One of my good friends is from Kent Ohio. I would relentlessly taunt him about about Cleveland sports and their lack of winning sports’ franchises and brag about my many Boston championships. I would love beating him in NBA 2K with my beloved Celtics.
As much as I enjoyed teasing him, I felt really bad for him after LeBron decided to leave for Miami. His city’s only bragging point was gone. Our Celtics vs Cavs video game rivalry wold have to end without LeBron.
I watched LeBron play his first summer league pro game. I always admired his game and he seemed to be a down to earth person his personality on and off the court didn’t perturb me like Kobe Bryant’s and I would root for him unless he was playing the Celtics.
When LeBron left Cleveland I lost a lot of respect for him. If Larry Bird left Boston to play with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan in Chicago, I would’ve hated him, as would have millions of other sports fans, Black and white, from Boston and elsewhere. LeBron leaving Cleveland is as big as the Browns leaving Cleveland or the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn and to this day people in Cleveland still hate Art Modell for moving the Browns to Baltimore. To this day Brooklynites still hate Walter O’Malley for moving their beloved Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles For all intents and purposes LeBron James was the Cleveland Cavs, and when he decided to move to Miami he took the franchise with him.
LeBron James was one shining light in the gloom and doom that is Cleveland. Cleveland’ economy has been in the doldrums for quite some time, and unlike other big cities like New York or L.A., Cleveland has little else to brag about other than its sports teams. Without LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavs are doomed to a be a lottery team without any national exposure, excitement or revenue.
LeBron James had a chance to become the greatest athlete ever in the state of Ohio, surpassing Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. But instead he chose to play for a team that he thought had a better chance at winning a championship.
Michael Jordan didn’t leave Chicago to play with better players, he made the players around him better, Magic and Bird didn’t leave L.A. and Boston to play with better players, they made the players around them better. LeBron James obviously isn’t built from the same cloth as them, and quickly gave up on his promise to bring a championship to Cleveland.
I’m not saying that LeBron should have felt some loyalty to owner Dan Gilbert, but he should’ve felt some loyalty to the millions of fans, Black, white, young and old who have little other to take pride in other than Akron Ohio’s prodigal son, who unlike most athletes had the opportunity to play close to where he grew up.
I am not a Cleveland fan and I thought LeBron was a jerk after “The Decision” just for wasting an hour of my time. If I were to hold a press conference on TV to let my job know I was taking a job from a competitor without giving them any notice, I’m pretty sure they would think I was a jerk too.
Its not that LeBron is bad person or a villain, but he had a chance to be a good person and a hero to the people of Cleveland and he turned it down.
I understand why LeBron might think the reaction was racial. Statistics show that Black people still support LeBron while white people have a low opinion of him.
Still, I don’t think racism is a factor in that. It is a cultural issue. At the risk of putting forth a generalization, Black people tend to root for individuals, while white people tend to root for teams. Regardless of the area African Americans lived, many rooted for Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Ken Griffey Junior, while white people tend to be die hard Bulls, Lions or Mariners fans.
So for Black people it was no big deal for LeBron to leave Cleveland, because they were rooting for him to do well rather than rooting for the Cavs, while white people saw what LeBron did as a betrayal of team.
Dan Gilbert would’ve traded LeBron in an instant if it was a benefit to him, so I don’t understand his anger. Still, I understand the anger of Cleveland fans and sports fans in general at LeBron. LeBron had a chance to be a hero and he turned it down to be a villain. I’m sure the Heat will be fun to watch, but I will be rooting against them. Hopefully a team with pride and heart can stop the superstars from winning the championship that sports writers have already given them.