What if John Elway’s pass to Mark Jackson was tipped or, better yet, intercepted?
What if Ernst Byner had held strong against Jeremiah Castille’s strip, not coughing up the ball, and made his way into the end zone?
What if Craig Ehlo blocked Jordan’s shot?
Or if Art Modell had a conscience?
What if Lebron never gathered together those scrawny looking kids and Jim Gray and made the announcement that he, like a few have done before him, was going to rip the heart out of every Cleveland sports fan’s chest?
What if there was a world where The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The Move, and The Decision didn’t exist?
Unfortunately, time travel has yet to be invented. And the city of Cleveland still carries those open wounds. And today I learned that Lebron, too, carried some of those wounds.
"My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now." - LeBron James to SI’s Lee Jenkins
I’ve hated LeBron James for the past four years. I hated him for his greed, his tackiness, his bloated sense of entitlement.
I hated him for what he did to my favorite city in the world. A city that deserves better. That deserves the feeling of winning a championship; something that has alluded Cleveland, in any sport, for over 50 years.
He nicknamed himself the King, but he broke character. What so-called King deserts his kingdom? His people? And goes, of all places, to the land of Vanilla Ice and Girls Gone Wild?
As a city, we watched in horror as our collective husband said good-bye and hoped into a convertible with a much younger, much prettier girl. We had to endure pictures of them together on the beach, at nice restaurants, and, inevitably, the Finals. The places you promised to take us.
He had found himself a trophy wife.
Cleveland carried on. That’s what that city does best.
We also got drunk at parties and did/said some crazy shit; burning his jerseys, guarantee we were gonna win more championships, draft Earl Bennett. We lost our minds. We were hurt. We felt old and unwanted. But we showed up and played every game. And lost most of them.
But deep down we knew Lebron would come back. They always do. Tail between their legs, wanting to right what they had wronged. And we always say yes. We kept Byner around for a few more seasons than we should have. We waited four years for our beloved Browns to come back, a shell of what they once were. We kept the light on and never changed the locks.
Are things the same as they were before? No. Are we still angry and spiteful? No, but we’re haven’t exactly fallen back in love again either. It will take time.
I, for one, am willing to forgive and forget. I honestly believe LeBron loves his hometown as much as I do. And that we’ve all grown these past four years. I have. Lebron has. Even Dan Gilbert seems to have a better head on his shoulders.
We can’t change the past. All we have is the present and the choices we make in that particular moment. LeBron broke our heart with The Decision. But maybe, just maybe, he can make everything right, and possibly better, with this new chapter in Cleveland sports history - The Letter.