody that's met him has a bad word to say.

    It's only right the Cavs pay some sort of tribute to him when he returns. But knowing Z, he's probably too humble to accept such a fuss.

    It's just the kind of guy he is—not one to bring unnecessary attention to himself.

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