Sunday, April 11, 2010

LeBron going, or not going
The truth is LeBron James doesn't owe Cleveland anything. He doesn't owe the Cavaliers anything.

On that summer night in 2003 when the draft lottery took place, my friends and I went crazy. We didn't know how good James would be. We certainly didn't use the word "championship." What LeBron James meant was the transformation of a franchise.

Before LeBron, the Cavaliers had been a mess. When Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance left, so did many of the fans. The last five years before James were mediocre at best, wretched at worst.

But LeBron gave the Cavaliers something they hadn't had since the early 1990s -- hope.

It was James that made Gund Arena a place to go for something other than WWE. It was James who made the Cavaliers competitive, exciting and fun. It was James' presence that made Dan Gilbert buy the team. It was James who made Gilbert attack the challenge of building a contender like a long-time Cleveland fan -- not a Detroit businessman.

The Cavaliers are one of the top three contenders for the NBA title. If they win it, great. LeBron may stay, and he may go. If they lose, that might not change anything.

I just hope that should LeBron go to New York, New Jersey, Miami or Detroit, that fans don't turn on him. He's done more for the franchise than anyone, save maybe Nick Miletti.

It was pure luck that Cleveland got to have LeBron James. The fans didn't earn him or deserve him. It was just a ping-pong ball bouncing the right way.

Whatever James does this summer, I hope everyone realizes that he's already done plenty for the franchise, for the fans, for the city.

Still, I really hope he stays. I don't want to read any Mike Lupica columns about how he was destined for The Big Apple. Ugh.



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