The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

You know what I like most about basketball?

Nothing. But as a close second I’d pick Dan Wetzel’s juvenile LeBron James article. And since I’ve spent the last four solid days making fun of nothing, I suppose I should move on.

LeBron’s failure warms Cleveland’s heart

You stay classy, Dan.

Late Sunday night, a crowd of Clevelanders gathered here to watch their onetime hero turned all-time traitor, and with each disinterested LeBron offensive possession, each failed LeBron chase down of Jason Terry, each embarrassing LeBron crunch-time turnover, the prevailing emotion was simple.


Disinterested! Embarrassing! Traitor! These are all technical basketball terms that mean "A-Rod."

They weren’t hating LeBron here. They were laughing at him.

But why were they laughing at him? Was it because he was wearing a red foam-rubber nose and spraying Dirk Nowitzki in the face with seltzer during free-throw attempts? Or perhaps because, like Ron Artest, he’s doing a stand-up comedy tour?

Oh, wait, no. They were laughing at him because they hate him, huh. They hate him because he left their pissant little town and moved to Miami, where he was such a gutless choker that he only managed to get his team to the Finals, where they only won two games. And how good was LeBron James? Please. He only barely led the entire NBA in win shares. And in playoff win shares. But he came up small when it counted, climaxing in a dramatic game six in which he was only the second-best player on his own team. Seriously, did Dwayne Wade even show up for that game? Where are the "Wade is a giant choker" articles?

(Meanwhile, the LeBron-less Cavs were a conference-worst 19-63. Good riddance, L-Rod!)

LeBron started it, of course, laughing at Cleveland nearly a year ago when he took himself to a Boys and Girls Club in Connecticut of all places to announce on national television that he was taking his talents to South Beach.

That was pretty weird, I agree. What I don’t think it was: a deliberate, calculated fuck-you to Cleveland.

That South Beach has about a million nightclubs and technically no basketball arena said it all.

Personally, I’d say that the Cavs going 19-63 and the Heat making the Finals says more.

All over Flannery’s and places like it across Ohio, they cracked oft-told jokes. ("I asked LeBron for a dollar, he gave me 75 cents back. He doesn’t have a fourth quarter.")

I asked A-Rod for a dollar. He grounded into a double play instead. Suck it, A-Rod! Ya burnt!

"They showed pictures on their cell phones mocking LeBron for a quitter."

"For" a quitter? Shouldn’t a professional writer not write like he’s ten years old? Wait, no, better question: shouldn’t you have an editor?

Bartenders rang bells and shouted things like, "Last call for LeBron."

I’m pretty sure that, just like A-Rod, he’ll get tossed out of the league for not quite winning a championship single-handedly in a team sport in a year in which he led the league in, like, everything.

They mostly reveled in the beauty of a night right out of their wildest dreams, LeBron coming up small on the biggest of stages, standing around as lesser talents on the Dallas Mavericks blocked his shortcut to a NBA title, winning the game 105-95, the series 4-2.

Yeah, fuck you, LeBron. Choker. You think you’re such a big shit? That new team of yours is good? Well, here’s a hard dose of reality for you: your supposedly "great" team only won two games in the Finals. Meanwhile, the gritty, gutsy, hard-playing no-nonsense types you left behind for your team that never got any closer than 78.3% likely to win the championship won nineteen games! And did they choke in the playoffs? No they did not. So really, fuck you, LeBron. Or, as my new friends the Ugandans would say: hasa diga LeBron!

This was the girlfriend that dumped you getting dumped herself – only live in HD while an entire city toasted her comeuppance.

No hatred here.

"He can’t blame the supporting cast," Cavs fan Keith Clapacs said. "He can’t blame Mike Brown. There’s no excuses. Ball’s in your hand and you didn’t do it. It’s your elimination game, and Jason Kidd is diving on the floor for loose balls? You’re losing the hustle plays, committing turnovers?"

Dwayne Wade committed almost as many turnovers in game six as LeBron — five to six — while posting miserable field goal (.375) and three-point (.000!) rates, and one more personal foul (3 to 2). Offensively, LeBron was way, way more valuable than Wade. Can he blame Wade, then?

"It’s the whole too-cool-to-care thing. He was too cool to care."

Caring about the Finals is uncool, so LeBron didn’t bother. That’s the theory here. Clearly it’s not uncool to care about the regular-season, where LeBron led the entire NBA in win shares and win shares/48 minutes. Or the playoffs, either, which he led in win shares regardless of his kind of smelly Finals. No, the only thing that’s uncool is caring about game six of the Finals — and since we established through logic and science that all LeBron cares about is going out to clubs, that coolness matters to him. Finally winning a championship would seem positively gauche.

From Miami, LeBron would later send his message to them, to the folks enjoying his failure.

"At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail – at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today," James said. "They have the same personal problems they had today …

"They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."

Kind of weirdly melodramatic, but the dude’s taking a lot of thoughtless flak from assholes like Dan Wetzel lately.

A sentiment to which Ryan Smith, an insulation installer from Mentor, Ohio, with a Jameson on the rocks in front of him, offered this simple response:

"[Expletive] LeBron James."

