Lebron James is leaving Cleveland to join the Miami Heat, a decision that he has every right to make because he is a basketball player, not the savior of Cleveland.
The reaction to his decision says something about Northeast Ohio, and what it says isn't good. This reaction confirms what I have said about this area for years. There is an ugly tendency among many people to blame others for their misery and put all their hopes in things and people who are unable to fulfill the expectations or, as in Lebron's case, are not responsible for the people's, or City's, wealth, success or happiness. It is the same mentality that blames government and elected-officials when the only thing to blame is the person's own bad life decisions.
The City of Cleveland was not named the most miserable city for no reason. There are serious problems with Cleveland that go far beyond Lebron or no Lebron. There are parts of Cleveland that look like a war zone. At one time nearly 100 percent of the children who attended Cleveland Public Schools lived in a household with an income below the poverty level. Instead of doing something to fix this problem, the people and elected-officials had hitched their wagon to Lebron, thinking that if they won a NBA Championship that suddenly Cleveland would be a city glimmering like the championship trophy. The idea of this is absurd. The City of Cleveland needs much more than an NBA Championship, and the needs of the City will never be met until the people decide that they do not want to live like this anymore and demand that Mayor Jackson and City Council take the steps to clean-up the city, the school system, and engage opportunities to revamp the City's image to attract economic growth. None of those things were Lebron's responsibility.
I understand being disappointed. I am a bit disappointed. I like Lebron, not for his basketball skills, but for the way he handles himself. He hasn't had it easy, and he has worked hard. He has behaved and set a good example for the young people who look up to him. I have no problem with what he did last night because he saw an interest in what he had to say and he used that to raise millions for the Boys and Girls Club. I don't see it as an "ego trip." We fed his ego by caring so much about his decision. He just gave us what we wanted. What I don't understand is the name calling, jersey burning, and shouts of disloyalty. These actions are just as disloyal to Lebron as people believe he was to Cleveland. This behavior says that Lebron owes us more than we owe him. Because he is rich, successful and, dare I say, black, he should forgo his dreams and stay here in his hometown area. Millions of people leave their hometowns to look for success every day. No one burns them in effigy. They wish them luck and send them on their way, as we should do for Lebron.
Now, let me speak a bit about Dan Gilbert, majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His open letter to the fans is a disgrace. It shows the maturity of a first grader. He calls Lebron selfish and disloyal, a betrayer. I could use those same words to describe Gilbert. It is amazing that nowhere in the letter does Gilbert thank Lebron for the millions of dollars that he made off of him. Few people remember that the Cavs were about to fold when they were lucky enough to draft Lebron. He has saved that team, and Gilbert has profited from that. An owner with class, something Lebron has plenty of, would have said that he was disappointed and then went on to thank Lebron for what he had done for the team and Cleveland. Instead, Gilbert decided to join the pity party and disparage Lebron. Again, this kind of reaction helps me to better understand why Lebron left. Gilbert says that Lebron's true colors were showing last night. I think that comment deserves a real good look in the mirror.
With all this being said, I have lived in Akron, Ohio all my life. I am well aware of the economic depression that has gripped this area long before our current recession, but if all we really have to look forward to is the slam dunk of a basketball player, then we have much bigger problems then Lebron heading south for Miami. This situation should be a call for Northeast Ohio to take a real good look at who we are and who we want to be. Right now, the whole country is watching, and we are embarassing ourselves.
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