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LeBron James’ Hometown Split on His Legacy and Loss to Dallas Mavs

LeBron, left, still conducts his foundation's bike-a-thon every year in Akron.

LeBron James’ decision to move his talents and family to South Florida caused the sky to split open above Northeast Ohio, particularly in Cleveland. But he has at least one sympathizer — mainly me. As a former Akron, Ohio, resident, I understand the desire to breathe new life into your life and career, which is why I took my talents to Atlanta. King James took his “talents to South Beach.” I don’t see a problem there.

But other Akron natives went volcanic when he aired the hideous ESPN special, “The Decision,” and now view James as something akin to a deadly bacteria.

“No rings for the QUITTER. Nobody is above the team. That reality show stunt on ESPN cut my ties with him,” roared former Akronite Darrell Walker on Facebook. He has feasted blissfully on every James miscue and mistake since James’ Cleveland departure. “Dirk wins after 13 years with the SAME team,” said Walker. “Props to that guy for being loyal.”

It is clear that LBJ is at the center of a cultural fault line that causes seismic quakes whenever his name is brought up. Nowhere to better gauge the diversity of fan reactions than to harvest the feelings about LeBron from ground zero – his Akron hometown. We already know the citizens of Cleveland would rather guzzle down battery fluid than to cheer for James. But many folks in nearby Akron — the two cities are 30 miles apart — still have love for the 6-foot-9 athletic marvel who made it to the big time, regardless of the NBA Finals’ results.

“My thing is this,” begins Tonya Tillman, a lifelong Akron resident. “LeBron is a grown man. Period. At the end of the day, it is his decision, his money, his family he has to look out for, not us. He doesn’t owe us anything! Nothing … no matter what he says or what he does, he is still going to have haters and, at the end of the day, he is still going to have more money than all of us. Is it wrong for a person to make decisions based on what’s best for him and his family? People do it every single day.”

Mike Carroll, who types with razor blades, carved up James and his performance after he finished charbroiling him. “Michael Jordan is what, 10 years out the NBA [and] his shoes R still a hot item? Why? Six rings, heart [and] a drive to win — no excuses,” says Carroll, who almost grows porcupine needles out of his skin when the topic of LBJ is broached. “James doesn’t get it. To sell your brand, you need to bring home some hardware.” Well, LeBron is hardware-deficient right now.

Still, Aundrey Sommerville bucked back in defense of James: “I keep telling you, we are not like Cleveland. Our heart doesn’t pump haterade. It was a career decision. We will not expect a young, talented player who, for all purposes, may have been gassed TOO hard by a thirsty city, area and state into thinking his [insert expletive here] can’t ever STINK. But NOW, he’s getting a FULL nose hole of his stuff now, which I hope will make him a better player. I still have a lot of love for him like you love a child that may not have made the decision YOU like, but you know it will grow him. That’s why I support him.”

Royce Lewis and Phil Johnson both grew up down the street from where James attained meteoric national stardom while breaking ankles at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. They were fans of James while he was with Cleveland. Now, the very thought of James makes them want to upchuck their breakfast cereal. “For those that say Akron Heat, please end that FOREVER!” Lewis says with enough venom leaking out of his soul to scare away a cobra.

Lewis said he was deflated like a flat tire during his Vegas vacation last year when King James announced his southern migration. Now, Lewis will return to Vegas on July 4 on a totally different note. He’s so high off the Miami Heat loss that he could literally levitate off the ground. Before they fire up the plane to take him to Sin City, Lewis has one more message for Akron natives who jumped on the LeBron bandwagon as it raced toward South Beach: “We are in Ohio, and they are in Miami. Let’s get off of Florida’s JOCK!!!!!”

