The Mourning After
The national perspective of last night’s series conclusion:
LeBron James finally gets the ring he deserved.
Cleveland’s perspective of last night’s series conclusion:
Attending the wedding reception of the love of your life and watching him dance with his beautiful bride, hoping that, for one second, he looks at you and wishes it was you he was dancing with.
It’s wishful thinking, I know. In the sports world, a ring is a ring.
But in the real world, the world that the everyday, 9-5 worker lives in, a ring isn’t just an accomplishment. A ring is a symbol of love and commitment. A ring means sharing your heart. It symbolizes loyalty, and it’s a subtle way of saying, “I’m not happy unless you’re happy.”
In the real world, a ring is only as meaningful as the person who put it on your finger.
Athletes have a different mindset than you or I. They’re programmed differently. To us, sports are a form of entertainment. Because we’re passionate about them, sometimes it’s hard to view the sports industry as a business.
Athletes have to understand that their blood, sweat and tears in one uniform can be replaced with another uniform at any point in time. They know that loyalty isn’t always in their control. In fact, loyalty is more of a fan’s concern than a professional athlete’s concern. Sometimes they have to hurt feelings in order to get ahead.
We have spent two years being bitter toward LeBron James for doing what he thought he had to do to get ahead. This morning, we realize that we can’t do that anymore. While it may be a tough pill to swallow, it may be time for us to realize that maybe he was right. He did what he said he was going to do. He got what he deserved. We just feel that he did it in the wrong city.
Would he have won a ring in Cleveland? Ever?
At some point, I have to believe it would have happened. I understand that there are a few very talented sports icons who never won their rings. Dan Marino stuck it out in Miami and he has little to show for it other than his impeccable reputation and mentions of one of the best QB’s ever to play the game. Karl Malone may have been one of the best power forwards to ever play, but he has no jewelry to prove it. While those are two incredible examples of terrific careers with no championships, these two men aren’t “The Chosen One.”
If we’re speaking of raw talent alone, LeBron James doesn’t have a lot of competition. Even when he was in Cleveland, playing amongst mediocre teammates, the Cavaliers were a threat. We only needed one, solid player to come to us. Batman needed his Robin.
Did Dan Gilbert make that happen? No.
Did Dan Gilbert do what he could? I think so.
Trying to persuade an elite athlete to come play for the Cavaliers, a team that very clearly belonged to a player, was a constant, uphill battle. “Normal” people aren’t flocking to Cleveland, so how can we expect superstars to come here?
We did expect LeBron to stay here. He grew up in northeast Ohio. He understood the people here. He knew how passionate we are and how hungry we have been to see our city win a championship in anything. He made a promise to us that he would win here.
That’s why last night hurt. He made a promise, and he fulfilled it. He just did it for the wrong city and for the wrong people.
It was obvious early on that the Heat were going to win the championship last night. We had three quarters to prepare ourselves to witness the inevitable. Because we had ample time to let the notion set in, there were only two parts of the game that really got to me.
1) When LeBron James, postgame, said, “I’d like to thank the fans here, wow, you’re unbelievable. I wouldn’t want to share this with anyone else.”
I don’t think he said it that way to take a dig at all of his Cleveland “haters”, and I understand that he had to say that. He was in their arena. I get it.
Let’s put the whole Cleveland thing aside for a moment, and concentrate on the “fans” in Miami. I use the term “fans” as loosely as the lady parts in South Beach. Miami, to my knowledge, has never been regarded as one of the better fan bases in any sport, ever. I understand that there are a lot of things to do in south Florida, and it takes away from the sports teams. But purchasing a $400 nosebleed at American Airlines Arena last night doesn’t make you a fan. It just gives you somewhere to pre-game before hitting the pompous Miami clubs. Throwing on a Heat jersey doesn’t make you a fan just like sitting in a cockpit doesn’t make you a pilot.
You have to have heart. I’ve spent a little time in Miami, and I can say that there’s not a whole lot of heart down there. There’s a lot of boobs, muscle, and money. They’re just kind of lacking on the heart and soul department.
For me though, LeBron thanking the fans wasn’t the most emotional part of the night. It stung a little, but it didn’t hurt the way I imagined. Honestly, it didn’t even bother me seeing him win MVP or raise that Championship trophy.
Something happened shortly after LeBron spoke with that wretched hag, Doris Burke, that made me realize that there were more important things happening in American Airlines Arena that night.
It happened after the Oklahoma City Thunder very professionally and humbly congratulated Miami for winning the championship. It happened when that team thought that every camera in the arena was focused on the Heat. It happened when that team, scattered with young stars, stopped being professional athletes and let themselves be human.
I watched as Kevin Durant stopped in that hallway and buried his face into his mother’s shoulders and had a good cry. For a minute, we were reminded that when no one is watching, these men are just like you and I. I mean, other than the money and fame.
Sports may be a business. Athletes pretend that they get that.
LeBron thought of us last night.
I knew that if we were living in a chick flick, and LeBron was dancing with this beautiful, Miami-made wife, he would have looked over our table and we would know who he wishes he were dancing with.
We can’t make jokes anymore. We can’t fault him for leaving in order to get a ring. He won and we lost. We are officially closing the door on LeBron James.
After all, we only “hated” him because we loved him. We wanted to put a ring on his finger. We wanted our happiness to be his happiness. We wanted commitment that he couldn’t offer.
That’s how relationships end.
So as we watched him dance the night away with the big-boobed bombshell, we realize that we can’t stay stuck on him forever. We realize that we need to find our own man.
We won’t forget him though. We had good times together.
And he won’t forget us either.