The local media finally had a tag line it could push to a frenzy: "Cavs to Mavs" was the battle cry for all the LeBron haters. As if that would make a difference in the story line that started last summer with "The Decision."
The wound is apparently still raw, if one were to believe the spewing sports talk hosts in that city to the north. Clevelanders must still be avenged, they think, for the unthinkable crime of Cleveland's native son taking his talents to South Beach.
Except he wasn't, isn't, and will never be Cleveland's native son. He's Akron, and he hasn't abandoned his hometown. He just found another place to work. One where he'll recognize the professional rewards that come with his profession.
I'll admit to being one of those who would have liked to see someone else win the NBA title this year, but not because of hating LeBron. I would have enjoyed seeing a medium market team work it's own magic (hint) as a message to the way the NBA does business.
But that said, I also think it'll be great when LeBron visits and has a chance to bring another trophy to show Akron.
The Cleveland LeHaters would like you to believe LBJ never delivered on the championship for the Cavaliers, and that's true. He did, however, do so multiple times when helping bring home state championships to the high school he attended in his hometown. Let's not forget he also shared those MVP trophy days -- twice -- with his friends and family. In Akron.
The whiners would like you to remember the LeBron who stiffs restaurant workers on tips and otherwise displays some of the boorish behavior we often see with other athletes. They would like you to remember the LeBron who would hold up the team jet from away games, the player who demanded (and got) treatment above and beyond from management. Those stories are also true.
What they leave out, however, is a simple fact: LeBron, like so many young people of his age, left northeast Ohio behind to seek greater fame and fortune elsewhere. LeBron is the prototypical child of a region that doesn't seem concerned their sons and daughters take flight unless they throw footballs, hit baseballs or dunk basketballs.
There's no question LeBron's decision to stay with the Cavaliers would have left us with a better season than we got but likely a similar result: still waiting for that trip to the altar.
Does anyone seriously think a repeat of LeBron and Shaq in 2011 would have given us that different an outlook from 2010? LeBron did what champions do: he played the game to win. Dan Gilbert's post-Decision bluster that we'd see a title before LeBron will sound pretty empty by the end of next week.
So fly high, LeBron; play well with your friends and accomplish the goal you set when you realized the road to the title wasn't on I-77 but at the end of I-95. Your critics will cringe when you enjoy the fruits of your labor, but they won't be able to take away that ring. You had the vision it would come, just not here.
Note I didn't say just not here at home. Because Akron's still home, and we've seen LeBron the Champion play out before.