April 23, 2014

More Than A Player

As LeBron James nears free agency, we leave you with this video from the Cavaliers official site. I’d be lying if I said it was easy to keep a dry eye while watching it, and it serves as a reminder that while basketball is just a game, LeBron James in Cleveland is about more than basketball and more than a player.

Lost in all of this over the last month has been what LeBron truly means to Ohio. Sure, the talking heads have found it empowering to wax poetic about poor old little Cleveland and the fans here. But the focus has been on money, on Championships, on influence, and on status. But there are real people involved here. In a way nobody outside of Ohio can truly understand, LeBron James means more to us than something as petty as winning some NBA games and maybe a Championship or two. For us, this is about pride and a way of life. 

If LeBron chooses to stay, sure, fans in Chicago, Miami, New York, Brooklyn/New Jersey, Los Angeles, Dallas, and anywhere else that once imagined him in their uniform will be let down and disappointed. But for them, life goes on and they’re on to the next one. If LeBron leaves Cleveland, the profound effect it will have on literally hundreds of thousands of people in Ohio will be heartbreaking beyond words.

We’ve lost heroes before. We’ve seen Bernie Kosar shipped out of town. We saw Albert Belle chase the highest dollar to our bitter in-conference rivals. We watched Manny Ramirez get ripped away from us on national TV in an ESPN special. We had to sit through Jim Thome’s tearful press conference as he was introduced in Philadelphia and thus shattering the hearts of the Tribe faithful and officially marking an end to an era. CC Sabathia made it clear he wasn’t coming back and had to be traded. Victor Martinez was sent away against his will. The list goes on much longer than this.

In some ways, all of those moves were able to be rationalized. But this one? LeBron? No sir, this one was going to be different. He was one of us. He understood our pain. He understood our passion and what sports means to Ohio, and particularly Northeast Ohio. We may not have all the amenities to offer that other cities with brighter lights and more sparkling economies have to offer, but we have always had our sports teams. To have one of our own, though, who grew up in our back yard rise to this level and to give us this gift of the past 7 years is more than we could have asked for.

So to lose LeBron James isn’t to just lose a basketball player. It runs deeper than that. If we can’t even keep LeBron James in town, then you almost begin to wonder what’s the point of sports in Cleveland. There’s a lot of unnecessary hyperbole here, and yes, life will go on in Cleveland long after LeBron James is finished here (whenever that may be). But watching that video about 5 times in a row, I was reminded again why I care so much.

LeBron has given us a lot over the last 7 years and perhaps it’s unfair for us to ask more of him. Nothing, though, is unfair about having a desire to continue on this journey where we left off and to continue to actually enjoy our cold winter evenings just a little bit more as we cheer for LeBron and the Cavaliers.

As LeBron is about to begin this free agency journey in a couple of hours, I truly hope he finds what he’s looking for, and I hope he finds it here in Cleveland. I’m glad the Cavaliers organization shared this video with us to remind me of what was at stake and to remind me why LeBron was different and why he belongs in Cleveland. Here’s to hoping he feels the same way.

  • todd

    word up.

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    siiiiiighhhhhh…… for one last hour he’s still our homegrown hero.

  • Shamrock

    It has been a great seven years – they flew by – it seems like just yesterday the Cavaliers ping pong ball landed them the #1 pick and LeBron was sporting his white suit on draft night. Sigh if not for Mike Brown who knows.

  • Adam

    I’m gonna be honest… That video made me so proud of these last several years, but if LeBron goes, it will feel to me exactly the same as when Modell ripped my heart out.

  • jimkanicki

    frowns did a nice job outlining the top 10 reasons for bron to stay this afternoon. http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/2010/06/top-ten-reasons-why-lebron-james-should.html

    embedded there is a set of words that (i hope) are more relevant than anything the wise heads from the WWL have considered:

    “…a sense of place — contentment, a personal stability — should result from an an athlete (or anyone) continuing to become woven into the fabric of a community.”

    the word is WOVEN.

