By Dennis J. Freeman
LeBron James much anticipated return to Cleveland turned out to be just another NBA basketball game. And not a very good one, mind you. James, not fazed by the constant chorus of boos raining down from the Quicken Loans Arena, did his thing as usual, scoring 38 points as the Miami Heat embarrassed the Cleveland Cavaliers and quieted his critics with a wondrous performance.
Now go and hide back under the rock from where you came from, Cleveland. James’ arrival back to the place he made famous brought out a rash of ill-comments about his departure from Cleveland to Miami after he spent seven seasons toiling for the Cavaliers, taking the team to the NBA championship and helping the organization get much needed face time on national television.
Before James came to Cleveland as a 17-year-old wunderkind, there weren’t too many people who knew what the Cavaliers team jerseys even looked like. They still don’t. When James left Cleveland, he took more than his talents: he took the limelight away from a city that is high in crime and economic deprivation. He took millions of dollars out of the hands of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who thought that James was going to be his ATM machine forever.
What James and his Miami Heat did in front of a national television audience was expose Gilbert and the Cavaliers for the fraud that they are. For years, media pundits and television analysts kept saying how much a championship-caliber team the Cavaliers were. Well, after a 28-point blowout loss on their own home floor to the “enemy” it is crystal clear that James was the lone driving force for that woeful squad.
The truth of the matter is that the Cleveland Cavaliers suck as a professional basketball team, and they will for years to come.
And this is what drives me crazy about Cleveland Cavaliers fans. They’re nuts. They should be grateful they even had James for the seven years he played for them. No, James does not need to apologize to anyone for leaving. He doesn’t owe the media, Gilbert or anyone else from the Cavaliers organization an explanation why decided to take his talents to Miami. People change jobs all the time. Professional sports owners trade and get rid of people all of the time without giving players a heads up notice.
This is why I am sick and tired of this whole LeBron James debacle. It has now reached the heights of stupidity and the absurd. A mole hill has turned into a mountain of hearsay, rumorville and innuendo and awful reporting. The media has lost its mind by the continuously hyping of James’ return back to Cleveland with fear talk and brash idiocy predictions about what to expect when the two-time NBA MVP showed his face in the city he left behind months ago.
What the media continues to do is give half the truth to James’ situation. Hardly anyone mentions the fact that James left millions of dollars on the table and took a pay cut when he signed with Miami. Leading up to the Miami-Cleveland game, mostly of all I heard on talk radio and some national television crews was a lot of fear-mongering reporting. Listening to these idiots, you would have thought that James was some sort of head of state running in fear of his life. James is a basketball player, people. He is an entertainer.
But since he went South, words like betrayal, liar, punk move and others that can’t be mentioned in this column, has stuck to James as if he committed a crime. Perhaps in the eyes of Cleveland Cavaliers followers, he has.
Stoking that fire more has been Gilbert, who sent out an angry diatribe to season ticket-holders after James left the building this summer. And yet, in another foolish move to inflame the team’s fan base against James, Gilbert has gone out of his way to see if the Miami Heat, tampered with his-then property before the NBA superstar bolted from C-Town. People are just not bitter that James left Cleveland as soon as the free agency market opened up this summer, they’re downright angry.
But this is what happens when you treat people like a god. It’s nobody’s fault but yours, Cleveland. I find it incredulous the way people worship and idolize professional athletes and celebrities. But Cleveland has taken idol worship to another level as if James is the one responsible for putting food on their tables and keeping a roof over their heads.
The burning of James’ jerseys, the death threats, the childish taunting by the team’s owner (Gilbert), overturning vehicles and the self-righteous indignation of a city has made Cleveland look like a bunch of miserable, hate-filled people who can’t seem to find a life outside of watching James fill up an NBA arena.
It’s time to turn the page, Cleveland and move on with your life. James has.