“You gonna be ‘Bitches’ … I mean, like you have so many bitches, that’s what n****s is gonna call you. No disrespect.”
– Riley Freeman
Welcome to Bitches, Ohio.
You know the town. Home to the Browns and the Dawg Pound, the Rock ‘N Roll Hall and Halle Berry. You call it Cleveland. But in the five months since the local basketball team lost its sunshine when LeBron James decided to write the next chapter of his career with the Miami Heat, the blue-collar Midwestern city that was supposed to be tough enough to handle sports heartbreak has been — at least on TV — playing the role of a pathetic lovesick puppy.
The script is familiar: “It’s not that he left, it’s HOW he left … He didn’t have to do the whole ‘Decision’ thing … Imagine if your girlfriend broke up with you on national TV.”
True, getting dumped by my girl on national TV would be horrible. That’s why I thought the worst dating show of all-time was “Change of Heart.” Had it happened to me, I’d be humiliated, angry, spiteful, sick. I get that. But we’re not talking about matters of the heart — we talking ’bout sports, we talking ’bout business, and this is getting silly. When did LeBron James-and-Cleveland become a romantic relationship? When did one party’s commitment to the other ever go beyond a written contract?
But listen to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Listen to the fans profiled in the ESPN “Outside the Lines” segment and the viral “Quitness” video. The downplaying of what LeBron meant to the city (“We’re better without you!”); the over-dramatizing of the breakup (“LeBron James frauded the city of Cleveland.”); the petty name-calling (“You left like a coward.”); the delusional break from common sense and reality (“Traitors don’t leave legacies.”); the eventual revelation that one side secretly wants the other back (Gilbert is still paying lawyers to investigate the Heat’s recruitment of LeBron); these are all symptoms of a jilted lover (“It’s like a woman cheating on you.”).
Now here’s the ugly truth about Cleveland, the Cavs, and their relationship with LeBron James: They never really loved him, they only loved what he could do for them.