If there’s one thing this town hates, it’s a loser. If you don’t believe me, google “Factory of Sadness.”
If there’s anything we hate more than a loser, however, it’s a person who collectively wrongs us. From the obvious big names like John Elway and Jose Mesa to smaller national media personalities, we loathe anyone who either ruins our season or speaks ill of our beloved home.
Or at least we used to.
Maybe I’m not gauging the situation right, but the majority of people in this town have stopped hating LeBron James. With LeBron himself acknowledging “it would be fun to play in front of these fans again,” and the avalanche of stories cascading from the media room at The Q about a possible (ha!) return to Cleveland, there's something that needs to be said.
The Mavericks’ victory in the Finals softened things a lot. Since we never have ticker-tape parades of our own, we instead celebrated that night with spiteful laughter and mocking taunts. We cheered every time he passed the ball away and yelled “Karma” every time a shot clanged off the rim. At local establishments, I’m sure the orders for rounds of shots toasting the King were coming just as fast as Chris Bosh’s tears.
A lot of pent-up worry over Miami winning a title was released as we realized ESPN would no longer be able to pin LeBron’s losing on Cleveland, but rather on himself.
Then came the NBA lockout. Losing the opportunity to see Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson meant very little to us (although, you really should see them). Instead, we dreamed of losing the entire campaign. How great would it be if LeBron lost another year off his prime with nary a championship ring in sight?
Finally, we’ve stopped caring about the NBA as a whole. Overpaid prima-donnas request going to the major markets now, foregoing their superstar status to team up with their friends. Think Magic Johnson would have ever taken less money to play in Boston with Bird? We always liked to pretend players “really didn’t care for each other,” but now it’s obvious there’s no real rivalries anymore. Exhibit A: the circle-jerking handshakes and hugs after every final whistle.
Including the one between Cleveland and its “native son.” Debate all you want whether LeBron truly recognized the link between Akron and Cleveland, but he certainly took advantage of all the perks that went with it while he was here. We were humiliated as a community as his pompous infomercial prompted us to construct signs, write songs, and post YouTube videos begging him to stay.
You really don’t think someone who would be so conniving as to make a spectacle of the entire region that supported him since his SVSM days wouldn’t sit back and laugh about how great all that attention was, do you?
So when he says, “it would be fun to play in front of these fans again,” I fire right back, I get angrier. Then why did you leave in the first place? If it would be so much fun the second time around, why did you initially abandon us, leave us for down and out, and piss on our faces?
Sorry, I forgot. LeBron thinks that we all are supposed to love him, no matter what. And he's scared and unprepared for the bad-guy role. A WWE heal he could never be.
He’s been told how great he is by all the AAU players and coaches, all the media members, and average fans like me and you for the majority of his life. And now that he’s encountered some difficulty, he wants to mend fences and come cozying back over while we’re still vulnerable.
Cleveland, remember: Payback is still demanded.
Now, I’m not suggesting we go Shylock on LeBron and demand a pound of flesh, but I do hope Clevelanders start to rustle up those dying embers and set a fresh log on the fire. Don’t let his comments on how he is done “being the villain” make you feel sorry for him. Don’t be reminded of the good times we used to have when he says “it would be a great story” if he came back to Cleveland someday.
Don’t think back on how happy you were when he single-handedly beat the Detroit Pistons; remember instead his cocky smile and camera posturing before he announced where he was taking his talents.
Did you forget the Jim Gray questions?
Did you forget the Miami’s circus entrance, the prancing, and careening around the stage?
Did you forget the guarantees of six, seven, eight championships?
This is your wake-up call Cleveland. And you better answer it quick.
Clevelanders don’t tolerate losers; we give the hate back to the people who hate on us. LeBron chose to make his home where there were warmer temperatures and an easier way to a championship. But he’s coming back here tonight. Not to his home; to our home.
When you listen to his empty, self-serving comments, when you see him in that Heat jersey, remember where you’re from.