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The King Of Cleveland

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Cleveland sports fans don't need LeBron James. We've been through this before. This is LeBron's problem now, and he no longer represents our city; we do.

Step One: Denial

I didn't think he was gone. No way did he have the stones to do this on national television. No one, especially someone who claimed to know what it is like as a Cleveland fan, could just jam a knife into the heart of a fan base on national TV.  

Step Two: Anger

Well I, along with every other person in Cleveland, have this one in spades. I don't even know if anger is strong enough of a word. Maybe we can make up a new word for the level of pissed we were/are. Gilbertissed is my submission.

Step Three: Bargaining

Happened yesterday. You want LeTraitor? Give us a crapload of picks and cap space relief. Do I wish that we could have made LePippen prove that he was "in it for less money"? Damn straight I do. But I understand why we had to scratch his back in order to start a rebuild.

Step Four: Depression

No matter you look, you see it. Billboards being taken down. Fans with the heads in their hands. I still refuse to watch ESPN in case they have asshat and his merry sidekicks Dwayne Wade and his sidekicks in their new jerseys laughing and having a good time. I don't need that. I just want to forget that LeSidekick was even a member of my team.  

Step Five: Acceptance

This is where I hope I can help you.  

LeBron made a really poor choice the other night. Not for basketball reasons, but for something else.

Look at other legends. Larry Bird, from French Lick Indiana, is now running the Indiana Pacers. Michael Jordan, from Wilmington, N.C., is back home as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Prodigal sons returning to their homelands as Kings. Our "King" took the easy way out. He can never return home. That may not bother him now or the near future as he plays with his buddies in Miami. But trust me, it will. It will haunt him.  

No longer will it always be someone else's fault. In Cleveland it was always something that LBJ was missing. He needs this, or he needs that. It seemed like it was never ending. No one ever asked, "Maybe instead of getting a Pippen for LeBron's Jordan, maybe we should be sure that LBJ isn't a Pippen himself?" It was never on him. We could always find a scapegoat.  

That won't happen in Miami. Now it is going to get real for No. 6, no one expects Chris Bosh to carry the Heat, they know he is a secondary player. Dwayne Wade already won a championship, he will get the credit if they win, and LeFraud will get the blame if they don't. That will be new for LBJ, he's never had to shoulder part of the blame, now he will have it all squarely on him. It won't be like it was back home. The thrill of spending money, the continuous adulation of his yes men, the possible thrill of winning a hollow championship will all fade. Not having someplace adore you will kill him.

Who is going to build LeBron's statue? Who is going to rename a street for him? Won't be Miami, that will be reserved for Wade.

I will never be cool with what went down this offseason, but I feel good about where we as Cleveland fans are.  You know it as well as I do, being a Cleveland fan isn't easy. I was in grade school during The Drive and The Fumble. I wore my Browns shirt the next day every time. You know that feeling. When Mesa blew the save, I rocked my Lofton jersey the following day. When LeBron took off, I wore my Sizemore T-shirt.

Other cities will laugh and point. We are the poor guy who keeps falling in love with the woman who cheats on us. The very next day we are at her door with a bouquet of flowers ready to go through it all again. "There goes Cleveland, don't they know any better?" Maybe I don't know better, but I know that one of those days that girl is going to reward my persistence. I don't know when or who, but I know it is coming.

So excuse me if I pick myself up, dust off my boots and grab that bouquet of flowers and knock on that girls door again. Yep, it is me, Cleveland fan here again. What do you have for me now? Trust me, we can take it. For those who don't think we can bounce back from a player leaving us, please. We had an owner take an entire franchise from us, turn them into a rival, and won a championship. One spoiled basketball player is a blip on the radar for us. We are the duct tape of fandom. No matter what you throw at us, be can take it. We will be back stronger. The real King of Cleveland isn't some egotistical kid from Akron. The King of Cleveland is the fan that keeps coming back. 

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.