I have been reading several national writers take on the Lebron returns to Cleveland story, and I have been reading the same mistakes and incorrect assumptions in most of them.
Allow me to correct.
1 – Cleveland’s Financial History
Around 1900, the industrial base of Cleveland drove it to be the 6th largest city in America. It’s industrial barons (John Rockefeller and company) built lavish arts and cultural institutions and mansions around the east side of the city. By the 1920’s Cleveland had legitimate dreams of hosting an Olympics, a World’s Fair, and other world-class attractions.
The industries of Cleveland supplied most of the american ball-bearings and ammunition for both world wars, as well as manufacturing a large part of the american tank fleet and naval and airplane motors. The automobile was first manufactured in Cleveland, but after two decades Detroit took the automotive lead while Cleveland continued to make many of the frames, engines, and bodies for Detroit-based makers.
After that…well… about 80% of the manufacturing left Cleveland, never to return. And no, they didn’t clean up after themselves.
2 – Lebron James & Dan Gilbert
Lebron’s “Decision” TV spectacle in 2010 was, more than anything else, a stab in the back to his local fan base.
Everyone knew that Dan Gilbert is a millionaire banker from Detroit who bought the Cavs because they already had Lebron and the Pistons weren’t for sale.
They knew Gilbert liked to come off as regular fan, like Mark Cuban with a regular job, but no one really buys it. They know he’s making money off the poor and addicted at his Cleveland casino. That’s why lots of people voted against it.
Lebron didn’t screw Dan over. We are smart enough to know it was all business. We know LBJ is the once in a lifetime talent.
But Lebron’s decision to take it to prime-time ESPN, to try to cover his poop with the Boys and Girls club – oh please.
Hey Connecticut kids – we are gonna raise you some money by making the kids – and adults – of a whole region cry on live TV!
No one but Miami and the a few of the kids in that room bought it. Are they still mad that Ohio isn’t named New Connecticut?
The evidence of how bad The Decision TV special was? Not a single athlete has copied it, and almost everything else LBJ does is copied by other athletes.
3 – The Cuyahoga River
Every time you make a joke about our Cuyahoga River burning you should thank us. Why? Because people in our region rallied against the powers that be and ultimately the EPA was formed.
If you are american your air and public waterways are probably cleaner now than 40 years ago because the citizens of northeast Ohio fought back. We organized. We studied. We made a difference.
You should also look up other river fires in other industrial cities and add those to your punchline. Lots of waterways would catch fire before anyone regulated anything.
Also, note that only the very end of the Cuyahoga was being polluted, there’s a nice river before that area.
This region’s manufacturing built this country before we outsourced everything. We deserve respect, if not direct aide from the places that weren’t compromised by our industrial revolution.
4 – Burning Jerseys
I counted about 7 Cavs fans burning Lebron jersey’s on video in 2010. Maybe 20 more around town did the deed.
Some cleaned their toilets with it. I personally picked up cat puke with 1 LBJ t-shirt I had, but I kept my $100 jerseys safe in a bottom drawer.
The idea that we are a bunch of street rioting savages is idiotic. Cleveland people are about as normal and chill as they come. We love our teams and will talk shit with anyone who wants to talk some shit, but it’s just entertainment.
There are far more important things in Cleveland than millionaires playing sports -like survival. Most of america felt that financial pinch the last few years. Cleveland has been in that world for decades! It’s why we are so tough, and it’s why people from here don’t take too kindly to all the misrepresentation and insults we endure from random entertainers and internet types.
All that said, Lebron deserved the outrage of Cleveland fans in 2010. You have no idea how long we had Lebron at that point – not just 7 years with the Cavs, but 4 years in high school too. We were over a decade invested in the kid from Akron that just might become the best ever.
It was Cavs fans getting attacked for 7 years defending Lebron, swatting off hater after hater. “King”? “Chosen One”? It was relentless.
We were told nothing good could ever come from Cleveland (idiots don’t even realize nearly half the entertainment industry was raised in Cleveland). When you defend someone for that long and from so many angles you don’t expect them to be the one sticking the knife in your back.
No matter who you root for you don’t expect or deserve that disapointment to be a live TV special on ESPN.
In summary — think twice before you insult someplace you don’t know or understand.
I’ve lived several places and Cleveland should be proud, not ashamed. Cleveland is one of the best places in America and the people are amazing, and to take the amount of shit we do being a punchline just adds to the resolve of people here.