Thursday, July 8, 2010

Go Away LeBron

The following is part of Paul Jackson's excellent article about 10 Cent Beer Night in Cleveland.

"Any rumination on Cleveland's fortunes in the '70s must include the woeful state of the Cuyahoga River, which ran a winding course through downtown. In 1952, it caught fire for the ninth time. Years and years of absorbing liberal amounts of industrial waste had turned the Cuyahoga into something more than just a waterway. The fetid river burned with Stygian fury, destroying $1.5 million in property. Despite the significance of the incident, it didn't attract much national news coverage. But in 1969, when the Cuyahoga caught fire again, flames reached five stories in height and burned for almost a half-hour. Still, they did little more than scorch a rail bridge, and the damage cost just $50,000 to repair. In Cleveland, this was viewed as improvement. Between '52 and '69, however, the national attitude toward flammable bodies of water had changed."

Cleveland once became the 5th largest city in the nation. These days it is ranked around 45. They have not won a professional sports title since 1964. A history written in loss. "The drive"... "The shot".

Cleveland has been taking a beating in the press as of late. Not in a overt call to arms way, but in a subvert sick and evil way. Comments about the city followed by chuckles.

LeBron James has created a something I've not ever seen in sports. From him playing locally for his whole life to this fiasco he is calling "The Decision". It reeks of someone who cannot win on the playing field so he brings the hype. It is something akin to what an aging superstar does at the end of their career. He just doesn't have the fire in the belly to win anything. From a teammate having "relations" with his mother to him tanking a game in the playoffs. This bum is a bum.

At this point I find myself wondering if he can prevent himself from becoming a villain. What could he possibly say tonight to prove to his hometown fans otherwise? If he wanted to stay in Cleveland he would have done what Jordan did for Chicago; just fax a letter to team owners stating... "I'm back".

It's lose and lose for James. Stay in Cleveland and never win (which I don't think he can on his own) or move away and attach himself to better players and win playing second fiddle. The whole thing drives me nuts.

I'm not an NBA fan by any means, but Ohio is in a tizzy about this whole thing. Conversations at work are all about it, local news, national news, all my precious WC commentary brushed aside. My message to LeBron?

Take your documentary filming crew somewhere else. And ESPN? Shove it up your ass.

If there is one thing I've learnt about Cleveland... If you scorn them you will never, ever be welcome back. The folks up there have been through more then any other place in this great country. Jordan made a choice not to ever return to Kinston, NC. Fortunately for you, if you leave, the folks in Cleveland will make that choice for you.

This whole thing is impossible to avoid from where I am now. The Cleveland sports fan is really something special. I've learned that. Boy, have I learned that. From the quiet person that breaks out the old school "Brownie Fairy" shirt to the bombastic "this is our year" fan. If you ever meet one... sit down with them and talk to them. They have earned that. From all I have learned about these leagues and only a select few winning year in and year out... just talk to them. It's a special thing.

Lebron? While you may just be one of the most physically gifted athletes in the world... you are just another small part in the epic story of a Cleveland sports fan. I hope you know that.

No comments: