For the Love of Cleveland: The City That LeBron Built

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This Thursday at 9pm, the world will explode. Or at least Twitter will. And probably a lot of Clevelanders' brains, too.

It's when LeBron James, Akron's own basketball prodigy - Cleveland's favorite son - is expected to announce his big decision. Will he stay or will he go? At the end of June, all guesses indicated that he would be leaving the Mistake on the Lake for someplace harder, better, faster stronger. Now, reports hint that he'll be staying in the city that raised him & plays him.

And why would he leave? Sure, the whole world wants him. Sure, he's been wooed by everyone from opera singers to rap stars to celebrity chefs - & let's not forget the promises of hefty(er) paychecks. But when you think about it, why would LeBron James ever want to leave the city that worships him so?

Think about it this way: Say you became the king of a small country, a country that was struggling & downtrodden, & under your leadership, that country began to flourish. It might sound a little sad but, but really, the citizens of your country don't worship anything or anyone but you - they rely on you to buoy both their economy & their hope. You are the epitome of a big fish in a small pond - the biggest of fish in the clingiest, most thankful, most appreciative of ponds. You're the King & your reign is guaranteed; no one else even comes close. Why would you ever leave your throne?

And that's what Cleveland is to King James, who first landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was just 17, a kid who, without really meaning to, gave a busted city a lot of things - but mostly hope. Sure, he doesn't tip his hometown waiters & his mom once kicked out the windows of a police cruiser, but in CLE, the King reigns supreme. He revived a dying city, gave it someone to believe in & something to look forward to. And in return, it gave him everything - a desperate, fervent, please-don't-leave-us-because-we're-nothing-without-you love. He is not just our claim to fame; for seven years now, he has also been our claim to legitimacy.

It sounds cheesy, & it is. And truth be told, it kills me to see the city I love beg a star to stay. Cleveland is better than that, & I think Clevelanders have a lot more to love than basketball royalty. It pains me to watch the city become a desperate pawn in one man's big decision; he is, after all, just a man (and from what I can tell, not even a particularly nice man, at that). But the city that LeBron built loves its leader, & we feel deeply that he ought to love us back - & that he ought to love us enough to stay. Just as he built us, we built him.

is coming. The countdown begins...

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