The Lebacle: A Sport Icon’s Departure from Cleveland – Good or Bad?

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Now, I’m sure you have read or heard of a zillion takes on “The Decision” (Apologizes for the late post). The story is fascinating. Ohio-born product. Freakish athlete. Plays for his hometown team. Scoring champion. All Star. Super star. Mega star. 2 Time MVP. Yadda Yadda Yadda. The national media has been fixated on this guy for years. Some say he was destined for greatness, possibly the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), but July 8, 2010, will be etched in the memories of many people forever.

On that day, a 25-year old went on ESPN, in front of children at a Boys and Girls Club, and told millions of viewers that he was going to the Miami Heat.

Now, everyone has their own opinions on this story. I am coming to you from the perspective of a student in Cleveland who was born and raised just outside of Chicago. I grew up idolizing Michael Jordan, not the other guy. I grew up in the 90s seeing my hometown team beating up the league. I have also seen some terrible basketball in Chicago as well. I have also been spoiled with seeing the White Sox win the World Series, the Bears play in the Superbowl and the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup recently.

When I moved to Cleveland to go to college there, I had to accept the fact that I was not going to get to see my hometown teams play as much. Instead, I got to see one of the best players in the NBA play. As an outsider, I did not nearly care about Cleveland’s #23 as much as the locals did. His jerseys could be seen everywhere. Everyone was “Witness” to his amazing play. There was nothing this guy could do wrong. He had not only brought a minor sports franchise to the forefront of the national media, but he also shouldered the load of a economically depressed city on his back. He was “The Man.”

5-13-10 changed all of that (It would have been ironic if the reigning MVP’s last game was on Friday the 13th, but it was one day shy).

With the Cavaliers knocked out of the playoffs during the second round, it was clear that the Cavs could not get over the championship hump. Their roster was built to win now. They had very few tradable assets and no first round draft picks. There was almost no room to grow. If he was to follow in MJ’s footsteps, the Cavs had to win this year. But they didn’t.

#23 had already formally changed his number to #6. He was leaving Cleveland.

Unfortunately, it took a while for Cleveland to catch up with that notion.

Really, Cleveland? This guy must have meant a lot to the city if all of those people were willing to expose themselves on YouTube.

Now, I understand that he may have been the city’s only hope for bringing a championship there since 1964. It may take a long time now. At least their drought is not as long as the Cubs (>100 years, ouch!).

Kidding aside, if you think about his professionalism on and off the court, there is a silver lining.

Is that who you want bringing a championship to your team? Think about that one for a minute.

So he goes to the Miami Heat. Check out how they introduce their new players. He went to that? What is the NBA now, the WWE?

I think there are good things and bad things to take from this long story. Obviously, Cleveland has been embarrassed by the national media throughout the whole “decision process” and lost their only chance at winning a title for a long time. However, the city should rest well soon knowing that they don’t have to bow down to a false King anymore.

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