After all the noise about LeBron's move from Cleveland to Miami with his prediction of, "Not one, not two, not three..." he learned how hard it is to win one NBA title, then another.
He took his talents to the Sunshine State and won fifty percent of the finals he played in. In some places a .500 average is impossible. No Major League Baseball player ever hit .500. The closest was Hugh Duffy. You remember Hall Fame Hugh? Played for the National League's Boston Beaneaters in 1894 hitting .440.
LeBron knew the stakes when he arrived in Miami: Win, win big, then win again. Is that asking too much from the world's greatest basketball player?
After the finals loss to the ageless San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat President Pat Riley stepped up and told the fans to get a grip. LeBron was out of town when Riles spoke to the Heat faithful. Some say he was speaking directly to LeBron, but used the old coach trick of pretending to talk to everyone to get his message across.
The message LeBron got was not the message Riley thought he sent. Instead of get a grip and get busy the way Showtime did in LA after losing the finals, the way Magic Johnson, Big Game James Worthy, and Kareem stayed together season after season, LeBron said, "Thank you very much, it's been a nice visit. I'm going home."
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He's not the first Rust Belt native to reject the sun and sand of South Beach, but I can't think of another volunteer.
If you’re hard-hearted enough to figure LeBron's act is a media driven crusade to sell more product for whatever he endorses, you might be right. And you probably haven't seen the Nike commercial about LeBron in Cleveland where citizens stream across an open plaza as if called by the Pope in Vatican City.
Instead of sharing the limelight with Miami and the cast of stars on the Heat, LeBron created a new light in Cleveland. He did it without setting the Cuyahoga River on fire. Cleveland fans felt LeBron's heat. He's their only chance to make a mark in major league sports. The Cleveland Browns look decades away even with Johnny Football. The Cleveland Indians won their last World Series in 1948. If the Washington Redskins change their name, Cleveland might be next up, so they'll have that news to work with.
Fans of Bruce Springsteen recognize the multi-millionaire's recognition of the common man in New Jersey. Jersey guys love their Bruce the way Cleveland loves their LeBron. He's taken a page from The Boss's playbook and championed Ohio's blue collar fan base for Nike and Oregon's billionaire Phil Knight.
Old and young, black and white and every shade in between, respond to LeBron's s call. He's not singing New York, New York like Frank Sinatra's love song to the Big Apple. He's not singing Little Old Lady From Pasadena, the Beach Boys' reminder to senior hotrods.
Paul Simon gave his little town some run with words too many have stuck in their minds about the past.
"In my little town, I never meant nothin'
I was just my father's son
Saving my money, dreaming of glory
Twitching like a finger on the trigger of a gun
Leaving nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town.”
Home for LeBron is Cleveland Ohio and the Cleveland Cavaliers. That's his little town and he celebrates it over anyplace else.
No one would blame him for moving along the professional athlete trail from one team to the next. That's how it works in most cases and no one bats an eye. Wilt Chamberlain left Philadelphia. Broadway Joe Namath left NYC. Say Hey Willie Mays left the Giants. Super Joe Montana left San Francisco. Michael Jordan left Chicago.
LeBron left Cleveland, but he came back. And it's a wonderful move. He may be the new Boss with his actions, but he's dancing to the old Boss's tune.
"I was eight years old and running with a dime in my hand
Into the bus stop to pick up a paper for my old man
I'd sit on his lap in that big old Buick and steer as we drove through town
He'd tousle my hair and say son take a good look around this is your hometown
This is your hometown."
David Gillaspie is an active researcher, skills he honed during twenty years with the Oregon Historical Society. His education wavered between English major/Fiction writer at the University of Oregon where he met Ken Kesey, to a BS in History from Portland State with news writing. Married, with two millennial sons, he connects sports and fitness to the realities of baby boomer life, with no mention ever of skydiving or base-jumping. David covers a wide variety of fascinating topics on his boomer-centric blog, Boomer PDX. Check it out -- you'll be glad you did.