Friday, October 05, 2007


It should be all about the Indians thrilling victory over the Yankees today, the Tribe's first playoff win since a guy named C.C. Sabathia beat the Seattle Mariners. It should be all about the grit a guy named C.C. Sabathia showed in keeping the fifth-inning door closed while the Yankees were mercilessly pounding away at it. It should be all about the Indians offensive explosion, about Kenny Lofton finding the Fountain of Youth in a Gatorade cup and about Asdrubal Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, and Ryan Gark hitting homers.

And today Indians/Yankees Game 1 is the talk of the sports world. But the talk about the Indians/Yankees isn't focusing on the game. Instead, they're talking about LeBron James -- Akron native LeBron James, Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James -- wearing a Yankees hat to a playoff game at Jacbos Field.

LeBron was booed, and rightly so. Anyone whose ever worn a Pittsburgh Steeler or Baltimore Raven jersey in the Muni Lot before a Browns game thinks he got off easy. For this is our icon, the symbol of Cleveland's sports rebirth, a man known round the world basically jabbing a stick in the eye of Cleveland Fan.

Jim Rome's talking about it on his radio show today. ESPN's First Take television show is talking about it. They've written about it in the New York Times and Yahoo! asks
if LeBron's a traitor. They're arguing about it on blogs, on message'>message boards, and in bars.

Tribe legend Bob Feller had the best response when he said he would wear a Pistons hat and sit
right behind the Cavs bench
. He's also the kind of guy who appreciates history, the kind of guy who knows of former France president Charles De Gaulle's famous quote: "The graveyards are full of irreplaceable men."

Cleveland's been around a lot longer than LeBron James has, and it will be around a lot longer when he's gone. He might very well be leaving when his contract is up in three years, heading off to the Big Apple he apparently loves so well to play with his buddies on the New Jersey Nets. Or so the theory goes. Wearing a Yankees hat to a Jacobs Field playoff game against the Yankees does nothing to dispel that notion. And it also won't make us sad to see him go should he pull a few more stunts like this. We've lived with our sports misery for more than 40 years; don't tell us we can't keep doing it.

It's certainly not a dealbreaker in our love affair with LeBron, but it's not exactly forgetting to tell your wife that you're coming home late for work. Cleveland fans have trust issues and self-confidence issues. Even with championship-caliber basketball and baseball teams in town, we still look in the mirror and wonder if we look fat in these jerseys. (Well, all except Browns fans -- they DO look fat in these jerseys.)

Seemed that LeBron understood all this as he's done and said the right things ever since he joined the Cavs. And while he's said and done them, he's led our team to the NBA Finals. Now we've caught him out looking at other teams at our very important celebratory dinner.

This will happen when you're young and basically still a kid. LeBron doesn't turn 23 until the end of the year. He's surrounded himself with business partners he went to high school with, guys who think it's OK to speed at nearly 100 miles per hour. Guys who apparently aren't wise enough to tell LeBron he's going to take a big PR hit.

And while he's at it, he'll stain our enjoyment of a great night at Jacobs Field. Don't do it again, LeBron. We can live without you.


Anonymous said...

Good entry.

He should have never showed up with that hat. NEVER.

This will be hard - if not impossible - to forget.

Anonymous said...


Veronica said...

Cleveland, GROW UP!!! Just because you're from NE Ohio doesn't mean you owe its teams any allegiance. I could understand if this were college football--those guys play their hearts out--but we are talking professional sports. These teams would throw their fans under the bus in a New York minute if it meant more money. Just look at Art Modell and the old Browns...or PSLs at Browns Stadium.

I am a Steelers fan--a life-long Northeast Ohioan--deep in Browns territoryand I am damned proud of it. If LeBron has always been a Yankees fan, why should he fake it just so a bunch of homers can feel good about themselves.

Get a life, for Christ's sake. It's only sports.

SB said...

LeBron should have really thought about where his loyalties should lie before he turned traitor. As a Clevelander now living in New York, I can guarantee you that the big apple won't return the favor.
New Yorkers have asked me, on multiple occasions, "Does Cleveland have a basketball team?" Of course this mostly just reflects poorly on the Eastern Seaboard sports fan, who lives in a Yankee/Red Sock vacuum and typically thinks that the Western border of the US is somewhere around Buffalo. However it ought to be a message to LeBron: Don't crap where you eat. And don't hold your breath waiting to see Derek Jeter show up at a Knicks game wearing a Cavs hat.