Justice Is Served

May 15, 2010 10:07 AM

Just say it, LeBron: Are you leaving or not?


Say you're leaving, LeBron.

Just say it, dude. Go ahead.

Say it now, and spare your hometown the heartbreak and angst that will come as it counts down to July 1 for you to go.

What other reaction can your city have? It has given you everything and discovered not even that was enough.

Just say it ... let this down-on-its-luck city -- its woe-is-me mentality justified because of the other stars it loved who fled to markets with bigger, brighter stages -- get on with the mourning that will accompany another rejection.

But be honest. Tell the truth. Say to all the men and the women who have fawned over you that your decision to forsake Cleveland is based on dollars and business sense. Admit to them that your desire to join the ranks of billionaires like Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison and Bill Gates means more than the undying love the city showed you.

This city can't deny you that. It can give you many things, but it must refuse to sell itself to the whims of a man who has everything and still seeks more.

Now, go build your global brand elsewhere if you must. Take the iconic figure you are here and ditch it like last week's Sports Illustrated. Your hometown can't ensure you achieve such stature, although it has tried. Your city has rolled out the red carpet for you, its native son, and it is the native son's decision on whether to stay or go.

Yours should be an easy call: leave.

To expect Cleveland to be an international city, a place where you can find a socioeconomic infrastructure that can draw the uber-rich and famous to it, would be as inexplicable as putting a sumo wrestler on the front cover of Men's Health.

You want to stretch. You see a vast world out there that you want to explore and exploit. Do people in your hometown dare begrudge your global aspirations? Should they denounce you for playing out your life's dreams?

Yet some of them will, right? They'll see themselves as jilted lovers, standing at the altar and waiting for the groom to show up. He never does; he's out looking for love in all the wrong places.

And, LeBron, you will surely find that love.

You'll find it in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles or Miami, perhaps even in Dallas, too. You'll find it because you have the otherworldly talents of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird that suitors will pay handsomely for. Their red carpets will be longer and redder and thicker than the red carpets you have walked on here.

No matter where you go, if you go anywhere at all, you will never find the love you had here. Cleveland is your city, your town and its people are your people. This city is part of your DNA; you are a part of its DNA. Both of you are joined at the hip, like Siamese twins. Still, it isn't enough to keep you.

So say you're leaving, LeBron.

Say you're leaving because this city isn't big enough for you and your entourage. Say you're leaving because you can't find the happiness here that you believe you can find in cities that are larger and more dynamic than yours.

Say you're leaving because your city and its people didn't do everything they could do to bring you happiness. Say you're leaving because they didn't love you as much as you needed to be loved.

Say you're leaving because you valued the tangible over the intangible - you favored money over love. Your hometown can't sate your greed. It can't give you enough love to fill your bank account with the dollars that seem to drive whatever you do.

Say you're leaving because the boos in Game 5 cut deep into your soul, blackening your heart like pharaoh's toward the men and the women, the boys and the girls who had only cheered you before; ignore their reasons for booing. Say you're leaving because you want money to redefine your legacy.

But understand that you're leaving empty-handed, taking not a single title to your new city; leave because you think you can easily win a title in some other place when you couldn't win one here.

Leave because your petulance and your egotism often have made you an insufferable bore. Leave knowing that people here will forever remember your splendid performances at The Q even as they decry the feckless way you discarded their affections.

So say you're leaving, LeBron. Just say it.


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