Archive for the ‘Cleveland’ Category

After thinking through what has transpired over the last 24 hours, if not past 2 months, I have a few thoughts about “The Decision” that I would like to share.

First and foremost, I’d start with Lebron. I’m shocked, angered and saddened by his choice (and I’m still not sure in what order). It is hard to fathom someone from our own backyard a) selling out to essentially play second fiddle in Wade County and b) humiliating us on national television. The fact that his departure means we won’t win anymore isn’t the most upsetting part either, it’s the simple fact that if one of our own won’t stay, what does that say to the rest of the world?

I like to think I’m a well-versed historian of the game – I think his legacy is tarnished, no matter if they win 5+ titles in Miami. Would MJ have left the Bulls to join Isiah, would Bird have left the Celtics to join Magic? To be the best, you have to beat the best…it is that simple. All the reports that have now surfaced since his decision seem to indicate one thing, he either didn’t think he could do it alone because he wasn’t the leader we believed him to be (i.e. he needed Wade more than Wade needed him), or he never had any intention of staying – I don’t know which is worse.

Still, the man had the right to leave. The way he went about it though, was unacceptable. Not only did he do it only national television, he spent the last 2-years stringing this city along. For the past 7-years we gave, but for the past 2-years we gave even more – we loved him and praised him more than his own family. However, our unconditional love was never respected; he flirted with the media, he tormented us with free agency, he went out of his way to say he loved us and we had the “edge,” and when we had the opportunity to improve, he baffled us with his lack of commitment. How were we supposed to attract top talent, if we couldn’t even get our own superstar to commit to his own organization?

I don’t blame Dan Gilbert for his rant and letter. It wasn’t perfect, but it was raw, sincere and honest. To be introspective, that has been the one thing that has been lacking in this city when it came to Lebron. He was hurt, and he had every right to express his feelings. I don’t think everything he said is true (nor do I agree with his approach), but I don’t believe he will regret what he said, nor will I be ashamed of how he said it. He stood up for those people who needed hope, something Lebron never did…

Regardless, I was hurt when he left. I wanted him to stay because I cared. I won’t even try to deny the fact that I’ve cried many times since his departure. Furthermore, when I heard stories about children crying and asking their parents why he left, it broke my heart. Sports figures shouldn’t be put on a pedestal (and I argued too many people did this with Tiger), but Lebron meant something else to this city. He signified a hope that people from our area could do great things (for better or worse, this was especially true in a time where our city needed hope more than anything), and to shatter the dreams of all those around him in such a callous manner, is unacceptable. Regardless of whether or not he wanted to admit it, he developed a unique tie to this city, the fans and our franchise that has never been seen before in sports anywhere else – and even though it is his right, I can’t deny it hurt to see him turn his back…I just never thought it would happen.

Moving forward, I’m sure Lebron will win a title, and Cleveland sports will suffer. But what saddens me the most, is that Cleveland is in such a depressed state that we become defined by these things. It is almost a chicken and egg situation, where we live and die by sports but then forget about who we really are, but because we rest our hope in sports, we lose sight of real hope.

The saying goes, it takes real darkness to reach the dawn. Northeast Ohio is struggling, and there is no doubt about that. We believed Lebron represented hope, we believed that one of our own could do great things and bring glory to our city. It doesn’t feel good being the butt of all jokes, it doesn’t feel good seeing our city struggle, and when it comes to sports, it doesn’t feel good knowing that “the curse” might just be a microcosm of the fate of the city.

Cleveland deserves someone better than Lebron, someone who understands that and is willing to make a sacrifice to make a difference – not only in sports, but in the community. We believed Lebron could be that guy, and maybe, at the end of the day, that is why we are the most hurt. We had faith in a guy, who at the drop of a hat embraced a new city overnight only to say, “this feels right, this feels where I should be.”

But again, maybe after all this, the saying is true: what doesn’t break you only makes you stronger. As a city we’ve always let our sports dictate our happiness (and in this case, a single athlete), but maybe, now it is time that we also look in the mirror and say we can be great ourselves. We don’t need to put all our faith in 25-year old athlete (who when push comes to shove can cowardly run to his buddies), but rather we can put our faith in our colleges, in our innovators, and in our leaders. We all hate living in a small-market, we hate the national nicknames for our city, but what if we change that? Maybe then, just maybe, we can put ourselves in a position where not only do we have an attractive city, but then, what Clevelanders want most of all, our teams can compete year-in and year-out without the fear that we will be ditched for greener pastures.

Some might believe this is corny, cheesy or overly optimistic, but I do believe sports can sometimes be more than just a game. I fear, however, that in Cleveland we allow ourselves to get too involved waiting and watching until “the curse” is broken. If instead, we put faith in ourselves and support our own development, then maybe, just maybe, we can break our curse without just watching and waiting for the next heartbreak.

But again…these are just my thoughts.

As an addendum, I’ve learned 2 more things since “The Decision” transpired:

1) After watching Lebron’s interviews, both on ESPN and in American Airlines Arena, I do not believe he had any intention of staying unless we had won. Problem is his failure in leadership resulted in our failure as a team.

2) With all the national spotlight on Dan Gilbert’s letter vs. Lebron’s decision, I think people have lost sight of the real victims in this situation, the fans. Children, teenagers and even adults have given all they had to Lebron for 7-years, and were not even acknowledged with a “thank you.” Because we cared so much, it hurt much more than most people can ever fathom.

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