  • ZachinBoston

    Well, i had built up at least some level of numbness against this whole thing, trying to rationalize that lebron needs to figure out whats best for himself and all that, etc…then i watched that video

    yeah, its all gone. Its gonna be really hard to watch him walk away if he chooses to do so

  • LeBrowns23

    Well, All I can say it was a great 7 years..it will be painful when he ends up in Chi(and I have to admit their team, especially with room for a second max FA, would be hard to turn down if the goal is winning)

    I wish I could say he’s going to stay here…My gutt up until this last few weeks has always told me he was staying. Maybe it’s the Clevelander in me, maybe it’s the fact I’ve to many bad sports moments, maybe it’s because I’ve NEVER seen a Cleavland player actually stay, but I’ve been feeling worse and worse about it..that dang video just punched me in the guts.

    No matter what James will always be home grown, but it won’t be the same without him here.

  • grose

    lets watch a video of lebron being dunked on from last summer now to make me feel better

  • bobby

    daannnngg…. did you see how young he looked in his first game? that video.. dang.

  • Team Wallace

    Marc Spears is reporting that a 3-yr deal with Scott will be finalized tomorrow.

    holy hell, i hope this makes LeBron happy.

  • Dat Dude

    I think Lebron should stay in Cleveland just for his sanity. Yeah if any of us saw him in public we would feel like a 12 year old girl at a n’sync concert. But shortly after we would feel like were just seeing a really really really famous neighbor and friend. We’ll take pictures, want an autograph all those things fans do but if he goes to Chi, NY, NJ or Mia all hell will let loose. Fans would pummel him like videos of him going to that party with Jay-Z. The paparazzi will be outside the gate of his house 24/7. I really hope he’s considered this for at least a few seconds.

  • 5KMD

    Man that no look pass to Boozer early in the video was nice. Should have happened a lot more than it did.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    We are about to find out whether loyalty really means anything to him, or whether it was all just a charade.

    I hope he stays, but if he doesn’t…life will go on. (We’re less than a month from Browns’ camp…)

  • cninja

    i just want him to make up his GD mind already. Its been 2-3 years of incessant speculation.

    if he’s going to go I wish he would just stick the blade in quick, I don’t think I can take many more of adrian wojarnowski’s BS articles

  • Bernie D.

    That video got me, too.

    There’s just no way he can leave, and if he does, then it was all a lie anyways and he’s really not what we thought he was.

    I really, really do not want to dislike LeBron

  • Rich

    Lol, bernie I feel the same way. Im not going to use the loyalty card on him, because fans are only loyal when they like it, but I really don’t want to hate this guy. However, if he leaves, I’ll not only be required to but it will just be something that comes naturally.

  • Shamrock

    Loyalty has no place in sports, it’s a bogus concept. I find it hard to “hate” a guy who single handedly saved your basketball franchise who for seven years carried it on his back. The guy brought it every game while taking a beating. It’s not his fault he was virtually a one man team. For that you need to look at management. After that look at coaching. Varejao’s career isn’t the only one made by LBJ.

  • Vare-A-Jay

    Dan Gilbert’s “sales pitch” should simple be him popping that video in to Lebron’s dvd (probably blueray) player.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    That was kind of what I was thinking, too, Jay. I don’t know how LeBron couldn’t be incredibly moved by that video.

  • Mousey

    The point is that it is a SPORT! And by nature sports are competative. It’s not about the money. It’s not about the loyalty. It’s about using your God-given talent to play to win. How can we expect a man who is possibly the greatest athlete of our time languish year after year and not take it all the way to win a champoinship? He’s done a lot for Cleveland, and I’m willing to bet that if he stayed for 5 more years, never won a championship and THEN decided to go elsewhere no one would care. He is in the prime playing years of his life and he deserves to go where he can excel with the support of a consistently good team.

  • Yerfdog

    im crying my eyes out

  • 5KMD

    Shamrock,

    “The guy brought it every game while taking a beating. It’s not his fault he was virtually a one man team. For that you need to look at management.”

    I personally thought that management did everything it could to bring the Cavs roster to the top of the league. Especially considering LBJ refused to sign long term and hurt their chances of signing top free agents. They also had very few good draft picks to work with because of the Cavs record and the previous inept regime.

