Blog Entry

LeBron James breaks Cleveland's heart

Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:49 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:12 pm
Miami Heat forward LeBron James returns to Cleveland on Thursday for the first time after leaving the Cavaliers during free agency. Posted by Ben Golliver The anticipatory coverage of LeBron James' return to Cleveland for the first time since he bolted the Cavaliers to take his talents to South Beach and the Miami Heat is throttling up in a big way. There are plenty of fascinating reads out there, but nothing quite as catchy as this video, set to the tune of "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," which recounts James' Cleveland days, The Decision and some of his early highlights as a member of the Miami Heat. Wright Thompson explores the emotional damage James' decision to leave had on the city of Cleveland with, among others, Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich. 
Kucinich knows his city -- he was mayor at the low point in 1978 and has represented it in Congress since 1997 -- and he knew as LeBron was announcing his plans how much it would hurt. He listened to The Decision in his car, parked in his driveway. He couldn't go inside until it was done. When he turned his car off, he was heartbroken for his city. I ask him: Did LeBron not realize how people would react?
"We have to remember," he says, as we navigate Cleveland's streets, "he's still a very young man. The Scottish poet Burns once wrote: O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us, to see oursels as others see us. Even though I'm sure he's very aware of the status he has here, I don't think that he could have possibly imagined the close emotional connection people had with him."
Meanwhile, Ohio resident Gregg Doyel of argues that Cleveland fans should try to control their anger and frustration on Thurday night, when James steps foot inside Quicken Loans Arena for the first time as a member of the Miami Heat.
Believe me, Cleveland, I understand your hurt. Felt it myself, as viscerally as I've ever felt anything about any sports story. When he left last summer, James left in a way that stained all involved, himself included. He kept everyone in the dark, even his -- especially his -- loyal following in Cleveland. Lots of us misread that as good news. No way, we thought, would James kiss off Cleveland on national television without so much as a hint that it was coming. He couldn't be that stupid. He couldn't be that cruel.
Turns out, yes he could. Now it's our turn. James threw the first shot, a sucker-punch we didn't see coming. Now comes Cleveland's retaliation, but you know how it goes with these things: The retaliator always looks worse. The innocent victim -- Cleveland, in this case -- overreacts and becomes the bad guy, allowing the real bad guy to sneak out the side door. Don't let it happen that way.
Finally, Bill Reiter notes that all the hurt feelings are a Cleveland thing, and that James' hometown of Akron still shows him love.
“He belonged to Akron, but we loaned him to Cleveland,” says Patricia Idley, 63, who’s having breakfast and telling LeBron stories with a handful of like-minded women. “If anyone should be mad, it’s Akron. But we aren’t. Because we let him go! Because we understand he had a job to do!”
The grandmothers' love for LeBron hasn't gone up in dust. These women, part of a club of more than 200 grandmothers who love LeBron and do charity work in his name, are snug and safe on their side of the border, where they can says things like, “I loved his new commercial! ‘What should I do?’ Perfect!”
Whether or not James is ever forgiven by the city of Cleveland, there is no question that Thursday night, as James himself has admitted, will be an emotional rollercoaster. One with, a lot, a lot, a lot of boos, and a colossal numbers of eyeballs glued to the tube for the biggest moment in the NBA since The Decision. All this for a couple of fringe playoff teams. Pretty remarkable.
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