I didn't throw any batteries at LeBron, but I could probably pick some faces out of a lineup. It was December 2, 2010. The Miami Heat was making its first post-Decision trip to Cleveland. To put in mildly, my bruised hometown was still not over King James' choice to leave town. Quicken Loans Arena was basically one huge echo chamber of beer-fueled ululation. Cops were everywhere, prowling the aisles, eyes open for guys trying to bean LeBron with AAA Duracells. Anyone in LeBron gear was doused in beer.
It was insane. People were angry, the groupthink frequency of shared hurt pitched so high, I figured the town would never get over it. Today I think you'll still get a lower dose of the same ire if you mention King James anywhere in the Cuyahoga River Valley. But hey, there's still some virtue in keeping a grudge, right? Kirk didn't just give the Klingons a free pass right after they killed his son, no?
Now, some apostate back home are trying to take that away from us too. Because there aren't enough reasons already for the rest of the country to laugh at Clevelanders, a group of four guys from Northeast Ohio are launching a campaign aimed at luring LeBron back when he again hits free agency after this year.
I wish that I were making that up, or at least that the campaign were an ironic stab at some subterfuge snark. It's not. They've basically dragged our last shred of dignity out into the open, dosed it in gasoline, and flicked the match.
And to kick it off, on Wednesday, when the Heat heads to Ohio to meet the Cavs, the group plans to post up outside the arena in downtown Cleveland, handing out 2,000 T-shirts emblazoned with their logo. The forecast is for 30 degrees with snow around tip-off. The Cavs are 4-10. As with anywhere else, the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is when the bars downtown will be packed with shithoused boozers. This will not go well.
"Our main goal is not to beg him to come back*," 24-year-old Josh Raggi, one of the campaign's founders, told the Akron Beacon Journal. "Out main focus is to let LeBron know we're going to accept him coming back**. We're not the group of haters.
"We realize LeBron had a point***. He didn't have the supporting cast here he needed to win. We have a young and vibrant team. We have the supporting cast. I believe that it's 50-50 he leaves Miami. But if he leaves Miami, we think he's coming to Cleveland****."
Anyway, Miami Heat fans, I don't think you have a lot to worry about. A couple of T-shirts and billboards and an incredibly earnest effort can't undo what ego and Nike hath wrought.
* That's what it sounds like. ** Uh... who the hell is "we"? *** Stopstopstopstopstopstopstop. **** Ugh.
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