Dear Cleveland: It Is Time to Stop Whining About LeBron James

OK, now, Cleveland.


. I am, mostly, usually, on your side. I come from Baltimore, another once-solid and once-major American city hollowed out by the collapse of the industrial economy and of the accompanying social contract. You’re colder; we’re more violent. But the hard times aren’t too different.

I identify with you so much, in fact, that I

took your side

when a greedy scumbag NFL owner stole your team. Even—not “even,”


—knowing that stealing the Browns was the only way Baltimore would get a team back. Art Modell and the Art Modell Organization can go straight to hell and join Bob Irsay there. I am

on the record


So it is with the utmost sympathy and respect that I ask you to stop complaining about LeBron James. Two days ago, a Kickstarter bid

cleared its $10,000 funding goal

for making

a feature-length documentary chronicling NBA superstar LeBron James’ first season with the Miami Heat, through the eyes of the fans he left behind.

LOSING LEBRON will go deep into the homes and workplaces of Cleveland residents to find out how they have been affected by this move, why basketball is so important to them, and watch as they adjust to a season without LeBron. Think Hoop Dreams meets Roger & Me. Fans and foes alike will document themselves through user-generated content as we experience this unique chapter in sports history. We will provide selected participants with HD Flip Cams so they can interview themselves, their family, and their friends, and become a part of the film’s production.

Interview themselves, their family, and their friends.

Look, I’ve enjoyed the LeBron-bashing as much as the next non-Clevelander has. That


of his

dishonest and manipulative Nike commercial

was fabulous (“What should I do?” “You should throw it in our faces on national television!”). It was funny that Esquire’s vengeance-blogger Scott Raab provoked the Miami Heat into

banning him

(did I mention the Ravens blackballed me after the Super Bowl?).

But you need to taper off. Now. You don’t get to multiply the Two Minutes’ Hate by Fifteen Minutes of Fame and hang around for half an hour yelling at everyone about how mad and sad (but tough, dammit, oh, so tough) you are. ”

Spirit of a champion. Indomitable

,” Raab wrote on Twitter, after squeezing out a character-limited sampling of Cleveland’s troubles. Really,

Stuart Smalley

? Most people do that stuff in private, if they have to do it at all.

And but first of all, no, you don’t have the spirit of a champion. The spirit of a champion belongs to the people who

win championships

. And that leads to the second point, which is, really, in fact, in many cases, having the spirit of a champion means being an asshole. Michael Jordan is our living embodiment of the

Spirit of a Champion

—cruel, narrow-minded, psychopathically competitive, devoid of empathy and with the empty empathy-space filled in with meanness and greed.

And that reminds me: come to think of it, I didn’t want to see the LeBron Cavaliers win any more than I want to see the Miami Heat win. Those Cavs were not gutsy underdogs. They were charmless bullies. Bernie Kosar and his screwy throwing motion leading the charge against smug, toothy golden boy John Elway—that was something America could get behind. Those fantastically talented Indians teams of the mid-90s weren’t underdogs, but they were a model for what a well-built baseball team should look like. It was ridiculous that they lost to a rent-a-title grab bag of mercenaries in Marlins uniforms.

There was nothing edifying or uplifting about the prospect of LeBron being the one to bring a sports title to Cleveland. Widows and orphans and hard-luck cases bedded down in train yards across America were not clinging to their old beat-up radios, praying that the light gleaming off a Cavaliers championship trophy would brighten their own sad lives. You got lucky in the draft and landed a pampered, incredibly skilled, ready-made superstar—a prodigy who never even suffered Michael Jordan-on-the-high-school-junior-varsity-grade basketball adversity. The marketing apparatus of Nike and the NBA lined up behind you. The script said Cleveland was supposed to win something.

Where was your finely tuned sense of moral outrage when your hero walked up to Gilbert Arenas—a self-made success, on a Washington Wizards franchise whose hard luck makes the Cavs look like the Dallas Cowboys—and

laid a hand on him while taunting him

at the free-throw line? If Ron Harper had ever done a thing like that, it would have been a technical foul. The refs let it go, because LeBron doesn’t play by

regular folks’ rules

. Sorry, Wizards.

And even with that kind of help, the script didn’t work out like it was supposed to. Tough. The entitled jerk athlete you rooted for went and acted like an entitled jerk. Shocking. You want to renounce LeBron and everything he stands for? Then stop acting like LeBron is the center of the universe.