Feeling Sorry For Cleveland
Cleveland is the John C. Reilly of cities.
You know Reilly. He’s the actor with the scrunched up face who always plays the poor soul, the unkempt sad sack of a loser who somehow never wins the girl. Shoot, most of the time he never even dates her.
He’s the one who stands off to the side at the end of the movie, watching the handsome leading man drive off with the beautiful babe.
Well, don’t look now, but there is grimy, weather-beaten Cleveland today, watching LeBron James drive off to the flashy, sun-splashed environs of South Beach.
You can’t help but feel sorry for the city whose original football and baseball stadium was nicknamed “the mistake by the lake.” The city that has suffered so many disappointments and frustrations through the years, from “The Drive” to “The Fumble” to the Indians’ collapse in the playoffs when they were on the verge of the World Series.
And now this. Now their hometown hero, the kid from the streets of Akron who rejuvenated the town, made residents feel like winners again, made them feel like SOMEBODY, now even he turns his back on the city.
You could almost feel the pain exploding out of the Midwest when James made that contrived announcement Thursday night. And what about that Jim Gray interview? Did it make you scream at the television set as much as it did me?
My favorite question, my absolute favorite, was: “Do you still bite your fingernails? . . .”
Say, what? Oh, I see, apparently he was trying to be clever, to point out so many people were biting their fingernails awaiting the announcement.
Sorry, Jim, baby. But it just didn’t work.
Anyway, I understand where LeBron is coming from. He wanted to go somewhere he had a better chance to win an NBA title. With Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on his team in Miami, he should get his wish, although unless they fill the other minimum roster spots with halfway decent talent, it might not be as easy as he thinks.
The Heat, with his two All-Star buddies, will be a lot more exciting than another dull, dreary runner-up finish in Cleveland. I get that.
Still, there would have been something truly heroic about LeBron standing up and saying: “I’m a Cleveland guy. I grew up here, my family is here, my friends are here, my fans are here. This is where I want to stay. The owners have assured me we’re going to do everything we can to attract more talent, and as much as I’m tempted to go somewhere else, nothing would be more gratifying to me than to bring an NBA title to my hometown.”
You tell me, would that have been classy, or what?
Unfortunately, classy doesn’t usually prevail in real life. The underdog almost always falls to the more glamorous, exciting adversary. Let’s see, where would you prefer to live during the winter months, in dark, dank Cleveland, or amid the sunny, party atmosphere of Miami?
When you think about it, the ending was inevitable.
The sad sack lost. The leading man won.
John C. Reilly would understand.
— Steve Bisheff