Sunday, December 16, 2018

LeBron is gone, Ohio should move on

After visiting Ohio for a few weeks, I witnessed "LeBron-hating" in person. I think if anyone should feel betrayed, though, it's LeBron.

I just returned from a two-week trip to Akron, Ohio, where LeBron-hating is still gaining momentum for his "defection" to Miami.

Our tickets to the watch the Akron Aeros, a double A ball club of the Cleveland Indians, happened on "Ship out LeBron night." Guests were encouraged to bring in any piece of LeBron James apparel and exchange it for a free ticket. A sign said, "All donated items will be donated to the Canal Union District of the United Methodist Church to be taken on a mission trip far from northeast Ohio."

Sports Illustrated reported it only took three hours for Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing Company to sell its first 30-gallon batch of "Quitness," a pale ale inspired by LeBron James that reportedly leaves a bitter taste behind.

These are humorous examples of how some have responded to James ditching the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, but many others are quite serious in their outrage.

The Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, kicked things off with a statement that told fans, "You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal" and "You have given so much and deserve so much more."

Do they really? Why do they deserve more? Didn't Cavaliers fans, of their own free will, show up and see some really great basketball these past seven years? Weren't they more than compensated for the price of their ticket to see a real basketball superstar, a guy who was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003-04, NBA Most Valuable Player in 2008-09 and 2009-10, and has been both All-NBA and an All-Star every season since 2005? And didn't James have quite a bit to do with the Cavaliers having numerous playoff appearances in his tenure and a spot in the NBA Finals?

Apparently, that's not enough from "Akron's son." Apparently, he's supposed to stay in Ohio forever, whether it's what he wants or not. I think James missed that memo.

I admit I didn't know much about LeBron James until I read the story of his youth about a year ago — it's a great story, the kind that inspires hope and greatness in others, the kind that put a big fat smile on your face. I watched the documentary, "More Than a Game," just last month about his early years and those of his friends — dubbed "the Fab 4" (and later the Fab 5 when Romeo Travis joined in).

It's pretty amazing that "King James," a superstar by age 18, stuck around Ohio as long as he did. I don't think he's ungrateful, disloyal or lacking in character. On the contrary, I think he's a guy with humble beginnings who has shown his values and stayed true to his roots. Born in Akron, James played his heart out for local teams, signed with an Ohio NBA team, married his high school sweetheart and is still best buds with old friends. He even began a charity — the LeBron James Family Foundation — with his mom.

I agree James could have told the Cavaliers he was leaving, but I don't begrudge him leaving. After watching the spectacle ensue after his announcement, I think if anyone should feel betrayed, it's James.

"Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there. Sorry, but that's simply not how it works," continued Gilbert's open letter to James. "This shocking act of disloyalty from our homegrown 'chosen one' sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And 'who' we would want them to grow up to become."
My interpretation of Gilbert's remarks is he believes James should die trying for a championship with the Cavaliers in order to open the gate to heaven, his euphemism for that elusive blank on James' resume.

It seems clear from his own admission that James is a little burnt out being the go-to guy at every game. The pressure has been on James arguably longer than any other player in the NBA. How many of them were dubbed "the chosen one" by Sports Illustrated before they were even out of high school? I'm sure he'd like that championship ring on his finger just like anyone else, but he's also willing to give up some of the limelight for it. James doesn't need to die for anything, or feel obligated. He's already given quite a bit of in terms of sweat, dedication and loyalty.

I learned a hard lesson years ago in the employment world — and let's not forget that basketball is about business and that James is employed by it — business is business. It's not personal.

LeBron is gone; Ohio (and everyone else) should move on. I just returned from a two-week trip to Akron, Ohio, where LeBron-hating is still gaining momentum for his "defection" to Miami.

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Katherine Cobb is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on LeBron is gone, Ohio should move on

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By TonyBerkman on August 08, 2010 at 02:46 pm

They need to move on. Everyone has the right to decide what's best for themselves and no organization, city, or team should deny them that. It's immature to attack someone who decides to do what's best for themself. If the team wanted him gone, they would have not hesitated to say, "beGon LeBron."

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By Jack Bates on August 16, 2010 at 07:39 pm

The title of your article is "LeBron is gone, Ohio should move on", but you end your article with, "I learned a hard lesson years ago in the employment world — and let's not forget that basketball is about business and that James is employed by it — business is business. It's not personal." You have mixed up two distinctly different issues, like oil and vinigar. You did a good job mixing in the middle but in the end, just like oil and vinigar mix, the issues separate.

Issue #1: Professional Sports Is Business

Issue #2 (which you failed to research, but your article dances around): Sports In Ohio Are Personal

Your title leads us to think you are going to deal with Issue #2. Your article actually deals with issue #1. For that reason it is a poorly slanted piece because you failed to address the emotional impact of James' leaving on the fans.

Cleveland is full of emotional, hardworking, loyal people. That is why he built his brand on that. Loyalty. You glaze over HOW James left like it didn't matter. That was the whole point. Look to how Big Z (Zydrunas Ilgauskas) left. His heart felt letter is much more professional and emotional.

James made it clear that this was a business decision. That conversation he should have had with Cavs Management months before. Wade, James, and Boss set this whole thing up years ago when they played in the Olympics together. They reworked their contracts to all be free agents this summer at the same time. What James tried to do with his ESPN "special" (worst sports production for a super star in decades) flopped because he didn't address the emotional impact of his leaving. It was clear James didn't CARE.

What you experienced is the pure raw emotion of a region that was just made to feel LESS than they are. This is the state where people bleed for their teams. The do expect loyalty. They do expect that 120 million dollars should be enough to keep a home grown tallent home.

LeBron James can go win 10 rings someplace else. It will never be as special as if he had one just ONE ring in MY hometown of Cleveland.

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By taboy74 on December 26, 2010 at 04:30 am

I agree that James did so much for the city and I think it would beunfair for him not to join a team that would give him the chnace to win a ring. Yes, it's true that his action was kind of wrong for the reason that he did it without considering the feelings of his fans and the people of Cleveland in particular by not being honest enough to admit earlier than his announcement @ Larry King Live. He should done it in a subtle way! Not the fanfare filled announcement on national TV because it strucked a different chord to many people back in Ohio.

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By jagna88 on June 05, 2014 at 06:02 am

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