we are cleveland

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I know for a fact that I’m one of many Clevelanders tired of the seemingly unending debate over LeBron’s soon-to-be home town. We’ve been hearing about it for months: on ESPN, on the front page of the PD and via Twitter, where every tweeter is his or her own sportscast. Conjectures on LeBron’s potential move have been made by respected sports authorities. Predictions have been put forth by nearly every season ticket holder. But ultimately, as we all know, there is only one man who will decide: The King, himself. So I say this: let him choose his own fate, and let us Clevelanders determine what really matters to us as a city. As a people. Because LeBron is not Cleveland.

We are Cleveland.

To state the obvious: what LeBron has done in a mere six seasons as a Cavalier is incredible. He is undoubtedly one of the best basketball players of all time and one of the most inspiring athletes of our generation. Hundreds of people will go watch his pre-game warm-up – at away games. He not only boosts the local economy, he drastically increases game attendance in cities across the country when he struts into their town with nothing but his uniform, sweatband and pair of sparklin’ Nike Zooms. His poise, his confidence, the camaraderie he shares with his teammates – it all comes together every game like a birthday magic show. All the kids are entertained by the feats whether they like the magician or not. This is all well and good, but it so easily lets one simple fact slip through the cracks.

We are Cleveland.

LeBron is not a permanent fixture, however much we would love to claim the opposite to be the case. If he leaves, he will be missed. No doubt about that. He’s done much for this city by his mere existence and raw talent, and both our wallets and our hearts will hurt at his loss. But I hate to break it to you LeBron: you are not Cleveland. Cleveland was a great city before you got here. Cleveland was a great city while you were here. And Cleveland will still be a great city after you leave. Why? Because

We are Cleveland.

We are the common folk commuting every day to work. We are the revelers on St. Patty’s day downtown. We are the laymen drinking Dortmunder on the patio of Great Lakes Brewing Company. We are the Westpark businesses trying to save St. Pat’s. We are the former frat boys and wishing-we-were-still Alpha Xi’s partying on West 6th. We are the speed demons getting pulled over in Linndale. We are the ones with tattoos of grilled-cheese sandwiches simply to get a 25% discount at our favorite restaurant. We are the mosh pitters at the Agora. We are the chicken and waffles at Southside in Tremont. We are the paths of the Metroparks. We are the exhibits at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. We are the opening acts at PlayHouse. We are the guitars at the Rock Hall.

We are Cleveland.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you leave LeBron, we’ll move on. We’re used to disappointment – that’s part of our DNA in Cleveland. We haven’t had a winning football team (and at one point even a team at all) for more than 40 years. We haven’t had a World Series title since ’48. And we’re currently being hit hard by one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history. But we’ve been loyal. We’ve been patient. We’ve been resilient, adapting to the ebb and flow like a fisherman on the lake. Those of us who were born Clevelanders and those of us who became Clevelanders via new employment or simply the fortuitous winds of Fate.

We are Cleveland.

We may not have a flag or a tattered banner waving romantically in the smoke-filled skies above a burning battlefield, but we are in a war that is currently raging around the central figure of LeBron James. A war that is not for land. Not for power. Not for love. But for our souls. No matter what happens, no matter who plays professional sports for us, no matter how many corrupt politicians infect our bureaucratic structure, no matter how many times our river catches fire, and no matter how many bullshit magazine articles tell us we’re the most miserable fucking city in the country:

We. Are. Cleveland.

And you best remember it.

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3 Responses to “we are cleveland”

  1. janelle Says:

    awesome post, j. hizzle.

    i think much of this lebron debacle has focused on what a loss/what little will remain should “the king” decide to leave cleveland. i can’t identify with most of your post, as i’ve only been to cleveland once, but it’s always good to see someone stand up for his hometown.

    great, writing, too!

  2. Mr. Drunner Says:

    Spot on, good man! Very good to hear someone stand up for my city! And for once, I enjoyed reading an article about Lebron!

  3. Jane Says:

    It’s nice to see that someone else loves this city as much as I do. I really enjoyed reading this post. I love Cleveland and despite everything it is home. It’s nice to know there are others out there.

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