This … urgh, I mean, I guess… I have to write about this! It’s delightfully, terribly, depressingly, humorously, really bottomed-out middle class despairingly, no actually quite miserably, like Hamlet-gravediggerly bizarre.
I meant to post this before tonight so it wouldn’t sound like sour grapes. In case you’ve been under a rock, or not following basketball, which is to say everyone in Seattle, here’s the deal: Cleveland had this basketball player named Lebron James, who grew up in nearby Akron. He was really 95% of their talent, and they had a chance to win a championship for a few years, but they kept blowing it.
This is the same Cleveland that hasn’t won any major league sports championship in over 50 years. The same Cleveland whose economy has been terrible since the 70’s, except for a brief stint of success in the 90’s. Whoops, that’s their baseball team. I mean their economy has been terrible since the 70’s, except for a few years when it got snatched away and sent to Baltimore. Whoops, that’s their football team. Look, their economy has been terrible since the 70’s. Population’s down 50% since its peak. City planning has been abominable. The city itself is a burnt-out shell, nothing happening past 5pm, and there’s a large part of it you kinda shouldn’t go to. All the rich people moved to the suburbs… in the 70’s.
So Lebron becomes a free agent. And of course everyone wants him. Cleveland wants him most of all. Different teams put together their offers of tens of millions of dollars, superstar supporting casts, and, y’know, groveling and stuff. (Chicago gets a little respect from me for this stunt, but still… it’s an ad campaign to woo a basketball player.) Fine, it’s sports, whatever.
So what does he do? Strings everyone along for weeks, and then holds an hourlong TV event in which he declares he’s going to Miami.
“What kind of man arranges and stars in a nationally televised infomercial during which he kicks his hometown to the curb?”
“No sports star has ever been this cruel, and no city had ever absorbed this calculated a knife to the throat.”
Ugh ugh ha ha ugh.
How does this happen? It’s a perfect mess of god-damn-awful. I can’t really blame Lebron for leaving; after all, I did the same as a promising talented 20-something. But did it have to be another great misfortune heaped upon Cleveland sports, with media fanfare? This goes beyond kicking you while you’re down. This is three guys kicking you while you’re down, continuously, for 50 years, until the three guys all leave and you think “oh hey maybe things are going to be better”, until they bring in a 6'8" guy with steel toed boots. And a brass band.
Does it matter? It’s just sports. But as mentioned before, Cleveland doesn’t have a lot going for it. This hits like a tennis-ball-sized hailstorm, except each hailstone is actually a snow globe containing a Clevelander’s dream that shatters to bits as it dents that Clevelander’s Toyota.
I don’t know where to go with this. I was going to continue the loony analogies until I got tired, but I also don’t want this to come across as Cleveland-bashing. Cleveland is full of a lot of great people. They deserve better. I wanted also to say yeah, it is just sports, and who really cares. I wanted to talk about how ugly it is when one person gets so much power that entire sports franchises are reduced to straight-up groveling. I wanted to say I hope maybe this galvanizes Cleveland, so maybe they won’t seek relief in sports alone anymore, but that’s insulting to everyone who currently IS working to make Cleveland a better place.
I guess mostly, I wanted to comment on how just remarkably terribly superbly vaingloriously comically hideous this whole spectacle has been, but I can’t say it better than:
“I’m keeping my 2 yr old up to watch the LeBron James Special. I want her to see the exact moment our society hit rock bottom.”
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