So now he’s scheduled to return home, not wearing a Cleveland uniform seemingly, but a Miami Heat uniform that has the bitter folks in his native town weeping over the abrupt departure he made over the summer during an abnormal free-agency adventure.
He didn’t have to request a trade to become known as a traitor in a town which once considered him an economic boon for emerging into a virtuous hero ever since LeBron James elevated his legacy at home, verified as a global superstar for a city that witnessed sporting indignities in the past.
He wasn’t accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, but adored for increasingly inflating the revenue and uplifting the Cleveland Cavaliers into prime contention. He has never been convicted for committing a severe crime, but has stood as the symbol for a forlorn franchise and amazed the crowd by routinely entertaining the population with his conventional baby powder toss to fuel an exquisite sporting theater in Cleveland.
It’s hard to understand a thin line between love and hate, just as much as it’s hard to understand this national disgust and hostility towards a megastar that had the gifted talent in transforming the bleak culture. In that span, he was proudly idolized and lifted the spirit among supporters, until he sacrificed his ego, ceded his legacy and accepted a decrease in salary to whereas he prioritized strictly to win a championship, more than protecting his claim to all-time greatness.
So why does the world hate James? Maybe because he wears a Heat uniform and has reneged on maintaining his loyalty. But more seemingly, he continues to reign as the most disliked player in America because of the arrogance he has shown from his giddy Nike ads or simply for abandoning Cleveland in such a heartless fashion. Whatever excuse you find convenient, you hate him. And tonight, he returns to Quicken Loans Arena, his former NBA address where the crowd adored him, pampered him and enriched his popularity.
When James left to manufacture arguably the most unprecedented project of all-time in the NBA, the bitter-hearted fans emotionally reacted by burning expensive No. 23 jerseys, by appearing on the radio locally expressing their enmity and by throwing rocks at his mural in downtown Cleveland, betrayed by his unsettling separation. It was his home growing up, but now home is a hellish territory and he is unwanted in a city he deserted this summer with the Decision.
This heavy talk is turned directly to the peculiar homecoming of James, who electrified Cleveland for seven years and returns as a villain after the town outrageously conveyed petulance and anger for losing its sports hero. No town wishes to lose its sports heroes, but in this worst-case scenario, the world seems to believe the Cleveland faithful will react impolitely or violently.
“I think it’s going to be very emotional for myself,” LeBron said earlier this week. “It’s going to be very emotionally draining.”
In addition, it will be helluva.
As we turn our curiosity towards LeBron ever since hijacking television in a one-hour extravaganza, just so he could announce callously and selfishly that he was joining forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, most of America will be rooting for the Cavaliers and voicing their displeasure towards James, the most hated athlete in America.
His decision prompted an outrage in Cleveland, the kind of anger that can lead to violence or a maniacal plot in his arrival on a night when heavy security will be in attendance to reduce the possibility of a soulless riot in a long-suffering city, still awaiting its first major championship since 1964.
There have been a few incidents in the past for the uncivilized behavior of uncontrollable fans, provoking a riot in 1974 at the Cleveland Indians ballgame when a fan ran onto the field and tried to steal the cap of Texas Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs, and fans armed with knives and chains charged the field as well.
But the reality came to light in the 1980’s when Cleveland Browns officials banned fans from bringing dog food into the games after rowdy fans had begin throwing Milk Bones at players. And as the whole world’s eyes gaze at the city tonight, the two-time Most Valuable Player is perceived as the two-faced Traitor. His endearing talent, and the likability given to him from such a young age, pretty much uplifted his fame and easily he emerged into a global superstar.
For now, the Heat experiment has failed, and James’ teammates are considered soft as the world blames him for the misery and early droughts. Already, he has a large influence on the Heat. For instance, if he raises his performance level, then his teammates raises their performance level. If he has an awful night, then his teammates have an awful night. For a while there, this city has percolated in a slew of hate, refusing to put a seven-year marriage out of its misery and has persist in expanding the madness, ready to distastefully serenade unpleasant chants.
With that in mind, the Heat are vulnerable of losing to the Cavs on an emotional night with its sluggish starts and lack of chemistry, but still it’s mostly how James response to an impetuous crowd. This could be the time he rises to the occasion, and suddenly emerge as a leader for a franchise that has fallen drastically under a dull-minded coach Erik Spoelstra, who team president Pat Riley trusts in, while James seems discontent of his inability to inspire his players. It will be interesting to see how James handle the difficulty surrounded by resentful fans who deeply hates him.
This homecoming won’t heal the grievance in Cleveland, infuriated over James’ venture this season to ally with Wade and Bosh. This is exactly the chance to find his swagger and confidence against his former team on possibly the grandest stage of his disheveled career. It figures that he doesn’t want to face the derision of dropping a critical game against his former team, through all the political diatribes which has caused an abominable uproar.
It’s hard to believe the surrealism in such a viral transition. The adulation is lost, the praise is lost, and the sense of likability is lost. So now, he is surrounded by tremendous pressure and could hopefully vanquish his inability to handle the challenge of immense expectations. The actions taken by former teammate Mo Williams following the team’s morning shootaround may have been a clear understanding for what to expect in Cleveland. He was seen wearing a Boston Red Sox jacket and had spoken with reporters.
“It’s almost like your ex-girlfriend coming to your wedding,” Williams said.
For five months, you’ve been buzzing about James homecoming. For five months, he has been seen as a villain, a jilted lover with no loyalty.
Whatever the outcome is, he has an emotional night and obviously his toughest challenge ever. We’re in for a surprise, I guess you can say.