I don’t write out of character often, but I think I owe it to you all to sit down and be as bare and honest with you as I can because of the turd-rito that we just got served at Señor Yames’ Cafe. I can be bare and honest because I’m sitting on my couch naked, and I want you to know that I’m determined to get through this even if my laptop burns a hole through my thigh. It doesn’t help that I keep getting emotional and stopping because this is my last post here*.
Very often sports and our favorite teams are a diversion for us. Though we have athletes who represent our city, we more or less are aware that they are just guys who are really good at what they do and happen to play in the city that they happen to play in. Even when they sign multi-year deals and do charity work around the city, we kind of know that they’re more or less mercenaries or sorts, playing for our team because we pay their bills.
There are times when the players that we cheer for transcend that. Even when a player isn’t from Cleveland or the nebulous region that is Northeast Ohio, we can find ways to latch on. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the tall lurpy white guy that everyone loves because we’ve seen him grow and battle back (after cursing him for a while – if you’re older than about 30, don’t say that you never did curse him or the fact that he was drafted). Also, he’s white – and hey, if Ohio’s got one thing besides corn, it’s a lot of white people. Joshua Cribbs grew up in DC, but (!!!) he went to Kent State, so we all love him as well, because there’s a sort of NE Ohio tie that binds. And if we can claim a star player because he went to a state school in Ohio, we’ll do it.
I’m not going to go into all the details, because I’ve shared them before, but I never was a big NBA fan growing up. The Cavs were an entity that I was aware of and wanted to see do well, but I never had an NBA arena experience until I was a junior in college. I was a freshman at OSU when LeBron got drafted by the Cavs, and didn’t really pay them much attention until they made the playoffs in 04-05. I payed more attention because the team was doing better. I’ll admit – it’s not the sexiest thing to cop to (but that’s OK – I’m still not wearing pants). But, I started to have my heartstrings tugged by this team.
This is largely due to one man. I’m not going to say that I started watching the Cavs more only because they were my hometown team, or because they were doing better than before – it’s largely because of LeBron James.
And not unlike others here, the NBA more or less just died for me.
That being said, I went about things much differently than others. I scarcely commented here over the past few weeks, because I knew things were going too ham for my liking and I didn’t want to deal with it. I’ve been well-aware of what’s been reported, but reports are reports. To me, nothing was set in stone until it came from the man’s mouth. I avoided twitter for three whole days, which for me is an eternity.
The issue for me hasn’t been the constant variance in things reported. As I said, reports are reports. The thing I’ve been trying to avoid is the people. Who do I mean by “the people”? Pretty much everybody. The people who, not unlike all of us here, care deeply about this team, this city, and the other thingamajigs that can be lumped in. The people who write about the NBA. The people who already didn’t like LeBron with whom I spent a lot of time defending certain facets of his being. The fever pitch emotions all around were something that just became too much for me to handle. So I just kind of stepped back.
Essentially, I tried to devoid my life of all of the emotion surrounding the situation. And I succeeded, until I went to a friend’s house, dropped off our dogs before a weekend trip**, and sat down to chat. We chatted for an hour and a half, and then the TV got flipped on to ESPN. So we sat, and we watched. And I undid every single thing that I had hoped to accomplish with my “Hey bros don’t let ESPN bother you” article.
I got sucked in, in a room with three other people.
As we watched – and heard the words South Beach, they kind of just rung there in my ears, hollow. I said some things that my mother wouldn’t be proud of, poured myself another drink (Tanqueray this time, because my buddy had finished off the Jack), and sat down trying to process it all.
And I don’t think I could. I still don’t know if I have. But as we sat watching the night’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance, I felt that last few years of my life that I’ve devoted to the NBA go floating off into the ether. I really don’t know if the NBA will ever win me back.
In some ways, I think that I may have come much closer to the standard “Cleveland fan” today. In general, I prefer to be rather even-keel. I really don’t like the idea of oscillating often between extreme emotions. Even when things like this happen, I try to prepare myself for the worst. I try to be as analytical and realistic in my expectations with my sports teams. I try to keep them as a diversion.
This time, it didn’t work.
We all knew that the roster in Cleveland certainly is flawed. But I also think that we all would agree that the smart moves for LeBron that weren’t located in Ohio would have been Chicago or maaaaybe New Jersey. Both teams have young cores. The move to Miami just seems like a bunch of delusional guys who think that Voltron is a real life thing, and I can somberly inform you that it is not.
But here we all are – stabbed in the back (with a smug smile) by LeBRO. Pretty unchill move. A move that could have been handled pretty well had it not been pumped up to the extent that it was. So, whatever. I’ve got plenty of profanities, but really at the end of the day they don’t accomplish anything (aside from getting me angry looks from people). Thanks a lot, LeBRO. I hope you and team Voltron get beat in the Finals by Team Durantulas. That’s the extent of my anger and ill-wishes.
I don’t really know how to wrap this all up. I’ve certainly written posts while much more intoxicated in the past, or when I’ve been more emotional (miss u, Vic) – but never more shocked than right now. The only thing that I know deep down is that I don’t want this to scar me and change me for the worse. I’m really not all that old, you know, for the earth. I’m 26 (and a half!).
I know deep down for realsies is that it’s never a good thing to be that old, frumpy, joyless person who thinks that it’s their job to poop on everyone’s parade. Bitterness and cynicism rarely accomplish anything of note. I sincerely hope that I won’t become such a person. If that happens to me, I imagine that I will view this as a failure to live a happy life.
I hope that none of us become severely embittered because of this – living in a downtrodden, angry place is not any sort of way to live our lives. So as hard as it may be, let’s all find something that gives us a place to look for solace. List them in the comments. I’m serious on this one – as hokey and chintzy as it may be, it also should be cathartic (this paragraph should serve as explanation for the photo above).
My name is Denny. I’m 26. Every once in a while, I find joy while running. Typically, it has nothing to do with the run itself, but is a seemingly parallel occurrence. It’s running west towards a deep red sunset that takes up the entire sky. It’s a 3 year old, walking with their parents, catching a glimpse of me running by – and running along with me for 5, 10 seconds. It’s little moments like these that I’ve found myself taking an almost profound joy in, both in their simplicity and in all their complexities as well. These little moments are still going to happen. These moments aren’t going to stop simply because LeBRO left the Cavs.
These moments, Mister James, are something that you’re never going to be able to take away from me.
I want my last post to be something positive. I don’t really know if I’ve accomplished anything worthwhile here in the midst of all of my inane ramblings and photoshops, but I want to right now with this. I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun writing here and will continue to have some fun commenting around these parts – but really that’s all secondary to the task at hand right now. Let’s make this into something that helps us smile, at least for a second or two. The sun came up today. And you know what? It will tomorrow.
I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things.
* Briefly: I’m theoretically six months away from obtaining my PhD. I need to get done in this six months, and I need to earn in. To do this, I need to minimize distractions in my life that aren’t science-related. This is something that I’ve thought of over the past few weeks, and something that has been known behind the scenes for most of this week. I’ll still be around commenting and on Twitter some, but I won’t be posting any more – all totally on my own volition. Sometimes there are more important things in life than photoshopping Kelvin Sampson’s head onto Bruce Willis’ body.
<** Please don’t destroy the Turnpike this weekend during the rampage. I need to use it for driving my car from DC to Indiana and then back and stuff.
Denny is a Northern Ohio native and Ohio State alumnus who currently lives in (and therefore blogs from) Washington, DC. Because he lives in the District, he clearly does not understand anything about Cleveland sports. You can follow Denny on Twitter.