    Could you specifically tell me what you would have done differently as the Cavs GM the last 4-5 years? A lot of people are now bashing Ferry and Gilbert, but no one is offering specifics on what should have been done. Most folks applauded the moves when they were made.

  • Goat2321

    I was at the Q that night Andy hit the three pointer and Bron jumped into his arms. I knew right there it would make every video like this. For once, one of his teammates backed him up. I’ll remember that moment, that game, that feeling for the rest of my life.

  • Matt#2

    5KMD

    I object to the notion that consumer criticism of the end product must entail specifics of what the guys in charge could have done. Consumers are rightly armed with comparisons to other end-products in the marketplace.

    The guys in charge should have, with their in-charge-ness and expertise, known what could have been done and done it. That’s why they get the big bucks.

  • Matt#2

    What I am saying there is that Ferry and Gilbert were in a better position to create and know options than was Joe Fan.

  • 5KMD

    Matt,

    Right. And fans don’t understand the exact nature of the salary cap.

    And fans don’t know what calls were made and what deals were talked about. Maybe DF and DG tried to get other things done and barely missed out.

    My point is, what more could they have done? At some point, the GM’s job is done and the players have to go out and get it done. 1 team has won a trophy the last two years. One. Does that mean every other GM and owner is a failure?

    And if you think they could have done more then let me know what that is, making sure you follow cap rules and all the salaries match up.

  • Matt#2

    5KMD

    Whether they could have done better I do not know.

    I think that they made a ton of money (that they would not have otherwise made) on the notion of title runs, and that the centerpiece of the notion was an already-in-place Lebron James. I think that the lion’s share of the money came from fans who do not know squat about salary caps and other rules.

    I think that Gilbert and Ferry understood all that and said, “thank you very much.”

    Now that some fans say, “hey, this notion of title runs did not pan out,” to say on Gilbert’s behalf, “hey, our hands were tied (except for the hand we take your money with), it was always a huge longshot because of XYZ.”

    Gilbert and Ferry are not being evaluated on the basis of adequacy under the circumstances when dollars have been lavishly spent by fans with fueled expectations – “why not fuel the expectation, it makes these gobs of money come in!”

    They profited on the notion of getting it done and are being reevaluated on the basis of getting it done.

    That’s how it turns.

  • Matt#2

    I don’t know how much I want to lump Ferry into the Gilbert discussion.

  • The Bambino

    …aaaaand the Cavs have just as many rings as when he came here 7 years ago.

  • mgbode

    @29 – if you can’t appreciate a player that hasn’t won a championship, then I suggest you don’t cheer for Cleveland sports.

  • 5KMD

    Matt,

    I guess we just disagree then.

    I think there are some people that frequent this site that should just root for the big market teams in MLB and whatever team happens to be good each year in the salary cap sports.

    The Cavs organization took their shots over the last 4-5 years just like we fans did. It didn’t work out. To bash them now for not giving LBJ what he needed to win is revisionist bs. As I said above, sometimes the players have to just go win the damn thing.

  • MattyFos

    I think the Cavs did everything they could to put the team in a position to win. Mike Brown’s rotations were our downfall. Players shrinking under pressure were our downfall. Working the off-season to make a run for a Championship MAY just be our downfall for the next 5 years.

  • Matt#2

    5KMD

    There is no revisionism, it’s not as though anyone is suing for a refund. Some hindsight is necessary to have foresight now.

    The fans are justified in reevaluating their confidence in Gilbert, not to say that he’s lousy, but to adjust their expectations and be more realistic. The adjusted approach, I reckon, will yield less money for Mr. Gilbert. It’s not bashing, it’s just not going to be as lucrative as the fantasy stuff was.

  • 5KMD

    Matt, fair enough.

    Since this storyline will soon be leaving the main page, I’ll stop my defense here. Good talk guy.

  • Matt#2

    “5KMD”

    a physician that runs 5Ks?

  • BoogeymanIsRuiningWFNY

    I finally got to watch this. Man it got to me.

    Please stay LBJ. Make the world make sense for once!