I went to see LeBron James in person on Tuesday night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. It was awesome. As I have joked with crowds all week, “I want to see him in Cleveland before he follows me back to NY.” In all honesty I hope LeBron does not go to New York or any other city. He belongs in Cleveland and as much as any athlete can, he belongs to Cleveland.
The people in this city may have already crossed into disturbing hero worship, bordering on something out of the film The Man Who Would Be King (look it up), but it is clear that the Cleveland Cavalier fans have a unique and special relationship with LeBron James that has all but been lost in sports. Derek Jeter has it with NY, but if he had merely performed well, without winning a title he would not have it. LA Fans love Kobe, but more because of their star worship. But LeBron is from Ohio. He has yet to win anything, but the Cleveland area loves him as if he is family. They get angry when you suggest he may leave for NY because they don’t believe he will do that. If he were never to win in Cleveland they’d be disappointed for him. If he were to never win a title in New York, the fans would feel bad for themselves.
Speaking of New York, LeBron should not go to NY because NY doesn’t deserve him. Patrick Ewing was the last hoops superstar in NY (and he does not compare with LeBron’s star power), but many Knick fans (especially the corporate douchebags that flood the Garden during times of success as if they were having an auction of 20-something blond Midwestern transplants) consider Ewing a failure, a choke artist and do not recall the fact that he gave everything he had for 15 years to try and get a title to NY (literally millions of gallons of sweat) . Utah does not treat Malone and Stockton as failures, but many Knick fans still consider Ewing a failure first, a great Knick second.
In fact the Knicks this year have played above expectation (thanks in part to the exceptional play of David Lee – a rare white American star in the NBA – but who the Knicks have continued to portray as a scrappy hustler, in line with typical white stereotypes), but many Knick fans are waiting for next year to show their support when they get star power (seriously NY is starting to feel more like the stereotype that LA has owned for so long – the sporting event is not as important to people as the event surrounding the sport). That is what the Yankees organization banked on when they started selling $2500 dollar tickets to Yankee Games: that New York, a city renowned for its grit and character was actually just becoming another Los Angeles (it is – if I see one more salad place open up with a one word name – “chop’t,” “toss’d,” “crisp” I am going to go postal. These places may very well be in other cities, but they are starting to feel uncomfortably appropriate in NYC). Well, thanks to the economy it turns out NY was not quite ready for $2500 tickets, but $1250 tickets were not so bad. And the addition of LeBron will just further push out many Knick fans who can probably barely afford pre-LeBron ticket prices.
However, Cleveland is the real reason for LeBron to stay. He is to Cleveland what General Motors is to Detroit. If he starts to pack up I feel like it will devastate the city. The pre-game theatrics at the Cavs game included incredible movies and pyrotechnics for God’s sake! I have been to 6 NBA arenas (not yet to Mecca in Salt Lake City) and these were by far the best I have ever seen (though the Bulls’ intros in the 90s are untouchable, as far as I am concerned, for theatrical originality, culminating with the 6’6″ guard from Nooooorth Caaarolinaaa…”
There have also been rumors that Nike, in light of Tiger Woods’ sexscapades, was encouraging LeBron to go to New York so that they could have Kobe and LeBron on the coasts and build up that campaign further to stem some of the losses that Tiger may/will incur. It is bad enough that politicians are all owned by corporations, but now athletes are being dictated to by them as well? I would love to have LeBron tell the owner of the Knicks and any other big market team a la Michael Corleone in Godfather Part II: “We are all part of the same hypocrisy Mr. Dolan, but don’t think that that extends to my family.”
Because Cleveland is like LeBron’s family. In fact, Cleveland is like LeBron’s wife and children that have stood by him as he built his reputation and skills and career. They have done everything to make him happy. If he goes to New York it will be like he is leaving his family for the hottest of the many of the gold digging tramps that roam the clubs and high society functions of New York. Although Bill Simmons, ESPN’s “The Sports Guy” likes to call Baron Davis Teen Wolf, for this discussion I would like to call LeBron Teen Wolf. And he has a choice – he can date Boof, the cute, loyal and real person and be a success in life and as a person, or he can go for Pamela Wells, the blond who has emerged only after the onset of Teen Wolf’s new found success. NYC has enough guys that would go for Pamela Wells – LeBron should do the right thing for everyone and stay with Boof. But if he leaves, it falls on his doorstep and he will have killed one of the last real fairy tales in sports.