Saturday, July 10, 2010

Been awhile, huh?

Why, yes, yes it has. So what prompts this respite from blogosphere hibernation? Lebron, of course. So, my thoughts...

As a Clevelander, the 24-36 hr. period, from waking up Thurs. to the Miami reports thru Fri. and the aftermath was hell. Understand the tortured history of Cleveland sports. The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, Jose Mesa '97, Colavito, etc.

Oh, those hurt, believe me, and created the fatalism that exists about our teams today. But they can be chalked up to the "sporting gods" and miserable luck. In the end, we haven't had the right combination of luck and skill since 1964 to pull it off. But we're used to that.

Art Modell ripping the Browns was a cruel act that ripped our hearts out. That was a decision to LEAVE the town, a great football town. It will never, ever be forgiven.

Odd as it seems, the way James handled this was even worse than Modell. At least the old man wasn't a native of NE Ohio, couldn't fully appreciate our psyche. James was acutely aware of everything, of our tortured sports history AND of our utterly unfair reputation of being a second-rate horribly boring city.

Leaving is one thing. Not fun, but not unreasonable. But starting with the way the Celtics series ended (Yes, he ABSOLUTELY quit), it went downhill. Clearly, this move was the plan for awhile, and it's likely why he gave up against the C's; why did he care anymore? Fine, but stringing us (and others) along like we had a legit chance to keep him, just to create an ESPN-inspired media hysteria around him was unfair.

Then the 1-hr. show. Would he really be heartless enough to embarass his home area so brutally, so publicly? Many national pundits thought not, as did many locals. He would know better than that, right? Wouldn't kill us so publicly, right?

If we're being totally honest, Thurs. morning's reports should have resigned us to the inevitable: Yes, he IS that gutless. But deep down, we still couldn't imagine he'd do us like that.

The special itself was the moment American culture "Jumped the shark," an hour+ farce with a host paid directly by LRMR asking idiotic questions, before, after 27 mins., the nuke was dropped. Mind you, he first noted that he was going to "South Beach," not the Heat, as if to say, "Thank God I'm leaving for somewhere 'fun.'" There was no real emotion towards home; it was all a (failed) exercise in national/global branding, with ESPN as his lapdogs. And we in Cleveland were the poor sap victims, anguishing for all the country to see.

For LeBron, maybe history will see him as an all-timer. His crew likely figures that winning, oh, 4-5 titles in a row, will speak for itself. That being part of the most heralded team ever, even if it will never be "his team" will be so great that he will still be an ESPN-hyped/pimped "icon" when it's all said and done. And maybe they're right; American culture is touchy and can turn back on a dime.

Still, he can never be Jordan, Bird, Magic or even Kobe. Did those guys WANT to join their friend superstars? H=ll no, they want(ed) to beat them. Every single time. James admitted he's not good enough to get it done when the chips are down. He wants to HELP "The Man," not be "The Man." I think this will start a trend: Friends arranging to play with each other, not competing against each other. I think this is a bad trend.

Cleveland WILL survive. Our city is far more vibrant and interesting than even we give it credit for. Great restaurant scene, emerging areas like Tremont, world-class museums, etc. Doesn't feel like it now, but we'll be fine.

Our sports will also survive, but honestly, they won't be fine for awhile. The Indians are a joke, the Browns are on "Rebuild v. 50.0", and the Cavs have been crippled; crippled by a guy who couldn't just be honest with us or his team, who couldn't speak with his now pissed-off owner before the show; a guy who said, last night in Miami, that winning 7 titles will be "easy" b/c they're so good. B/c winning should always be easy. But fans are used to this now, unfortunately, creating a fatalism that is profound and not as charming as what Red Sox fans once had.

Two articles: Ironically, Mike Florio. And a local POV.