The Lebron Question

It’s “the most important decision in history” and “the reasons why spew forth by the hour on ESPN’s LeBron Tracker, Deadspin and Esquire’s LeBron Watch, The Plain Dealer’s daily LeBron Rumors section, and the neighbor guy cutting his grass.”


But Scene magazine writer Vince Grzegorek says enough.

In an article titled “Let Him Go,” Grzegorek argues the groveling and the speculation and the posturing is hurting Cleveland’s image. Maybe more than “The King” ever helped it.

“LeBron in Cleveland validates our place on the map; LeBron anywhere else wipes us out,” he writes, “It’s sad, but no more so than our false belief that the guy ever loved us in the first place.”

To which he adds, hilariously, “even if LeBron departs, we’re stuck with ourselves.”

A lot of people don’t realize that it was simply coincidence that brought Lebron, fresh out of St. Vincent-St. Mary high School in Akron, 40 miles up the road to Cleveland. And he’s made a point of reminding people that Akron, not Cleveland, is his home town.

A front page New York Times article Saturday highlights Cleveland’s viral “We are Lebron” musical plea to the home-grown superstar. Everyone in the universe has seen this video by now, featuring Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, and d-list local Cleveland celebrities like weathermen and the Norton Furniture guy.  The Times writer wonders whether it’s wise for New York should stoop to the tactics of “less sophisticated cities,” in it’s own video overtures to the 25-year-old from Akron.

I’ve spent more time thinking about Lebron James in the last two years than I care to admit. I was pretty let down during the NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals and I have a feeling Lebron’s going to let us in Cleveland down again, when he enters free agency this summer.

It’s tough to know. That’s part of his carefully choreographed self-promotion.

But I think, if he leaves, it will be ok. Cleveland has stuck by the Browns and the Indians all these years and the city gets a sort of sick pride out of loyalty to losing teams. In a way, it’s kind of fun and comfortable. Cleveland as the underdog. Cleveland we can all joke about. Cleveland that doesn’t surprise.

On one hand, if Lebron stays it’s great for his good-guy image. On the other hand, I really think he’s dying to join enjoy Jay-Z in the billionarie-celebrity lifestyle–the antithesis of Cleveland.

In my experience, Cleveland just doesn’t win when it’s up against the likes of New York, or L.A. or Boston.

I don’t know. Maybe the Cleveland pessimism is getting to me. Better not to get our hopes up. (I’ve heard it said that the secret to fixing Cleveland is to put antidepressants in the water.) What do you think?



Filed under Headline, Sports, The Big Urban Photography Project, The Media

4 responses to “The Lebron Question

  1. Sean Posey

    I think all the hyperbole regarding LeBron is symptomatic of a larger obsession with sports and sports figures, one that is detrimental to the real problems we actually face in urban centers.

  2. jsmithsen

    “On the other hand, I really think he’s dying to join enjoy Jay-Z in the billionarie-celebrity lifestyle–the antithesis of Cleveland.”

    Couldn’t agree more. I’m an ex-Clevelander in New York. Cleveland needs to be proud of how it is different to New York. Or simply how it is Cleveland.

    I imagine there are tens of thousands of Clevelanders whose grandparents (or great-grandparents) were involved in the Labor battles of the 1930s (large and small). As well as World War II.

    And only a handful know this.

    One great museum of Cleveland history would be worth 10 Lebrons.

  3. Special K

    One Akronite writing in the Wall Street Journal: “The greatest city in the world is the one you know as home.”

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