Peterson LeBron James Is Just Right For Cleveland 2009: Nbas Compelling

Peterson LeBron James is just right for Cleveland

The NBA’s most compelling player accepted its most cherished individual honor Monday.
And he did it in the most poignant and humble manner imaginable. LeBron James returned to his Akron, Ohio, high school to receive the MVP award because “this is a place where all my dreams started.” In addition to a handsome trophy, he was awarded a new car. Which, of course, he donated to charity. After paying respects to his friends and fans, he returned to Cleveland, where he currently is taking the Cavaliers and their fans on the ride of their lives. Did we miss anything Did he autograph $1,000 bills for everyone in the gym during Monday’s announcement Did he guarantee a championship, this year, for the city that hasn’t experienced one in a professional team sport since 1964 There was no mention of any such over-the-top do-goodery in news accounts of Monday’s event. That doesn’t mean you can rule it out. If James surprises you at this point, you haven’t been paying attention. As we speak, he is the rarest of the rare &mdash the surpassing adolescent phenom who exceeds preposterous expectations as a professional. He’s the riveting athlete who also has a pleasing personality. He’s the once-in-10-generations native son who joins the hometown team, making the fondest dreams of millions his top priority. James has gone commercial, but not to the point of annoying ubiquity. He dominates play-of-the-day compilations but always leaves you wanting more. He exudes the impression that basketball is still new, wonderful and fun, thus making it new, wonderful and fun for us as well. We present this not as mere fawning praise for James, for he already has received more of that than he could acknowledge in 12 lifetimes. Rather, this is to spotlight the rare and unique nature of his time and place. For starters, he gets Cleveland. James can recite from memory the heartbreak Cleveland fans have endured in the four decades and change since Jim Brown led the Browns to the NFL title: John Elway’s 98-yard drive against the Browns in Cleveland Michael Jordan’s playoff series-winning jumper over Craig Ehlo Jose Mesa’s blown save in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. He has an accommodating coach in Mike Brown and a reasonably proactive general manager in Danny Ferry. There’s no getting around it &mdash the stars in James’ world are providentially aligned.
Put it this way: James would have trouble happening here because a) we’ve known too many high times (12 championships in the past 37 years), b) we’ve never been bandied about as a national punch line as Cleveland occasionally has, c) Don Nelson wouldn’t have played him as a rookie anyway, and d) Robert Rowell would have vetoed his contract extension. For some of the same reasons, James wouldn’t work quite as well in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Denver or Detroit. But he works brilliantly in Cleveland, where he willingly serves as the caretaker of the city’s civic esteem, and can’t seem to believe he’s being paid to play a game.

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