Monday, April 16, 2012

Sports Loyalty

Let me begin by apologizing to any St. Louis readers: I know that most of you aren't even sure that they still play professional basketball in this country, but they do, and I really like it. This post is gonna be about that.

I am a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I grew up in Canton, Ohio, an hour down the road from Cleveland. I was raised to like the Cavs and Browns (fortunately we weren't a big baseball family). The Cavs are the team that used to employ LeBron James. I am also a fan of the Miami Heat. They are the team that currently employs LeBron James (you may remember some of the brouhaha surrounding his changing jobs a few summers ago). I'm not actually a big Heat fan per se, but I am a big LeBron fan, so I root for the Heat by proxy.

That's right. I'm a Cavs fan who still likes LeBron James. Did I like his decision? No. I would have much rather he had stayed in Cleveland, winning championships by the handful and seeding Northeast Ohio with his unquestionable genetic advantages. But he didn't. And I'm not burning his jerseys in the street. In fact, all of my boys still regularly wear them. When the Cavs are on, that is. When the Heat are on, they wear number 6 (of course if I didn't have League Pass, they'd never be able to watch my hometown team).

I'm OK with that. My wife actually bought us tickets to Game 5 in Dallas last year (which didn't exactly go according to plan). My 6 year old (basketball crazed currently) just had a birthday and got (from Grandma, per his wishes) a LeBron jersey in every color (so he could match whatever they were wearing on the TV), two LeBron books, a LeBron backpack, LeBron pajamas, and a personalized binder coordinating and collating all things LeBron. I was, to be honest, amazed that they sell that much stuff with one man's face on it.

There are those who would call me a sports bigamist. To them I say... well, pretty much nothing. I'm old enough I don't need to give a crap what most folks think about me. But I am open to share my rationalization for it. I generally deal with getting static about this by half-heartedly blowing it off by saying "hey, I left Cleveland, too, and I haven't won a championship yet, either," but the fact of the matter is that I spent 7 years (9, if you count his last two in high school) rooting for LeBron. He was King James. He was the Chosen One. He's a nice guy, a funny guy, a really good kid -- you know, like one of your friend's little brothers who everyone knew was gonna make good, only we was the little brother to the buddy of everyone in Northeast Ohio. He was the first guy from the neighborhood to go college, then he not only went to college, but he went to  med school, and not only did he go to med school, but then he became one of the greatest brain surgeons EVER. And now, just because he's decided to go move to a better hospital with a better staff (and where he can work with his buddies and make more money) I'm supposed to hate him? That doesn't make any sense.

Could LeBron have handled leaving Cleveland better? Absolutely. We've all been young, and stupid, and we've all made mistakes. I'm actually more embarrassed by the way Cleveland handled the whole thing. I have a hard time imagining anyone thinks LeBron handled leaving Cleveland right, but being classless throughout the fallout doesn't exactly make the case that he should have stuck around. If a girl breaks up with a guy, and that guy loses it and starts yelling at her in public and making everyone else uncomfortable, everyone knows she made the right choice leaving him. If he accepts his fate and holds it together while she struggles, then everyone knows she should have stuck around. Lot of parallels there. Just sayin'.

That said, I still love the Cavs. They're family. They've always been there, and they always will be. I'd rather have them win, but if they can't, I'd like for it to be LeBron. In the meantime, my boys can root for everybody -- I'm sure they'll get it right when it matters.



  1. Love this line:

    I'm old enough I don't need to give a crap what most folks think about me.

    1. Thanks. I was actually pretty proud of that one, too.