By Gus Garcia-Roberts and Vince Grzegorek
It all started with four words uttered by a man named Patches: “Shit, I’ll wear anything.”
It’s mid-September and Gus Garcia-Roberts is conducting an experiment on the streets of Miami. The former Scene staffer and current Miami New Times scribe has strayed just a few hundred feet from the King’s new castle: American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat. He is armed with a LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers jersey that has never been worn.
Enter Patches, an ex-con standing in a bombed-out block strewn with groggy homeless. He’s lean and muscular, and he speaks with a strong accent from his native Cuba. He wears mesh shorts, a green bandanna folded over his dead left eye (hence the nickname), a red Pizza Hut hat, and a twig between his teeth. Patches manages to make it all look more badass than bedraggled.
Gus offers him the wine-and-gold jersey, its $59.99 price tag only recently removed. He is all but sure what will happen. Without hesitation and bearing a wide grin, Patches throws it on his bare torso and struts across filthy pavement. A buddy, slouching against a chain-link fence, eyes him enviously.
Patches is the sole test subject. The study’s conclusion: The homeless don’t mind wearing out-of-date sports gear, even if it comes with a little baggage. This may not seem like a groundbreaking epiphany — unless you’re a homeless advocate in Miami.
Two months earlier, “The Decision” left all of us up north with seven years’ worth of suddenly worthless, useless, and utterly unwanted LeBron garb, all of it tinged with the pain of another sports heartache and the nationally televised betrayal at the hands of our Chosen One.
The question, besides Why exactly does God hate us so much?, was what to do with the accumulated bounty of the LeBron years. Seconds after James revealed that he was taking his talents to South Beach, one natural option became clear: Fire. A live shot of an improvised jersey bonfire was even depicted on a split-screen during the program, alongside James’ semi-shocked face.
Thanks to the expansion-era Browns and the trade-happy Indians, we have long been a people accustomed to sporting jerseys of players long departed from our fertile shores. But this was different. These would never be worn here again. These were burning effigies before ESPN could cut to commercial.
You'll be happy to know that 1) Over 100 items were collected, 2) They are all now in Miami, 3) More specifically, they've been given out to Miami's homeless.
The full story about the Wino and Gold LeBron Jersey Drive is being written as we speak. Look for it soon.
In the meantime, this photo is just a taste of what's to come.
"King James" is the third in a series including "Air Jordan" and "Kobe". About the New Balance shoe artwork: "The leg is severed because the brand becomes more important than the player as the ever popular shoe culture aims to package the experience. I had my early Air Jordan's stolen and ever since then I have tried to recreate that experience in art. The severed leg is me getting my shoes stolen. I guess Cleveland feels that way now..."
Deep, man, deep.
These pipe cleaner artworks aren't like voodoo dolls, by chance, are they? Any chance Porcella created this the day before LeBron hurt his hammy? Because if so, he should do, like, 972 more.
Jackie Kasburg, a senior at Doylestown Chippewa , had quite the night last Friday.
It began when she got her first playing time on the varsity football team, kicking three extra points in Chippewa's loss to 55-27 loss to Rittman.
That in itself was no small feat. Kasburg hadn't kicked a football until three weeks prior when she asked her father to teach her. The request came after Kasburg noticed that Chippewa's football team was, simply, not very good. Figuring she could do no worse than the boys who produced zero wins to that point in the season, she decided to lend a hand, er... foot.
The day after her one and only lesson, Kasburg tried out for the team during practice. She outperformed the starting kicker and her coach had no choice but to give her the job.
Wolf said Kasburg was able to outkick Mark Bramley, the first-string player they had been using for field goals and PATs (point after touchdowns). Coupled with her sincere attitude about helping the team, Wolf made Kasburg the starting place-kicker.
"She approached me about kicking two weeks into the season," Wolf said. "She outkicked Bramley in practice. She's a solid kicker, who made a 43-yard field goal in practice, but we can't get a touchdown to let her do her thing.
"For what we're trying to create here, she's got all the qualities. She's as good for the program as we've got right now."
And if that wasn't enough, Kasburg was crowned homecoming queen after the game.
If players are scanning the stands for fetching young females during games, it stands to reason that security guards are doing the same thing, and why wouldn't they?
They're standing there, backs turned toward the game, just staring out into the seats. Could get boring. So, yeah, they're glancing around not just for any trouble that might be brewing, but also for some eye candy to keep themselves entertained.
One security guard who worked the Browns game in Cleveland on October 3 must have found something he liked because he got on Craigslist's Missed Connections board and posted a query to a young lass he noticed during the game. It's not enough that he's getting paid to stand there and look menacingly at drunken idiots, now he wants to use Cleveland Browns Stadium as his personal dating service. Here's what he had to say:
Brown's game oct. 3rd 2010 - m4w - 30 (cleveland)
You, isle 146, seat #4 I think, and either 3rd or 4th row up from the field. Me, goatee, security. We exchanged a few smiles. What did you give away to a gentleman sitting close to you. I know the answer, as well as you do. I have pictures of myself to the lady who gets it right. Even if you are not single, I think this could be a start of a friendship.
