The King Still Owns Cleveland

By Carla Peay, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: December 3, 2010

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WASHINGTON (BASN) — They showed up in droves, prepared to show the player they once loved how they felt about him now.

They showed up in tee-shirts that spelled out “Betrayed” and “Lyin’ King”. They brought disparaging signs and booed him every time he touched the ball.

And proved to all the world that LeBron James still owns them.

In an almost playoff style atmosphere, James returned to Cleveland for the first time since leaving the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat as a free agent after last season.

True, the Heat are struggling a bit to find their rhythm, and there are rumors of dissension with their head coach Eric Spoelstra.

But Thursday night’s game was all the evidence anyone needed that James knew he needed to upgrade his running mates if he ever wants to win a championship.

Miami played inspired basketball, while the Cavaliers were outclassed from the opening tip. During the game, James conversed with his former teammates while he was on the court and they were on the bench.

Perhaps they were joking, perhaps they were trash talking — there are conflicting reports of exactly what was said. But it was clear that James still held court on his old home court.

He sliced up his former teammates, turning in a 38-point performance and taking the entire fourth quarter off as the Heat blew the door off the Cavaliers in a 118-90 win that wasn’t as close as the final score.

The Cavs were deflated, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was fuming, and Cavaliers fans continued their meaningless taunts while James ignored them.

He appeared unaffected; almost above it all. He entered the arena with a spring in his step. He opened the game with his famous chalk toss.

And despite comments earlier in the week that he expected the game to be “emotionally draining”, James came across as relaxed and in charge. Talk about owning the room.

And as much as the Cleveland fans profess their anger and hatred, it’s a clear case of calling the grapes sour because you can’t have them.

They begged him to stay, but he decided to move on.

But please — enough of the jilted girlfriend analogies. James is a professional athlete who made a business decision he felt would improve his career. Leaving your job for a better one isn’t the same as dumping your spouse for a younger model.

Enough with the “it’s not what he did, its how he did it” complaints — he was a free agent. How many athletes find out their teams have cut or traded them on “SportsCenter?”

As that memorable line in the Godfather, Part II goes, “It’s the business we’ve chosen.”

It’s hard for a lot of fans to get this, because they have such an emotional investment in their teams — and that’s a good thing, or a lot of us would need a new line of work — but for the athletes, this is a job.

Cleveland fans, please stop behaving as though what James did is a personal affront; it looks petty and childish. And a little bit sad.

And only serves to validate exactly why LeBron James knew that it was time to take his talents to South Beach.