Last night, LeBron James arrived at the Quicken Loans arena in Cleveland wearing a T-shirt that said "Long Live the King." That kind of hubris doesn't go over well in the Paris of the Rust Belt. Especially not when you are the fallen hometown hero, the man who had his own Jesus-style poster downtown until his unceremonious exodus last summer.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are having a terrible season. There was no reason to believe they should trounce the Miami Heat's dream team of James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. But they are an underdog team in an underdog town. Their specialty is rallying at the last second for an improbable win. James helped them do it countless times when he was one of them. Last night, he was not one of them.
So the Cavs pulled out all the stops and beat the Heat 102-90. As the Cleveland fans exploded with cheers, James walked off the court hanging his head.
For the Heat, it was embarrassing but not the end of the world. The dream team is still headed to the Eastern Conference playoffs. Still, it must hurt for a star-studded group to get whipped by a team that has won only a quarter of its games this season.
For the Cavs, it was a biblical kind of revenge. James has spent the season basking in the glory of his new team, his new South Beach celebrity life. Cleveland has played the role of first wife -- jilted, old, and ridiculed for its wrinkles. One victory was all fans needed to feel pretty again. And to bust a hole in LeBron's ego.