Four years ago I sat on my couch in Columbia, SC watching the now infamous “The Decision” as LeBron announced his intentions to “take his talents to South Beach”. The anger that I felt from that moment is like nothing I can explain.
“That’s dumb! How could he do that?” I screamed and quickly turned the T.V. off. For the next hour I continued to rage at my then girlfriend and at a blank T.V. screen. This wasn’t right, this is betrayal, he doesn’t understand I thought over and over again. I couldn’t focus my thoughts weren’t clear and I saw nothing but red.
Now before we go any further I am sure many of you believe that I am a diehard Cavaliers fan or at the very least a Cleveland fan, which couldn’t be any farther from the truth. My NBA fandom lies with Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. When it comes to the NFL I have and always will be a diehard Steelers fan and to top it all off I root for “the school up north”, Michigan. So why in the world was I so angry?
Well there is one thing I share with LeBron James and the Cavaliers, I’m from Ohio. I was born there, I grew up there and until I went off to college I lived there. No matter what school or sports team I root for I am an Ohioan and I am proud of it.
Sure, I have almost no Ohio sports pride but it’s tough to find another person as proud of the state of Ohio as me. I am proud to have grown up in Ohio, proud to be an Ohioan, proud that the Columbus Zoo is one of the greatest zoos in the nation, proud that Cedar Pointe is the roller coaster capital of the world and until the day I die it is pop not soda.
With this pride for the state comes an overwhelming pride for people the come from there. I feel a connection to them and their accomplishments at times feel like my accomplishments. Sure it’s silly I know. Yes it isn’t me out there dunking over people or starring in a movie but there is something special about exclaiming “so and so is from Ohio!” I don’t expect you to understand and four years ago I couldn’t convey this to anyone that would listen to me rant about LeBron James.
The classic line that was thrown out on a consistent basis four years ago was “it’s just business” and trust me I get that. There was no part of me that would have admitted four years ago that LeBron was never going to win a championship by teaming up with Wade and Bosh. In fact I was under the impression that they would just steam roll for at least six years and walk away with minimum five championships. I mean who was going to stop them?
Was the Heat the better team than Cleveland? Yes. Was Miami better for LeBron’s brand? Yes. Heck, was Miami a better place to live? Yes. But I am a strong believer of something’s are just bigger than “business” and I to this day believe LeBron is bigger than a basketball player to Ohio.
LeBron was ours, he grew up here, he was drafted by Cleveland and he took the NBA by storm being a part of hometown team. It was bigger than basketball and in my mind I though LeBron got that, especially since he is one of us.
But all of that is a post for another day; this is directed at you Cleveland fans. I know you are dancing in the street and pulling out your LeBron jersey’s because the king has returned. You are on top of the world right now and rightfully so, but let’s not forget the past four years.
Remember that feeling you felt four years ago when LeBron left you? Remember how betrayed you felt? Remember the past four years watching your chosen one do what he never did with your team? How annoying was it for a Heat or any other fan to say to you “get over it, it’s done. Move on”?
It stung and at times it felt like your heart was being ripped out. No one understood the pain, so you surely didn’t want to hear someone from Miami tell you to move on. The following four seasons felt as though the Heat had stolen your project, passed it off as their own work and won awards with it and there was nothing you could do.
To top it all off when LeBron left your team was in shambles. You went from the top of the NBA to the bottom overnight.
So as a fellow Ohioan I say to you Cleveland fans remember all of that.
The whole country was rooting for you the past 11 days. Almost everyone wanted LeBron to go home, they wanted the redemption story and they wanted the sports tortured city of Cleveland to finally succeed at something. Don’t ruin that.
Don’t act like the last four years meant nothing. Just like LeBron said in his essay, the past four years have helped him to grow as a person and player. Let’s grow with him.
Stay humble, appreciate this gift that you have been given and treasure it this time. You as a fan base have been given a second chance don’t squander it. The king has returned and America is on your side, life is good but don’t forget the pain of the last four years.
It has become the funny thing to say that there are no real Miami Heat fans, but the fact is there are fans out there that are feeling just as betrayed as you felt four years ago. Let’s take the high road and just embrace the return of LeBron James.
There is no need to demand apologies to throw it in the face of Heat fans. Cleveland is a winner this weekend and having LeBron back in Cleveland should be more than enough.
The last four years have been tough for, but they are over. This is a time to celebrate, but don’t forget where you came from Cleveland. LeBron James hasn’t and you shouldn’t either.