It’s Time For Cleveland to Move On
The bar is packed, with everyone’s eyes glued to the TV. There are some MLB games on, but only the basketball game matters tonight. The game hangs in the balance, and the feeling of room is an explosive cocktail of stress and excitement. The game ends in disappointment for the Cleveland fans as their team falls short, as they’ve been prone to do over the past few years…
No, the year is not 2010, nor is it 2016. The fans are not rooting on a team led by LeBron James or Kyrie Irving. In fact, there isn’t even a Cleveland team at the arena that night.
The year is 2013. The people in bars all across Northeast Ohio are in their third year of cheering for teams residing 1,400 miles away. More accurately, they are rooting against native son and notorious heartbreaker LeBron James.
Yes, Cleveland has spent that past three Junes rooting fervently against one man. And it needs to stop.
The type of fandom Cleveland has been displaying in throughout the past three years can only be classified as spiteful and unnecessary. Many Clevelanders feel they are justified in their outright hatred of a basketball player, and they may have a point. The man essentially ended his professional relationship with the city in the most public and embarrassing way possible. Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned.
But 2013 should mark the end of this cycle of disdain.
For one thing LeBron has moved on without us. He’s won two titles and is recognized as the best player of his generation and a top ten player all time. The level of cognitive dissonance that accompanies arguing against the merits of one of the best player of all time is astronomical.
Outside of that, this type of fandom is unsatisfying. You cheer all season to see someone fail, preferably on the grandest stage possible, and if they do, then what? Emotionally investing in someone else’s failure won’t produce warm and funny feelings. Either he succeeds and you’re pissed or he fails and you’re not pissed. Nowhere in that description are the words “happy” or “thrilled”. It’s like paying for sex; the connection may feel real but it is fleeting and unfulfilling.
Lastly, watching the scene play out as described above makes Clevelanders look silly and frankly a little pathetic. Cleveland should never be worried about what outsiders think of us, but as a part of the city, it’s difficult to reconcile and identify with self-described Cavalier fans rooting so heavily for the Spurs or the Thunder or the Mavericks.
That’s not what fandom is about. We should celebrate the accomplishments of our teams, not the failures of others. Just like in sports, there are no shortcuts to a fulfilling fan experience. Cleveland WILL win a championship, with or without LeBron James. It will be a glorious day and it will be a rewarding experience in a way rooting for a random team from Texas never will be.