The summer of hate

Mike Crissman

I hate LeBron James.

Actually, hate’s a strong word. I don’t actually hate him, but let’s just say if he has a career-ending injury in the Miami Heat’s season opener later this year I won’t be upset.

Many interesting, significant events occurred this summer while we were on break: BP became a boycott-worthy brand after its sticky situation in the Gulf of Mexico, Toy Story 3 met everyone’s high expectations, the U.S. soccer team made soccer relevant for 15 minutes during the FIFA World Cup, Mel Gibson destroyed his career and Gary Coleman died.

In my opinion, each of these stories deserves prominence over the egotistical, pompous circus-of-a-summer that the former Queen of Cleveland put on. But that’s just my bitter, resentful, hope-he-gets-injured self talking.

In reality, LeBron James’ decision to not re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers and head for greener pastures down south was, in fact, the biggest, most controversial story of the summer, at least for Northeast Ohioans.

I’m sure you’ve heard this 56 times already, but it’s not so much what he did as how he did it.

Sure, at the end of the day I can understand LeBron’s decision to join forces with close friends and fellow NBA superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. I can see the appeal of the warmer weather, the bigger city and the probability of winning multiple championships immediately.

But the hour-long, nationally televised, live primetime special on ESPN, so meekly titled “The Decision,” was just plain disgusting. It was a textbook lesson on how to betray your hometown team — and the fans that made you what you are — on the biggest scale, in the worst way.

The phrase “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” as uttered by the Akron native during that fateful July night, will live on in infamy as a way to describe any selfish easy way out.

Unfortunately for LeBron, his classless “Decision” was watched and closely scrutinized not only by people in Ohio, but all across the country.

The Cavaliers weren’t the only team LeBron took advantage of and kept in suspense up until the decision. Teams such as the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls, who catered to the 25-year-old’s every whim in the hopes of signing him, had a share in the deep disappointment. Fans of those teams are sure to root against LeBron for a long time to come. Rest assured, if New Yorkers had his jerseys, they’d burn them, too.

Not only did he lose his good-guy identity on his journey to become the NBA’s villain, but he lost any chance of one day becoming the greatest basketball player. No matter how many rings he wins, and no matter what LeBron says, it just won’t be the same as winning in Cleveland.

LeBron was the man in Cleveland. He owned the team, and he owned the city. Winning a championship in what is arguably the most tortured sports town in America would have solidified his legacy. In Miami, he’ll share the spotlight with two other superstars in a city that will never give him the same attention and special treatment he enjoyed here.

He burned Cavs fans, he burned his hometown, he burned the other teams that courted him during free agency and he burned himself.

It seems the Miami Heat is a perfect fit for LeBron after all.

Mike Crissman is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].