King Of His Town: Can Lebron End Cleveland’s Championship Drought?
When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal this off-season, there is little doubt that it was a move that first needed the approval of star forward LeBron James. Even when they acquired Anthony Parker and Leon Powe, LeBron must have been supportive of the moves. The reason why is King James has a team and a city wrapped around his finger and they will do almost anything to keep him around. Until this last week though, none of us realized just how much power LeBron truly had.
Lebron is so worshipped in Cleveland that he apparently even has some control over what the other professional teams in town do. Earlier this week it was reported that than Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards assaulted a promoter outside of a night club in downtown Cleveland. The man he allegedly punched, Edward Givens, happens to be a close friend of Lebron’s. He also happens to weigh about 130 pounds. The next day LeBron accused Edwards of being jealous of him and compared the incident to hitting one of his kids.
The Browns promptly traded Edwards to the New York Jets only a few days later. It would have been a P.R. nightmare for them had they kept the former Pro Bowler. It’s difficult to envision any other current athlete having so much power in the town they play in. If one of Kobe Bryant’s friends was knocked out by Manny Ramirez, it’s unlikely that the city of Los Angeles would turn on Manny to the point where the team would have to trade him. The Browns didn’t even wait to see if the city of Cleveland would turn on Edwards, they knew it was inevitable.
With all the city has been through, can you really blame Cleveland sports fans? No professional team in the city has won a title since the 1964 Browns upset the Baltimore Colts to win the National Football League Championship Game. As the town closes in on a half-century championship drought, it’s easy to see why the fans have become impatient.
The fans clearly see the Cavs as their best shot to win a championship. The Browns are off to a 1-4 start this season and cannot seem to make up their mind about who their starting quarterback should be. The Indians were picked by many to win the American League Central Division in 2009 but instead finished tied for last with the lowly Kansas City Royals. It is not surprising than that the city has put all of their hopes squarely on the shoulders of the man that has been nick-named “King James.” The name couldn’t be more fitting as it becomes more and more clear that he rules the town.
If Edwards had stayed with the Browns and LeBron left at the end of the 2009-10 season when his contract is up, the fans might have chased the University of Michigan alum all the way back to his home state. Now they won’t have that chance. Instead, a collective city will have to hold its breath while they wait for their king to make up his mind.
All sports fans know how it feels to be disappointed by their team, but no city knows that feeling quite like Cleveland does. For 45 years every NBA, NFL and MLB season has ended with a loss. No parades, no championship rings, no bragging rights among friends, only disappointment. The New York Yankees alone have won 16 World Series Titles since Cleveland’s last major championship. Even the once cursed town of Philadelphia broke their losing streak last year when the Phillies won the World Series.
Cubs fans can whine all they want, but the Bulls, Bears and White Sox have all won championships since the last title in Cleveland. And with LeBron’s contract expiring at the end of the upcoming NBA season, this year will most likely be more nerve-wrecking than ever for fans from the cursed city.
For an entire city, LeBron James represents hope. The hope that no one will have to go an entire lifetime without seeing any of their teams win a championship. The hope that one man can rescue a city from decades of losing. With all of that said, one cannot help but wonder if LeBron will contribute to the suffering of his home-state and leave for New York when the season is over. If that does happen, Braylon Edwards may find that his stay in New York will be short-lived.