Does Ryan Smith from Mentor, Ohio choke in pressure situations? Fuck no. Once, while installing some insulation, Larry dropped the caulking gun. And did Ryan choke? No sir — he manned up, picked up that caulking gun, and closed the book on that fibreglass sheet. Like a boss.

Also, Dan, since you clearly know you can’t swear in print, maybe try finding quotes for your article that include stuff other than swear words. When you redact the whole thing like that you kind of look like a boob.

Perhaps there’s no greater example of the life of a Cleveland sports fan than watching a series not involving your team so you can root for someone to lose.

I for one have never just rooted for the Fat Louis Fatinals to lose. Nor do I know any Red Sox fans who have ever rooted against the Yankees. Nor any Patriots fans rooting against the Colts. And I certainly don’t know a Chargers fan who hates the Patriots with every fibre of his being. You’re 100% on the money, Dan Wetzel — rooting against a team you hate is a phenomenon exclusive to Cleveland.

No city has lost like this one, not a single major professional sports championship since 1964, when the Browns won a pre-Super Bowl NFL title.

My city doesn’t even have a team. So, while we certainly haven’t been losing, we ain’t exactly won neither. And I can’t go to any games, even if it is just to bitch and whine that my team only makes the ALCS every five years or so.

You want collapses? The 1997 World Series is as bad as anything the Cubs or Red Sox ever dealt with. It’s just this city doesn’t have the media poets to chronicle it like Chicago or Boston.

Bullshit. Bull fucking shit, Dan Wetzel. The Indians didn’t "collapse" in the 1997 World Series — they won games 2, 4, and 6. That’s what we call "going back and forth." Or do you mean game seven? Not much of a collapse either — they lost 3-2 in extras on a two-out, bases-loaded Edgar Renteria single. Do you know what "collapse" means? Because, really, that ain’t it.

A collapse is what happened to the 2003 Cubs, who were up 3-1 in the NLCS before pissing it away. And in the pivotal game six, brought a 3-1 lead into the eighth, got five outs from the World Series, and then allowed the Marlins (coincidentally) to spin a costly error on a routine double play ball and fan interference on a shallow fly into a seven-run inning.

Or how about the Red Sox that same year? When they also pulled up to five outs from the pennant before Grady Little reckoned it was smart to put a wiped-out Pedro Martinez back on the mound in the eighth to rack up 123 pitches, and he gave up three runs? And then Aaron Boone — he of the 9.5 career WAR — chunked a Tim Wakefield knuckler (the first pitch of the half) into the stands to complete the kill?

Or what about the Yankees in 2004? Now that was a collapse.

And then there was this, LeBron James, the local kid from Akron, the one who claimed he understood your heartache, the one you defended for years, the one that was finally going to deliver sporting glory. He bails for some fair-weather sports town and an arena full of white-covered chairs with pretty people who can’t even be bothered to watch the game while it’s going on.

Did I mention that the Cavs won nineteen games this year? Perhaps LeBron bailed because he was sick of wasting his prime years on a franchise that wouldn’t or couldn’t get any other good players.

Yet LeBron’s take, the same one that too often has been bandied about nationally, doesn’t begin to understand the emotions in Cleveland.


It’s too trite and small to view Cleveland as some bottomed-out, post-industrial postcard to the past.

That’s true. It’s better to view Cleveland as yet another mid-sized city being devoured by its own government.

These aren’t all people trapped in awful times or terrible circumstances or living small lives in jealousy of LeBron’s big one.

Not all of them, no. Just all the ones Dan Wetzel wants to talk about.

There’s money here. There is success in Cleveland. There is contentment. As sure as there are poor in Miami, as sure as the VIP area of the Mansion Nightclub isn’t the full reality of South Florida, neither is some boarded-up East Cleveland warehouse the story here.

There are doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs and financial planners and artists and teachers and dreamers and, yes, insulation installers. ("In the column can you mention the company, Pure Seal Inc.?")

There are happy families and neighborhoods and the American Dream in full view. There are plenty of people who don’t have any personal problems who are quite content to keep their talents in Cleveland, a place they love just the way it is.

What the hell is this? You aren’t writing the Great American Sports Column, Dan Wetzel. Get back to whinging about how much LeBron James offended your head.

The Cavs drew people together, city and suburb, white and black, rich and poor. They also connected family and friends. They gave reason to send a text message to someone you had drifted away from. They provided a reason to share an experience with your parents or your children or both. They offered an excuse to catch a game with a high school buddy.

Also they gave LeBron James like literally no supporting cast at all. Maybe if the Cavs were more serious about building a good franchise rather than just milking their local superstar for all he’s worth, he’d have been more keen to stay.

LeBron James had the right to leave. And Cleveland has the right to laugh.

Didn’t you just get through maudlining a long-winded rant at me about how Clevelanders aren’t all the same and don’t all fit into the hackneyed stereotypes lazy journalists like to write? And then this. Well, you have the right to be a hack and a hypocrite. And I have the right to make fun of you for it.

June 13th, 2011 Posted by | Games | no comments

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