God’s in his Heaven, all’s right with the world.
That’s correct: LeBron James is back in Cleveland. And now that peace has been secured in the Middle East, we can all sleep better.
What’s that you say? Peace has not been secured in the Middle East? But … but … LeBron James is back with the Cavaliers, where he started his NBA career 11 years ago. Surely, not only Middle East peace but also the fate of mankind itself rested on his decision.
That’s the idea I got from seeing the reaction to James’ fleeing Miami’s Heat for Lake Erie’s balmy shores. Indeed, one ESPN talking head called Friday, the day James announced his decision, “a great day in Ohio history.” OK … maybe not quite as great as the day the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969. But right up there. And surely at the cost of fewer fish.
At least coverage of LeBron’s return finally gave us a break from wall-to-wall cable fever over the World Cup soccer matches, which were significantly less important, being capable only of ending world hunger. Now that Germany emerged victorious, it’s a schnitzel in every pot, sports fans!
Naturally, social media was abuzz when news of James’ decision broke. But then social media is often more abuzz than a beekeepers convention, usually over such life-altering topics as the overwhelming succulence of Wendy’s Asiago Chicken Ranch Club (3,337 likes on Facebook). In comparison, LeBron’s Facebook announcement of his decision racked up just shy of 500,000 likes by Sunday. He’d have had half a million more if only he accompanied the post with a picture of a scowling cat.
This ecstasy over LeBron’s homecoming strikes me as overblown, especially in light of the reaction Clevelanders had when “King James” left “home” after the 2010 season. Back then, legions of Cavs fans burned replica James jerseys, then padlocked themselves in their lockers for several weeks, their lower lips turned down like Jackie Cooper in “The Kid.” Short memories, these denizens of the Land of Cleves.
Not that Cavs fans are alone. Jumping into the race to appear even more lacking in class than their northern counterparts, Heat fans started slowly by burning James jerseys. But they kicked hard in the stretch and won handily when someone spray-painted the word “Queen” across LeBron’s face on a mural depicting the 2012 Miami championship team. Say what you will about vapid sports fans, but the world needs more such biting social commentary.
I’m still waiting for someone to explain why sporting events that mean a great deal to the wide world of sports hold equal significance in the far wider world of real life. Sure, sports provide much-needed, sometimes comic, relief from the soul-crushing reality of daily life. But, honestly, did the Steelers failure to win a seventh Super Bowl in 2010 lead to a global economic recession? If a NASCAR driver crashes into a wall and no one is watching, does he still make a sound?
Does LeBron’s rebound to Cleveland rate such ubiquitous coverage and elevation to historical status? Only if you believe it to be of greater significance than what Neil Armstrong (another Ohio native) did by taking “one small step for a man” onto the moon in 1969.
And if you do, maybe Armstrong should have taken a basketball with him.