Despite the fact that I couldn't care less about the NBA, I watched the Lebron James special last night on ESPN with morbid curiosity.
I have no ties to Cleveland or the Cavaliers franchise. In fact, I really love the city of Miami, so in a way I guess I should be glad that the best player in the league went there to play.
But I was really hoping against hope that James would shock everyone by saying that he couldn't walk away from the people who helped make him what he is and the people who stood behind him since he was a teenager and that he was staying put in Cleveland. And I couldn't help but feel sick thinking about the way James turned his back on Cleveland. I know that James doesn't really owe those people anything. And if I didn't, he pointed out how he "took that franchise to heights it had never been to before" repeatedly during the ESPN broadcast.
Still, it was heartbreaking when they cut to a scene of people in a Cleveland bar who looked like they were punched in the gut by Mike Tyson when the announcement was made. And it was worse when James arrogantly responded that he couldn't see why the people of Ohio just couldn't be happy for him and think of all he did for them.
Watching that whole scene made me think about watching Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan raise the Stanley Cup for Blues rivals Detroit and Dallas. But it also made me think more than I wanted to about how I would feel if Albert Pujols arranges a similar made for TV event 16 months from now and announces that he's turning his back on the St. Louis fans and going to play for the Mets.
It was obviously within his rights for James to pack up and take his game where ever he wanted. But it's a shame that there is no such thing as loyalty or heart left in professional sports. They players have become just as ruthless as the owners in serving their own interest at the expense of the sport -- and the people who pay the bills.
I guess it's all about the bling. But if I was in his sizable sneakers, I have to believe that it just wouldn't feel the same to win a championship ring as a part of some unholy alliance as it would have been for James to do it on his own -- in his hometown -- for the team that he built.