Not “King,” Just LeBron: Cleveland, US a sadder place
Above: Chief Wahoo is going to need to find a new bridge partner, reports indicate
Everyone knows where my heart lies. I grew up in Akron. I learned to play on these courts. When I skipped recruitment and came directly to the NBA, this city supported me and helped me become the man I am. Seven years, and we came close. DAMN close, more than once. Sure, maybe we overachieved when we had no business being in the Finals. And yeah, maybe we underachieved when I think we all knew we should have brought Cleveland home the Title.
But make no mistake, I enjoyed myself and I’m proud of every minute.
And now, well, this is the hard part. The HARDEST part. I want to be a champion, it’s all I’ve EVER wanted. It defines how I see myself as an athlete and as a man. But I also want to take on what I see as the biggest and greatest challenge. That is, I believe I have the opportunity to undertake a great challenge.
That is why I will be saying my goodbye to the people of Ohio and going to the city of New York to continue my career on the greatest of all stages in sports. Sure, it’s Broadway, it’s the bright lights, the pressure cooker, but it’s also a once-proud franchise and my favorite city in the world. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself — after my career is over and all this is finished — knowing that I hadn’t taken on reviving the the heartbeat of what is arguably the greatest basketball city in the world.
That’s what I was expecting LeBron to say to me last night. After all, he went through the trouble of inviting me into his decision making process, interrupting my date with a bottle of suds and “The Fellowship of the Ring” with a press conference held inside my living room boob tube. As recently as game 6 of the Celtics-Cavs series, if you had asked any one here at Voices, including myself, if they had ANY inkling that LeBron would not be coming to NYC you would have reaped exactly zero inklings in response. It was inconceivable.
“I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”
I practically dropped my beer. You have to be fucking kidding me.
The sad part is that we misjudged the man. Year after year the legend foisted on we, the American people, was that LeBron was essentially the Roy Hobbs of basketball, minus the whole Smallville to — getting shot on the train to — Metropolis part. Hell, we EXPECTED some dumb shit like that to happen to him. It was simply too impossible that he would (a) have as much talent as he has, (b) know what to do with it, and (c) not do something stupid to completely ruin the promise of a career which had no ceiling. We thought he could walk through walls. And if he couldn’t he could at least knock each and every one of them down.
The narrative which emerged for the lot of us was that LeBron was a man who exceeded all in talent AND determination. With that talent and determination, we assumed, would come titles: for Cleveland, for whomever surrounded him. Didn’t matter. And it began to look like more than enough glory would find it’s way to the beleaguered fans of Cleveland when the Cavs arrived in the Finals in 2007, at least a year too early.
[[*aside: Danny Ainge may be responsible for all of this. There lies the enemy, Clevelanders!]]
The only fly in the ointment was that none of that was, err, exactly true. Somewhere he lost his nerve, his verve. That is, if his nerve was really all there begin. We thought that all of the mythmaking, all of hype of annointing oils, that it was leading towards a kind of higher purpose. Something like in the above. Naively, I’d hoped that in this scenario, Cleveland fans would even (sort of) understand and be able to forgive. “He was never really ours,” one would say to another, “he belongs to everyone know,” the other would say, wistfully, in response. And the two would flip on the tube to watch LeBron put up 50+ and lay every kind of smack down on Kobe, in MSG, in the cradle of bricktop basketball in the 2010-2011 Finals, even though he was surrounded by a cast of mere cardboard cutouts of himself. He would have gone from demi-God to God and we would have all approved. Even — make that, ESPECIALLY — those of us left in his wake. But no, he’s taking his talents to South Beach.
Fuck me. [Go Celts]
This article originally posted on www.venuing.com/voices by The Venuist.