An Open Letter to Cleveland: Time to Move On
Our long regional nightmare is over. There are no jerseys left to burn, no jokes left to tweet, and the bar is out of beer. The Miami Heat are the 2012 NBA Champions. This is a fact. That means two things: Akron native LeBron James has earned a championship ring, and Cleveland State Viking alum Norris Cole has an NBA championship ring. Which will you focus on?
When James defected in 2010 the entire city rose up in one voice of indignation and disbelief. The nation by and large stood with us, railing against the “King” and wishing for his demise. We wept with joy when the Dallas Mavericks won the title last year but the Oklahoma City Thunder could not do us the same favor this time. Yet in some ways we are liberated: we don’t have to hate as much anymore. Hate is a painful, time consuming activity. We can do and be so much more now. We don’t have to root for James, and likely thousands of us will never forgive him. But we need to move on. No more “Cavs for Mavs.” No more “OKCle.” It’s over.
We can’t keep clinging to the past. We are drunk on our sorrows, telling and retelling stories in a masochistic whirlpool of despair. People tell each other where they were when LeBron made his decision, when Elway stepped under center, when Jordan lifted a jump shot in Richfield. We measure fanhood not by money spent but by tears shed. The “real” fans are those who have apparently suffered the most. It doesn’t have to be this way.
In many ways we are blessed. Yeah I said it. In 1965 the Indians almost relocated to Seattle. The Cavs endured one of the most inept owners of all time in Ted Steipen but made it through. We lost the Browns for three years but they came back. Teams don’t come back, just ask Seattle about the Sonics or Los Angeles about the Rams. We have been lucky in so many ways and I am grateful. I’m not ignorant of our struggles or our suffering, but that should not define us. We are so much more than a forty man roster or a starting five.
As I write this, I’m wearing my wine Anderson Varejão jersey. Not a #23 Cavaliers jersey with the name scratched out. Not a Tim Couch t-shirt marked by disappointment. It’s time to look to the future. Now we can finally move on. We have the reigning Rookie of the Year in Kyrie Irving and two picks in this month’s draft. There is a future here and I am excited to see it.
You don’t have to like what I’m saying, and many of you probably don’t. That’s okay because either way the Indians are in first place. Don’t worry about LeBron; go out and see the boys of summer. Go Tribe.