The Day That Cleveland Sports Died
AKA “Sign #814 that God Hates Cleveland”
AKA “Sign #814 that God Hates Cleveland”
I didn’t sleep well last night. On any normal night, I would have attributed it to the relentless itching of the dozens of mosquito bites that I suffered over the 4th of July weekend. But this was different…last night’s restlessness was due to my reaction to “The Decision.”
“The Decision,” of course, was LeBron James’ self-promotional and contrived hour-long special on ESPN in which he announced that he was leaving Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat. Being a fan of all Cleveland teams, this obviously was devastating news to me, but not really a surprise. The writing was on the wall when the Cavs fell to the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs, failing to bring Cleveland its first professional sports title in 46 years. The writing was on the wall when LeBron basically quit in game 6 (and stretches of other games) of that series. The writing was on the wall when Chris Bosh declined LeBron’s plea to come to Cleveland and joined the Heat instead (I am convinced that this was part of their master plan…LeBron didn’t try to get Bosh to become a Cavalier because he knew that they would be teaming up with Dwyane Wade in Miami).
So when reports surfaced on Thursday that the trio would be forming a mini “Dream Team,” it all made sense, even before LeBron callously confirmed the reports later that night. And to be honest, I don’t blame him for leaving Cleveland for Miami. I’m not mad at him for wanting to win multiple titles and hitching his wagon to two other superstars to do so (even though his idol, Michael Jordan, would NEVER have done that…he would have taken on that team himself). What I am mad about is the way he announced his decision.
James threw the Cavaliers franchise, its fans and the city of Cleveland under the bus and slowly ran over them in sixty minutes of self-serving, ego-stroking media hype. Sure, he mentioned how he “never wanted to leave Cleveland” and that “his heart would always be in that area,” but how are we to believe that when he strung everyone along for months, anxiously waiting on “The Decision?” How are we to believe that when he publicly embarrassed his hometown organization and its entire fan base on national TV? Give me a break! That’s like a husband confessing to his wife on Maury that he fathered a child out of wedlock with a waitress in South Beach, but he still loves his wife.
The truth is that LeBron didn’t care about anyone but himself. He didn’t care about the fans. He didn’t care that he had basically promised a championship to a fan base starving for one. He didn’t care about the total desperation that all Cleveland fans share and he didn’t care that he was “The Chosen One” that was supposed to end it. He didn’t care about how his decision would affect the city of Cleveland. He didn’t care that downtown bars, restaurants and hotels would lose millions of dollars if he left. With the manufacturing sector already gone, the tourism industry was the main thing keeping Cleveland afloat. And he didn’t care. I am seriously scared for that city.
What’s worse is that he didn’t even notify the Cavs front office of his decision prior to announcing it on air. Dan Gilbert and Company found out with the rest of the world! This is the same guy that drafted James first overall as an 18-year-old kid, paid him tens of millions of dollars (and gave him the opportunity to make much, much more) and did everything in his power to surround him with a solid supporting cast to get LeBron a ring. But he didn’t have enough decency to give Gilbert and the Cavs a head’s up before “The Decision.” That is just plain classless.
But LeBron isn’t the only party to blame for this debacle. Plenty can be said about the presentation from ESPN, who had already been leading with this story on every SportsCenter for the last two months. With all of their talking heads throwing true journalism out the window and purely speculating on LeBron’s future non-stop, ESPN must have had a wet dream when he approached them with his suggestion for this special. “The Decision” would be their M*A*S*H series finale…just replace Hawkeye with LeBron and Hunnicutt with Jim Gray (Stuart Scott is Spearchucker Jones). What ESPN (and James) failed to realize is what a train-wreck this would become. You had “analysts” in Bristol saying the same things that they had been saying for months and a setting in the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich that just made for a very odd environment (the children in the background got a front-row seat to the execution of an already-dying city). No one outside of ESPN and Team James could have thought this came across well. “The Decision” turned “The King” into the most despised athlete in Cleveland, New York and Chicago. I hope you like hate letters in your mailbox and dried egg yolk on your siding, LeBron. You only have yourself to blame.
I know that this rant has been overwhelmingly anti-LeBron, but I understand that this is a business and he did the best he could in Cleveland. I do wish him the best of luck and I definitely hope he doesn’t get eaten by a shark. He is “The King” and I know he’ll do well in Miami, in front of all their loyal fans. I don’t think that “The Decision” will tarnish his brand at all and I honestly believe that he, Wade and Bosh will lead the Heat to multiple NBA titles. I just hope that he doesn’t expect a warm reception at his next high school reunion.
 Believe it or not, “The Decision” is not the title of a John Grisham book.
 ESPN: Serving narcissistic athletes’ egos since 1979
 Of course, this would be after the obligatory DNA test (a Maury staple)
 For me, this is the hardest pill to swallow. I love the Browns, but I know they will NEVER be good. And the Indians show glimpses every couple years, but I’m not holding out hope for them. The real reason to be a Cleveland fan was LeBron. With him quitting on the Cavs, there is nothing to cheer for. As a new father, I am worried about this for my son. That’s right…I worry about the sports teams my son will follow (I am shallow like that).
 Normally I’d argue that it’s not an athlete’s responsibility to worry about a city’s economic stability. But for a local product who claims to love Cleveland? I just thought this might be on his mind…apparently not.
 ESPN: Inserting itself into sports stories since 1979
 I never watched M*A*S*H (before my time), but I’m still making this reference.
 I didn’t realize that there were neglected, sibling-less kids in Greenwich. Besides, I thought that’s what the nanny is for.
 Really a wonderful idea on LeBron’s part. “Not only am I going to crush your hopes and dreams on live TV, I’m going to do it in front of impressionable kids.” Nice touch, King!
 Though it’s still fresh, I think the hatred for LeBron in Cleveland will ultimately rank just below that of Art Modell, but above John Elway.
 Actually, he probably has brick walls.
 False…ultimately, he never finished what he started.
 No I don’t! I hope he fails miserably
 Really…I don’t. But can you imagine if he did? Karma’s a bitch.
 Of cocksuckers…that’s right, I said it. Get used to it because there’s more cursing ahead.
 By “loyal” I mean fickle. This is the same city that averaged 16,290 attendance (38% of capacity) for the Marlins the year they won the World Series.
 And by “fans” I mean juiced-up douchebags.
 And the other cast-aways they get to fill out the team
 FUCK YOU, LEBRON…YOU’RE A PIECE OF SHIT!! I know it doesn’t really apply to that line, but I just really needed to get that out.