What Would Be Left In Cleveland?

July, 8, 2010
7/08/10
5:03
PM ET
By J.A. Adande

Never in our country’s history has one person meant so much to a major town as LeBron James does to Cleveland. It’s almost become counter-productive. Would you want to live in a city that’s totally dependent on one person, even if that person is you? And would a bunch of pleading people plus one sad-faced state of Ohio convince you to stay?

These are sensitive times in Cleveland, where the locals have accused me of hating their town just because I said New York is a better city (it is; but Cleveland gets the nod over Indianapolis) and LeBron might never be welcome again within the city limits again. It’s one thing for outsiders to bash Cleveland, but if one of their own abandons them…

I do think it’s selfish to expect someone to stay in the same region for his entire life. I believe someone can still represent you well by winning somewhere else as a product of Ohio. But I am feeling a little more empathy for Cleveland fans right now after I went to YouTube to look for the “Misery Montage” and saw this version. It’s not the snappiest or most complete (no shots of “The Drive”, most notably), but the buildup and aftermath to each moment and the haunting piano score got to me. I see what’s at stake for Cleveland fans, who couldn’t possibly be expected to cope with another devastating blow.

I know how people from Cleveland love Cleveland, just as people from Detroit love Detroit (although those two cities hate each other). Outsiders just won’t get it. So I asked my Cleveland-based Twitter followers to defend their city and fill in the blank. “If LeBron leaves Cleveland will still have ______”

Lots of people said Josh Cribbs, even more said Drew Carey (didn’t he go to L.A. to work?) and, of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (although one person wrote: “I hear Miami is trying to entice that to leave as well.”)

Here are the best responses.

“The Cavs franchise…not like when the browns left”

“Paved roads?”

“Memories of Jim Brown”

“Murder and hopelessness”

“The Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL, the farm team for the Colorado Avalanche”

“The Free Stamp”

“Old Lebron jerseys on sale for a reasonable price at WalMart.”

“JJ Hickson, Anderson Varajao, Mo Williams, Antawn (with a full offseason with the team) A.Parker, JMoon, 8th seed in the east lol”

“Stadium Mustard”

“Michael Symon -- the Iron Chef”

“The Terminal Tower -- to jump off.”

“Delonte West and Antawn Jamison..oh and Sebastian Telfair. #Screwed

“We still have at least an ounce of class...which is more then Lebron can claim.”

“Crippling depression?”

“Cleveland still has the best fans in the world!!!!! Lebron or no lebron”

“Not being Newark!”

“Kid Cudi”

“Reasons to drink heavily..as we always have had and will cont. to have should the King betray his kingdom and his kingsmen! cheers!”

“The Barons, oh wait, they folded in '78”

“The most loyal and passionate fans in sports. An owner that is dedicated to winning and willing to spend to do so.”

“A great tourism video!”

“If LeBron leaves, Cleveland still has hope. Cleveland has always been about hope and that will not change.”

“Jason Kipnis, Akron Aeros starting second basemen. Future 20/20 guy for the Indians. Hear that.”

“Dan Gilbert, a great owner who is a winner.”

“The most loyal fan base in the nation.”

And finally, it’s important to keep this in mind:

“If LeBron leaves, Cleveland still has the memories”

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