Commentary: LeBron detractors will have to contend with reality


Had an acquaintance of 30 years not posted the following rant on Facebook, I would have ignored the continuing bitterness that surrounds LeBron James.

“Shame on all sports reporters, owners, and fans to allow anyone to control any sport like this. His ego is a product of all of you. This should never happen. One player cannot win a championship … He proved that four years ago. Shame on you all. My hope is Cleveland Browns win a championship before the Cavs. I don’t want LeBron to lift the curse. He doesn’t deserve to be the one to do it.”

That’s a refrain echoed by many more than a week after LeBron James made his decision to return to the Cavaliers. They verbally kick. They shout into the virtual space that is social media knowing that someone will hear them scream.

This is a dead issue. It’s history. It’s done.

James left in not the best of ways and now he’s back. You have to deal with it. Bitterness won’t change that fact.

If you want to vote with your dollars, do so. Stay away. Don’t allow the seething acrimony to stain anyone else’s enjoyment of what could happen.

Others will put down the cash, be they from Cleveland, Akron or across the country. That is how huge James is.

This is what happens when sports becomes obsession — when sports, which should be viewed as a diversion, is elevated to something significant beyond bragging rights. Yes, I can hear Cavs Nation, Browns Nation and Tribe Nation calling out that “nothing brings people together like sports.” And I have little doubt that at times that indeed happens.

But sports can bring out the ugliness, too — especially in this culture where social media provides the platform and impetus for anyone to act like a jerk on a grand scale. Sure it’s nice to be able to rant and ramble on. Heaven knows I’ve done it more than a few times, usually about sports fans.

But there are certain realities that those like my acquaintance above are going to have to contend with in the Cleveland area now that James is back.

First that sports reporter’s comment? Ummm … well … how the heck do we control the level of power that James now has, a level that many experts have attested is unprecedented? We generally report the news and although there were a few individuals who sounded more like cheerleaders during the period leading up to The Decision 2.0, outlets like the Beacon Journal and our beat reporter Jason Lloyd, Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio and the Associated Press’ Tom Withers played it exactly right.

As for James’ ego? Really? Seriously? Show me anyone who is at the top of his field who doesn’t have one?

Having interviewed James, and others from sports celebrities to movie industry folks, such as Steven Spielberg and Denzel Washington, I can tell you that they have two things in common — money and ego.

And the reality is that when you are at the top of your field, you maximize every advantage you have for financial gain and security.

That’s why Spielberg can make any movie he wants. That’s why Washington commands more than $15 million for a blockbuster film. And, yes, that’s why James can essentially control his destiny, never mind that he does so courtesy of a collective bargaining agreement that his once-again boss, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, favored to break up superstar teams.

The height of hypocrisy, for me, for this pool of dead-enders, comes in my acquaintance’s final sentence.

“My hope is Cleveland Browns win a championship before the Cavs. I don’t want LeBron to lift the curse. He doesn’t deserve to be the one to do it.”

My fellow Greater Clevelanders have long memories when it suits them and short memories when it does the same.

However, history cannot be ignored. So sorry if it’s inconvenient. They’d rather see a team in a league that allowed a historic franchise to be moved by an owner who apparently didn’t know how to make money in the NFL, where a license to print greenbacks comes with ownership, win the championship first?

The same league came back a few years later and gave the owners a minimal amount of time to set up the new team? Then we forget some of the almost comical moves made in the past 15 years? Seriously? It’s just an example of how unabated bitterness can turn usually rational people into the exact opposite.

Personally I don’t care which professional franchise lifts the alleged curse that supposedly has denied Cleveland championships for five decades. Civic and sports pride dictate that I have some warm-and-fuzzy time, hoist and down a shot of something that’s not good for me and chest bump someone when it inevitably comes. The warm and fuzzy time will probably happen. The rest? Not so much.

If any of Cleveland’s major sports teams wins a championship, it’s good for the city and the region.

And if the Cavs are first, bitterness shouldn’t take the place of rationality.