The Second Coming. The Prodigal Son is back. The Return of the King. That was all I heard last week whenever I watched ESPN or turned on Sports Talk Radio. I wasn’t sure whether I was at a Sunday morning church service or watching two hobbits throw a golden ring into the fires of Mordor.
Yes, we all know by now that the great LeBron James is bringing his basketball talents back to Cleveland. The city of winners (said in jest) is rejoicing as their “King” announced last week through the website at si.com that he was leaving the beaches of Miami for the shores of Lake Erie. Workers stopped their work, traffic stalled throughout the city, everything came to a standstill in northeast Ohio as the rapture took place..
But to be totally honest with you, who cares? I love sports as much as anyone, as you can obviously deduce each week, but is it really necessary to get so worked up over one basketball player, albeit a good one, deciding to leave one team for another and then collect some $40 million for two years of playing a game that nobody watches anyway. I will admit, I did get excited once a couple of decades ago when a certain #23 announced his return to basketball and then proceeded to lead his team to three more consecutive NBA titles. I will be the first to buy Mr. Scott Dryden a steak dinner if the Cavaliers win the next three NBA titles.
We posted the question on our Facebook page asking for your thoughts on LeBron returning to Ohio and as I expected folks didn’t have much to say. “Coming home to the money” was one comment. “It’s a sad society that praises a ball player as much as they do when we have men and women dying every day for our freedom that never get noticed” said another lady. One local family was in Chicago last week and whenever anyone asked where they were from and they said Ohio, the first response they got was, “Ohio! What do you think about LeBron?” All in all, we got very few responses which of course would have been quite different if we were the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
Perhaps in Cleveland and northeast Ohio folks can get excited about the possibility that there might actually be a winning team there now. No titles since 1948 in any sport. Folks down here in Adams County don’t seem to care much about LeBron or the Cleveland Cavaliers. What were we worried about last week in sports? Well, of course it was the winning streak that our Cincinnati Reds are on leading up to the All-Star break or who was winning the local Knothole tournaments.
What has also amazed me is that all these folks who bashed LeBron and called him every name in the book while he was holding the world “hostage” have now changed their tune. I hear that Old Navy is having another sale this week on flip-flops for all of you. If you are LeBron, you have just got to be laughing every minute, or in his case laughing all the way to the bank. What will they do if LeBron plays out his two-year contract and then decides to move elsewhere again, find a new “home”? Burn those jerseys again, hang the man in effigy? Sports fans are such a fickle bunch.
At least LeBron is covering all his bases. In his letter to si.com, he says this about the Cavaliers, “I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic.” So if the Cavs don’t deliver a title this season, LeBron can point back at the letter and give it the old “see I told you so.”
Bloomberg News reports that the return of LeBron will bring $500 million in economic benefit to northeast Ohio and then the 2016 Republican National Convention comes to the city by the lake. I assume by that time they will be prepared to nominate LeBron to be the Republican presidential candidate. At least he would carry Ohio!
Perhaps LeBron is returning to Cleveland for all the right reasons, perhaps he is just chasing another big paycheck. Therein lies why most of us average Americans don’t really care. We have to concern ourselves with paying the bills and the stresses of everyday life. We don’t have time to feel good about men making more than we will see in a lifetime to play basketball. I am willing to bet that is has been a long time since LeBron sat down and wrote a check to make his car payment or pay his electric bill. Welcome to our world.
Whatever the case and whatever your thoughts may be, the second LeBron “decision” has come and gone and it is safe to say that here in southern Ohio most people could care less. We have far more pressing issues and decisions to worry about. When are the Reds going to make that trade? When does football season start? How much is gas today? What’s for dinner tonight? You get the point.
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.