—Copy and pasted from my live journal.—
Let me talk a little bit about my relationship with the Cleveland Cavaliers. One of the earlier memories of childhood involved the basketball team. It was quite a big part of my life in the late 80s and into the 90s. I remember whenever my dad got tickets; it would be a huge deal and the group of us (or just me and him) would go to Richfield Coliseum, all the way into the country to watch the team. This was back when Larry Nance, Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, and Hot Rod Williams (to name a few) were on the team. Their style of play was riveting; I loved watching them play. In the end, it was a cinch trying to get to the playoffs. And then Michael Jordan came along and was the first to crush our hopes with one three-pointer at the buzzer to send us home and the Bulls to the next round of the playoffs. We should have won then.
The team really didn’t manage to overcome that despite making it into the playoffs the following seasons. Either Michael Jordan stomped all over us as a part of the Chicago Bulls, the team crushing any opponent stupid enough to get in the way; or poor choices, trades, retirements, new coaches soon ran the team into a pathetic excuse for one after Y2K.
I was so disgusted with the way things were going, that it had been that possible to sink so low, down to such a nadir, where it even was boring to watch them play at times. Let’s be honest… it was embarrassing. Then LeBron James arrived on the scene, some local kid born the same year as I. He was from Akron and, right out of high school, drafted by the Cavs. I knew he was a big deal, but I naively thought (with a little chuckle) that he would be all hype, that he’d never live up to expectations, that the pipe dreams being crafted on news stations and in the Plain Dealer were simply just that. I looked in the periphery during his emergence, but never became engrossed as my college career continued on. Soon, though, things were starting to move up; the Cavs began winning games again, we almost scraped a playoff spot in 2005, and the hope I had squashed in the early ’90s had come back again.
For the 2005-06 season, I paid more attention than I had done for the last three. Whenever I was free, I’d go to watch a Cavs game. The entrance into the playoffs brought about the past in me, the faint childhood nostalgia, the ‘we-might-be-able-to-win’ possibilities that had almost completely evaporated after 1994 along with the decent team logo.
Of course, we were eliminated by the Pistons. This sort of disappointment never went away: in 2007 almost claiming it but falling in the Finals to the Spurs, in 2008 and also 2010 against the Celtics, in 2009 against the Magic – the biggest shocker in all of the seasons in my opinion. LeBron has done a lot to invigorate the Cavs this past decade, to boost sales, create interest in the team that had long since been snubbed out in the mid to late ’90s. He’s brought more people downtown before and after home games, and he’s started to un-tarnish Cleveland’s reputation a bit.
Unfortunately, along with this, has come LeBron James’s overinflated ego. I was never the biggest fan of him, even at the start. He was fun to watch, incredibly fun to watch, but overall I did not get a good vibe from him. He’s a spectacular player, well-rounded, unimaginably athletic. But with that his narcissism began to swell, as well as the number of ads and endorsements and popularity. His sportsmanship has come under fire at times – once walking to the locker room before a loss that should have been a win against Atlanta, when he left the arena with time still counting down on the shot-clock; then, he did not shake his opponents’ hands after losing against Orlando in 2009. I’m sorry, I don’t care if you are a “competitor” and that you “want to win”, are angry with being eliminated and that “if someone beats you up, you aren’t going to congratulate them”. It’s all claptrap. A poor sport is a poor sport, no matter the situation and the actions.
(So you can imagine how irritated I get when I tell people I’m a Cavs fan and they simply think it’s because LeBron James is on the team. That isn’t why.)
People pin him as Cleveland’s savior; I buy it to an extent. He has done wonders for the city, almost as if he requires a bit of a tribute like a “king” would expect from his subjects. However, his loyalties aren’t as strong to the area as people might love to believe. Remember when he wore a Yankees hat to a Cleveland Indians game against the Yankees? All his favorite teams are the winners from other cities (including the aforementioned Chicago Bulls when Jordan was on the team, surprise surprise!); that has to nettle a lot of people. I think just a tiny bit, right?
For me, I’m not going to cry or moan or grumble much about LeBron’s choice later today – if he does indeed choose a different team to attempt to win a championship. Of course, it’ll be a shame not to have him here where the title would be closer to the city’s grasp. Most people will lose interest once again with the Cavs. The team will most likely sink into oblivion unless we receive some decent talent in return, some amazing, indescribable talent – but Cleveland sports team owners are notorious for selling the best for the shittiest. I’m wavering on cynicism with all the continuous disappointments and unthinkable actions by management in the past. Hope isn’t truly there.
The main issue I will have if LeBron leaves is where he will go. For me, anywhere but the Chicago Bulls. It would just tear open a wound that’s just about healed up. Almost. Jordan’s shot to eliminate the Cavs in 1989 was the first injury that continued to reopen and refuse to mend. To leave Cleveland (and Akron, his hometown), to ignore his fans and pursue a championship somewhere else (even if it is for the Bulls, his favorite basketball team), to give the news when he is somewhere in Connecticut far from the fists and the jeers and the clicks of cameras in northeastern Ohio, to allow a one-hour “special” on ESPN airing who-knows-what about him, to glory in a secret that his fans are dying to find out, to glory in a secret that his hometown is on tenterhooks waiting for, to simply allow this menagerie to air for the world to see: It’s a giant slap in the face if LeBron does indeed go somewhere else. It’s not right. It’s almost evil. If I was not a huge fan of him before this stunt, I definitely could care less where he goes or of him at all.
Just not Chicago. Please not Chicago. This mimicry of Michael Jordan is a bit much: his number, then his “retirement” of the number to “honor” his idol, then all the descriptions by the media on how James is the next Jordan. Going to Chicago would be the final nail. And if he wins his coveted trophy there, so help me God, I don’t know what I’ll do.