The King owes you nothing (not even an apology)

Lance Stephenson doing his best to blow in LeBron's ear and blow out the flames on his jersey.

Lance Stephenson doing his best to blow in LeBron’s ear and blow out the flames on his jersey.

After the way free agency went this summer, I think I’m done trying to guess where players will end up. Back in 2009 I was sure LeBron James was staying in Cleveland. There’s no way he would be dumb/insensitive enough to clown his hometown by hosting a television event to announce that he wouldn’t be returning home next season, right?

Yeah, I kinda missed on that prediction. It turns out that when a rich nigga wants you, and Dan Gilbert can’t do nothin for you, LeBron ain’t loyal. So when James opted out of his contract after the Heat lost to the Spurs I figured it was part of a set of advanced maneuvers on his part. James was clearly going to opt out so he and the other members of the big three could restructure their deals so the Heat could afford the talent that would help them win another championship. There’s no way he would go back to kicking it in Cleveland after those pitiful ass fans had burned his jersey and disrespected him after the Decision, right?

Yeah, I kinda missed on that one too. Even though the media coverage of James’ return home has been corny as hell, to say the least I appreciate the narrative. It is pretty cool that someone with an attachment to an area can make his hometown team relevant despite the fact that the hometown is Cleveland and their biggest contribution to society was this tourism video.

The problem is that the narrative was wrapped up in this idea that LeBron needed to go back to the Cavaliers to make things right. LeBron is the best basketball player on the planet, who up to this point in his career has been a bargain contract-wise for what he actually provides on the court. Any team that he joins is automatically a title contender and he can go wherever he damn well pleases. I don’t care how bad of a PR move The Decision was, LeBron never owed Cleveland a goddamn thing. He never needed to go and make things right. Making things right was supposed to be Dan Gilbert’s job. He and the rest of the front office were supposed to give their team a chance to win a championship. And by that standard Gilbert did a terrible job. (The only team that was more poorly constructed to make the finals was the 2009 Orlando Magic. I’m pretty sure Dwight Howard and Mickael Pietrus played two on five against the Lakers for the whole series.)

There’s a bunch of executives as good at their job as the folks who were running the Cavs front office in the late 2000’s. But there was/is nobody as good at basketball as LeBron James. It was up to them to put together a wining team around him and they failed miserably. But instead of apologizing to the fans for putting together a team so unattractive that it made a man that loved Ohio move to Florida, Gilbert acted like LeBron was a runaway slave that escaped the plantation. And the whole city followed suit, with the jersey burning, and the sneaker burning and the tearing down of his giant ass poster. At worst, the city of Cleavland exposed itself to be at least slightly racist in its handling of their home town hero leaving. At best, Cleavland showed that they are a city full of thirsty ass simps who, despite sucking at all the sports for the past 50 years still haven’t figured out how to handle losing. How are you this bad at taking an L, Cleveland? Your baseball team is so bad that even LeBron showed up at your last playoff game wearing a Yankees hat.

I could at least respect them if they had stood by their hatred of LeBron and actively sent the message that they didn’t want him back in 2014. But naw, the same people who burned his jersey in 2009 were back on his nuts five years later. Not only were they pole jockin leading up to him signing his return, but then they had the nerve to say that they forgive him for leaving. What the fuck does he need to be forgiven for? LeBron wanted to win a championship, but realized he couldn’t do so by dishing the ball off to Larry Hughes. And when he asked for help, the Cavs front office got Mo Williams and Delonte West. What part of a winning formula is that? The best thing West ever did was spit this hard ass freestyle while waiting for his KFC.

Those bars should have got him on the cover of XXL, but they weren’t helping win anything. The front office in Cleavland failed James and he made the smart basketball move in 2009, just like he did in 2014.

Dwayne Wade has aged like 10 years in the past three seasons and is no longer one of the dominant players in the NBA. Chris Bosh, AKA Little Foot from the Land Before Time movie series, isn’t good enough to make up for what Wade is lacking. [Ed note: Chris Bosh is pretty awesome at basketball] And it’s been established that Mario Chalmers shouldn’t even be allowed to shoot a basketball in the fourth quarter. Even with LeBron, that’s not a team that can beat the Spurs. A healthy Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love hitting threes sounds like a better fit than any other option available. The fact that LeBron was homesick, and wanted to bring his family back to the area they grew up in was a bonus.

But I don’t blame him for wanting to come home. Truth be told, I don’t even like San Francisco anymore. Its expensive as hell to live here and the diverse neighborhood I grew up has become over run with hipsters who walk to the other side of the street when they see my black ass walk down the block. But it’s home and if I do leave, I’ll do so reluctantly. I was always re-energized flying back into San Francisco at the end of a semester so I can only imagine what it must have felt like to be able to return to Cleveland, with a good team in place, with an opportunity to smooth things over with the fan base. LeBron needed to forgive Gilbert and the fans that turned on him because he needed to make peace with that to come home. His return doesn’t work if he’s still angry. So Cleveland gets a pass from the King. But they not getting a pass from me.

The Cleveland Roasting Session:

When you start to analyze the relationship between LeBron and Cleveland its pretty clear that the reaction to him leaving didn’t happen in a vacuum. It wasn’t just the way the message of his departure was delivered, it was the fact that a city that suffered from losing like a terminal disease was losing again. With the Browns, the Cavs and the Indians, this city is so confused as to what winning looks like that they think Brian Hoyer is the quarterback of the future. Whenever there is a fan base that consistently shows support to the hometown team by buying tickets commentators like to talk about how loyal and dedicated the fan base is. What’s your loyalty worth if you pack the house eight Sundays a year to watch the football team go 7-9 in a good year? At least the Indian fans have the self-respect to stay home while watching their team miss the playoffs. (While they’re at home the Indians fans also need to see if they can get a logo on their hat that doesn’t remind me of a minstrel show.)

But I can only clown the people of Cleveland so much. They’re much better at doing it themselves.

There is so much to break down in this video. I’d like to give a shout out to the dude in the green vest for calling the sports fans in Miami fickle. This is the most “pot calling the kettle black” comment of all time. Miami sports fans can afford to be fickle. If their teams suck they just go hang out on the beach. What do you do in Cleveland if your team sucks? Look at the places where there used to be industry?

The two dudes who hype themselves up by saying “there’s always next year” are just as sad. Gilbert couldn’t get y’all a championship with LeBron and you thought success would come after he went to the Heat? If you’re playing NBA 2K on rookie mode and getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs, playing on all-star mode is just setting yourself up for embarrassment.

The rest of the video from the 3 minute mark on is the obligatory jersey burning. I always wondered if that meant that a fan was done with the Cavs in general. Between LeBron leaving and the drafting of Kyrie Irving there was nobody to get excited about. Nobody burned their 23 jersey to turn around and buy a number 11 jersey because they had suddenly become huge fans of Zydrunas Ilgauskas. But that’s all water under the bridge now because LeBron is back. And the city whose best feature is not being Detroit is now instantly relevant. Or at least they should be when LeBron decides he’s done trying to teach the team how to win. 

That’s how the losing attitude of Cleavland infects people. Even Kyrie Irving, one of the future stars in this league, has to unlearn his losing ways. And LeBron sat back and watched him and the rest of the squad fail as he only took four shots the second half against the Trailblazers. In that post game interview LeBron looked like one of those teachers who handed back a test that the whole class got F’s on. He was sitting there with that “Y’all didn’t do your homework and a lot of you guys are in danger of failing this course” face after that game. In the meantime while this team sorts itself out, they’ll be doing their fair share of losing over the next month or so. Luckily for the fans of Cleveland, losing is something they seem pretty comfortable watching.