This weekend’s Sunday conversation on SportsCenter was with LeBron James, and the conversation was revealing. LeBron was asked where his loyalties lay, and no, he didn’t mention Cleveland, and he didn’t mention the Cavs. He mentioned Akron, and he seemed to be setting the stage for his departure at the end of this season:
My loyalty is to Akron. I’m looking forward to this upcoming season, but I’m looking forward to the summer of 2010, too, to see what may happen. No matter what happens that summer, you know, I’m still here. I’ve got a nice big house here that I’m always coming back to. You know, I love this city and I’ll always give back to this city no matter what my profession; if it takes me somewhere else.
Now, I don’t know a lot about Ohio. But commenters on various blogs have convinced me that Akronites and Youngstowners (apparently that’s a place near Akron) aren’t too fond of Clevelanders. Neither am I (but my personal feelings are besides the point). LeBron is an Akronite. His MVP announcement was in his old high school in Akron, which is where he’ll announce his intention to play for the Knicks.
Look at the comments on Cleveland.com. Folks are already resigned to the notion that LeBron is ghost. And his Sunday conversation didn’t help matters. They are villifying him already as, of all things, a bad tipper.
It also doesn’t help that one of the main factors Cavs fans cite as proof of LeBron’s intention to stay – his giant new Akron house – has been eviscerated by King James himself: “I’ve got a nice big house here that I’m always coming back to.” “[A]lways coming back to.”
Implication: After I leave for a kingpin’s Central Park apartment on the top of New York City, which in case you haven’t noticed is home to moguls, tastemakers, and the summit of culture, cuisine, and business, I’ll come back to Akron for the Summer. Cleveland is the home of, well, Cleveland (and not LeBron James). It cheapens LeBron to stay.
Also, for the upteenth time, replace LeBron with Al Harrington and the Cavs are a lotto team, or now, with Shaq, a 6-8 seed. So don’t give me no jive about the “supporting cast.”
Now could this all be a tease? Sure. But the signs point to LeBron moving on from the dregs and into the limelight on one of the only stages left that matters.
LeBroptimism up. Way up.