Imagine you’re a Cleveland sports fan. Your teams, the football Browns, baseball Indians and basketball Cavaliers are notorious losers. So much so that the city hasn’t boasted a champion in 46 years. But you’ve had LeBron James, the two-time reigning NBA MVP, who was raised in nearby Akron and is a beacon of hope for the future. With him in a Cavaliers uniform, Cleveland is a perennial championship contender. Without him, the Cavs become basketball purgatory, an outpost for has-beens and never-will-be’s.
After seven seasons with the Cavaliers, James is currently a free-agent, able to sign with any team in the league. For the last week, billionaire owners have humbly payed homage to King James at his court in Cleveland in an attempt to recruit the 25-year-old star to their teams. ESPN and James’ representatives have agreed to a one-hour TV special on Thursday night that will culminate in James’ breathlessly anticipated decision.
So I have to ask, C-Towners: Will you be watching tomorrow night when James saves or submarines your sports dreams? Are you confident enough to wear your vintage James high-school jersey to the local pub, poised to celebrate that hometown loyalty reigned supreme, or does the thought of seeing James smile while he dons a Miami Heat hat (or Chicago Bulls or New York Knicks chapeau) have the potential to be as scarring as the Zapruder film? At about 9:59 PM tomorrow night, the streets of Cleveland will resemble Times Square on V-J Day…or, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. There’s no third option. Either way, I hope the cameras are rolling at the moment of truth.