There you go, girls. If you were in section 146 and you noticed a goateed security guard eye fucking you for the duration of the Browns' win over the Bengals, he would like to get in touch. On the bright side, you know he's got a job.
Saturday night, Chad Ochocinco tweeted that 85 people would enjoy free dinner on his dime at XO.
Ocho's one of those guys it's hard not to love, especially when the filets are on his credit card and he gathers everyone in prayer at the back of the fancy steakhouse and says, "Dear God, we look good." Yep, gotta thank God for that.
One lucky diner wrote about the experience for NewsNet5. Here's what he had to say.
As soon as he walked in the door, fans mobbed Ochocinco with photo and autograph requests, but he had no problem with it. He welcomed the attention and struck up conversation with the fans as cameras flashed in his face.
He walked through the restaurant and thanked everybody for coming, and then brought the group together for a prayer. It was tough to hear him during the prayer, but the part that stuck out is when he said, “Dear God, we look good.”
He joined a family during the meal, and occasionally made his rounds through the restaurant to joke around with the fans, take pictures and shake hands. Despite the mob scene, he made sure to personally greet every person in the restaurant.
The price tag for Ocho? At about $40 a person for food, plus liquor on top, No. 85 was probably looking at a tab of around $10,000.
Why the move to ESPN?
Windhorst: They approached me a few months ago and it really took awhile for them to figure out what the vision of this thing was going to be. I really didn't know if I wanted to go. Regardless of what people think, it wasn't a snap decision. It wasn't like it's easy to leave your home and it's not like we're going to be welcomed with open arms in Miami. There's a lot of acrimony that surrounds that beat right now, a lot of negativity. It wasn't an easy decision. It took ESPN making a historical commitment from a national outlet to a team to do this. They're really doing something here they've never done before, and I believe the interest in that team is going to be higher than the interest in any NBA team in history. Whether they end up holding that interest for more than a couple years is yet to be determined.
It had to be a really attractive offer to leave. I told the people at the Plain Dealer this, that there's probably no other newspaper job in the country I would leave for. I was that happy in Cleveland. I got great support there, so it had to be a really special opportunity. I had other offers come up that I bypassed, and it really took being part of something special to leave. But it's also something I stewed over.
Are you worried at all about Heat overload on that Heat page with ESPN's blitz of coverage?
Windhorst: It definitely has to be dealt with. For as much difficulty as there is, you can't deny the interest, even at the PD. Stories about LeBron James get huge amounts of traffic on the website. Commenters say, "Why are you running these stories?" and the comments are negative in general, but the hit numbers show people do care. And nationally, the hit numbers at ESPN and the viewer ratings convinced them people really do care. We're going to take criticism for the level of coverage, and whether or not we make anybody happy or not, we're responding to the desire in the market. We'll see if it works. We think it will. We think the interest will meet the demand.
People in Cleveland seem to really love your work and are taking this a little personally.
Windhorst: It was a really hard decision. My preference would have been to continue to cover the Cavs like the last two years with LeBron on it. Last year I tried to report as down the middle as I could. I tried to report as many facts as I could. There were so many others offering their opinions on the situation. I personally wish the facts were that he resigned. I think there's a collection of great people at the Cavs organization who have taken opportunities outside the organization once LeBron moved on. I think everyone should realize how special the situation was over the last few years. I'm not moving on because I don't think the Cavs will be an interesting story. I'm moving on because I think there's a story that supersedes them. I can't envision a job I would have taken besides this one. You have to be careful making absolute statements, but I've interviewed with the New York Times, I've interviewed at Yahoo! and other internet sites, but I really can't say for sure I would have taken any other job offered to me besides the offer to join ESPN.
I'm really appreciative of the people that enjoyed my work and I know this upsets a lot of them. But I have a lot of family in South Florida and I've had real estate in South Florida for the last four years. It's a business decision as well as a personal one. It's not just to follow LeBron. I know people won't believe that, but I'm covering the Heat. Obviously LeBron's a huge factor in that, but it's not like I'm just going to some city I don't have ties to.
What do you think it's going to be like December 2?
Windhorst: I really hope that the Cavs let the fans have their say and don't edge them along. The team doesn't need to have the reputation of being vindictive; they need to move on. I hope the fans do it and get over it, because if you do something to give the city a black eye, you're only hurting yourself in the long run — making yourself look bad and swinging national sympathy LeBron. Maybe they don't care about that. Let them know what you think. You don't have to be respectful, but you have to keep in mind what your reputation is. The Cavs are going to have decades more of playing basketball here, and you have to keep that in mind. I hope the fans voice their displeasure, but I hope it doesn't turn into something of a black mark for the city.