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Pulp Defection – An Open Letter to Fans

07/09/2010

There’s a scene in Pulp Fiction where a collegiate guy hides behind a door as he hears his friends get shot in the next room.  The key-frame shows the kid quaking in his flip-flops, with .357 Magnum in hand, just waiting for the right moment to burst through the door and unload his resolve and revolver on the the villains in the scene.

The villain in this scene is Lebron James.  And the kid unloading is Dan Gilbert.  In an open letter to fans, Cavaliers majority owner spews pure visceral vitriol on the “The self-declared former ‘King'” telling the Cleveland fans “you simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.”

Truth is, Gilbert has been waiting, gun loaded and finger on the trigger for weeks now.  Since James’ post-season press conference where he proclaimed “It’s all about winning and the Cavs is committed to doing that” and since he professed he was all about loyalty, his inevitable betrayal has been laid out like a connect-the-dot plot with foreshadowing befitting of a horror flick.  You could almost hear the Cavalier faithful fretting “Don’t go down there.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s front page has a trailing image of James with one simple word, “gone.”  Upon closer inspection, there’s a call out on his hand that reads “7 seasons in Cleveland, no rings.”  He’s gone alright.  Gone from savior to anti-hero. Callous, but true.

Despite my previous posts (Have they Crowned the King Too Soon? and A No Ring Circus), I believe Lebron’s legacy would be better cemented ring-less in Cleveland, where he grew up, and where he played his first seven seasons (well, 6 and 7/8ths… he quit in the playoffs) than with any sort of accolades he may accumulate in Miami.  Anything he does there will be “because of Wade” and confirmation that “he couldn’t do it himself.”

Cleveland fans have been spurned.  It wasn’t just King James’ exodus but the classless way in which he did it.  L.A. Times’ Bill Plaschke aptly writes “LeBron James is the King, all right. The King of Crass. The King of Callous. The King of Cowardice.”  This divorce definitely isn’t an amicable one. You can’t help but think that there will be a large contingent of Ohioans who will cheer should an anterior cruciate ligament suffer a tear in South Beach.

I used to play basketball at Central Park in La Palma,  the same park where the O’Bannon brothers played.  I would play for hours on end and often lost, but I challenged again in hopes of beating the team that previously prevailed.  Occasionally, I’d see “the winners” cherry pick from the losing team, and of course, I’d lose respect, and gain motive.  I think the other 29 teams will think similarly.  ‘Til now, a trip to South Beach was a vacation.  Now it will be a mission.

Lebron can only hope that the structure of his knee remains strong.  My guess it will crumble under the weight of the expectations he’s now levied on himself.  Even if it doesn’t, he will be dodging bullets for the rest of his career… especially when he returns to Cleveland.

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