Home court advantage
Kevin Chill Heard | 7/16/2014, 9:23 a.m.
By Kevin Chill Heard
Four years ago what the world came to know as “The Decision,” was seen in Cleveland as a quantum shift in the soul of the city. Lebron James hadn’t just “taken his talents to South Beach,” he took millions of dollars of local economy with him. He took the innocent eyes of Northeast Ohio youth who looked at a model of local success achieving right here, right now. And yes, he took his talents away from a city in a panic of pursuing a championship of any kind, where he was its best hope.
The hard working, middle class fans of Cleveland had been spurned for the sexy sands of South Beach. As it all went down on a much heralded and highly-publicized stage, we could do nothing but look on from afar with a side-eyed saltiness as the dude we raised from AAU to NBA went to four straight NBA championship games. And on top of it he scored back-to-back titles with the Miami Heat, popping endless bottles of bubbly along the way.
We watched as he rose from a fancy disco lightshow pedestal with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, promising “not one, not two,” but what seemed to be a zillion championships for his new team. He even changed his number for God’s sake! Yeah, he was gone like a runaway bride. At best, it was expected that maybe he would one day return to Cleveland as an old man, smiling and shaking hands with folks at car shows and casinos. After all, who wants to leave a place like that for a place like this in the prime of their life? Well …
Just as heartbreaking as the Lebron odyssey began, it suddenly and almost unbelievably, against the odds turned heart-warming in our favor.
In an incredible letter appearing Friday afternoon on www.SI.com announced that the greatest basketball player on the planet, the fella whose jersey we burned in the street, the guy that caused us to root for teams opposing the Heat like “we” were gonna get a ring with whoever beat Miami, the young man that left us high and dry after we gave birth to him, was coming back. And the reason given for this earth-shaking turn of events was – “this is home.”
Suddenly we found our old No. 23 jerseys, the wine and gold ones, the white ones, the blue ones and the throwback ones. Whatever season tickets remained unsold up to that point, we snapped up like Jay-Z at the Barclay passes. The Republicans were coming. Johnny Manziel put down his money phone and deflated the plastic swan he was drinking his Ace of Spades on. The Indians started hitting home runs immediately upon hearing the news and Vegas switched the Cavs odds from worst to first. Yep, Cleveland was back in business.
But what kind of business will our Black community be in store for, if any? While at a reunion of one of Cleveland’s most successful Black little league organizations – B-Buzz – I posed that question to several of the men participating in the well-attended event.