LeBron’s decision will change Cleveland foreverWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There was a brief moment last Thursday night, when the Cleveland Cavaliers season ended after a 94-85 loss at the hands of the Boston Celtics that I had a wave of panic wash over me.
The moment I have been dreading since LeBron James signed his three year contract extension after the 2005-2006 NBA season, is upon us. The LeBron sweepstakes has begun, and it will dominate every waking moment of every bit of sports coverage.
Three main suitors have emerged in the form of the Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks, and, of course, the Cavaliers.
The mood of the speculation has been as predictable as the weather, changing on a daily basis as to where James will call home for more than likely the remainder of his professional basketball career.
Of course after another momentous collapse in the playoffs for a second consecutive season, the popular theory is that King James has all but vacated his throne off the shores of Lake Erie and is looking for a new NBA palace to take court in.
For most people’s money, their bet is on the Chicago Bulls. They are a compelling team, and the Bulls have a talented nucleus of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, who put on a show against Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs. The Bulls have the rich history provided by some guy named Michael Jordan, and Chicago seems to be the corporate Mecca of the Midwest.
Of course LeBron could always flee Cleveland for Broadway and head to New York. The Knicks have a pile of cash to sign two max level free agents this offseason. New York has everything to offer, where James could further himself as a global icon. If James can make it there, well, he’ll make it everywhere.
Surprisingly, the horse with the worst odds in the LeBron Derby seems to be the home Cavaliers.
Even the mention of James staying in Cleveland and donning wine and gold for the remainder of his career will draw plenty of laughs.
Yuck…..Cleveland! Why would any fool pick Cleveland over the bright lights of the Big Apple or the Windy City?
Ohio and its cities continue to get the shaft on the big stage, and the state itself has become a punch line rather than a choice for a destination.
All one needs to do is search “Cleveland tourism video” on Youtube.com, and it’s easy to see what the public perception of the city is these days.
I remember the heyday of the Indians in the mid-90s, when Jacobs Field transformed Cleveland into a city full of civic pride. The city was a place to go and be seen.
Sure it was never Chicago or New York, but Cleveland had seemed to be revived into a nice city instead of a burnt out berg.
Exactly when or how the perception changed is a mystery to me. It seemed as though I awoke one morning and Cleveland went from city on the mend to a city that hit a dead end.
Today the common thought is that LeBron James is the only thing Cleveland has going for it and even that won’t be the case much longer if you side with public sentiment.
But I am going to take the underdog in this race, and I am rooting for James to remain in Cleveland.
I have plenty of basketball reasons why he should stay, but the main reason I hope he stays is to stick it to the rest of the world.
Every major sports figure seems to flee the big city, for whatever reasons, and LeBron staying in Cleveland probably won’t change any of that. Guys will still seek their millions of dollars, unparalleled fame, and the big market.
There is a thought that civic pride comes from within a city border, and while there is some truth to that, I think civic pride can be boosted by catalyst. All one needs to do is see what happened at Fifth Third Field last Friday night for proof of that.
If James stays it might bring back a sense of Cleveland and Ohio pride. For once someone chose Ohio over the allure of glitz and glamour.
For the next six weeks, the sports world will wait with baited breath to see which basketball court LeBron James will lace up his Nikes at next season.
Here’s hoping it is Cleveland. I would love the story of James’s life to be entitled “You’re a Good Man, LeBron James,” rather than “LeBron James, We Hardly Knew Thee.”
Chris Schmidbauer is sports editor for the Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. You can email him at email@example.com. He also can be heard every Tuesday at 11 AM on the Odd Couple Sports Show on Fox Sports Radio 1230 WCWA.