Guess that means LeBron will not be invited over for one of Lewis’ barbeques. Instead, Lewis loves to roast LeBron over the pit of public opinion.

terry shropshire



7 Comments

  1. Edith Sanders on June 13, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Mr. LeBron James don’t owe Ohio or anyone else a damn thing. Black people of all people should support his decision on taking his talents to South Beach or any place else he chooses. Why? Because he exercised his Right To Freedom Of Choice. Please, let us not forget folks, we did not always have this right, or any other right for that matter. Stop treating Mr. James as though he’s a run away slave from Ohio who deserve to have his foot chopped off. Maybe, just maybe, if the Cavs owner had gotten LeBron some quality help, instead of working him like a government mule, he would have stayed. Like they say…’YOU DON’T MISS YOUR WATER ‘TIL YOUR WELL RUN DRY’ 
      

  2. Edith Sanders on June 13, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Mr. LeBron James don’t owe Ohio or anyone else a damn thing. Black people of all people should support his decision on taking his talents to South Beach or any place else he chooses. Why? Because he exercised his Right To Freedom Of Choice. Please, let us not forget folks, we did not always have this right, or any other right for that matter. Stop treating Mr. James as though he’s a run away slave from Ohio who deserve to have his foot chopped off. Maybe, just maybe, if the Cavs owner had gotten LeBron some quality help, instead of working him like a government mule, he would have stayed. Like they say…’YOU DON’T MISS YOUR WATER ‘TIL YOUR WELL RUN DRY’ 
      

    • T Tillman on June 14, 2011 at 2:24 am

      You took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you!!!  They need to interview you after they finish interviewing all the people who so openly hate this man for making a decision that was rightfully his decision to make.  Thanks again….that was very well said!!!

  3. N. Monique on June 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    That Lewis guy has it all wrong. No one is “JOCKING” anyone.  I am a cheerleader for Akronites;  Mr. Lewis and Mr Johnson included. I feel honored to see our homies makie it big..
    Ms Tillman said it best. .Thanks Girl..

  4. Guest on June 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    It seems that the writer and commenters are looking at this from a very simplistic standpoint.  Sure, there are those who probably feel that since LeBron is from Ohio and spent most of his career there, he should have stayed indefinitely.  However, I don’t believe that is how most people see it.  In general, people aren’t mad at him for exercising “freedom of choice” or for making a decision to advance his career.  It’s about the way he did it.  HE CHOSE to make his “Decision” a public spectacle and now is facing the consequences of that decision.  Couple that with the fact that, for all his swagger and bravado, he always seems to disappear in the defining moments of important games, and it’s no wonder that people have such strong feelings.  Now that James has “some quality help,” what will be his excuse, and where will he go, if he still fails to secure a ring?  If he could at least live up to his persona (“walk the talk”) when it counts, maybe he would regain some of the respect he lost during his self-promoted “Decision”.  I can understand how giving his fans in Cleveland a heads-up would have detracted from his TV spectacle but, was he really so mistreated, disrespected, and abused in Cleveland that neither his coaches or teammates deserved a heads up as to what his Decision would be before tuning in?  Even they had to find out on TV?

    • Edith Sanders on June 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      I hear you loud and clear and I respect your view ! However, my view on this is not from a simplistic standpoint, it’s from a REALISTIC stand point. How so ? It is real that Mr. James left Ohio. It is real that the majority of the people in Ohio are upset with Mr. James for leaving them with a team that has proven to be nothing without him. It is very real that, from an economical standpoint, the state of Ohio has suffered big time since LeBron jumped ship, ie.; empty hotel rooms, plummeted ticket sells, worst NBA record, etc. Now, what is SIMPLISTIC, in my opinion, is the mentioning of his ‘swagger & bravado,’ disappearing in important games, and whether he secures a ring or not. Funny how none of these concerns were an issue when he was a Cavalier, because they certainly were real then too. As for how he was treated by the coaching staff, owner, & his teammates, we may never know; maybe he had a damn good reason for the way he chose to make his announcement. But what’s Very Realistic is how the people of Ohio loved Mr. James conditionally…as long as he was “theirs” You can’t own people these days. So, to those who are digging LeBron’s grave, remember that the grave you dig, just maybe your own. Instead of digging his grave, I suggest they instead, “Build A Bridge and GET OVER IT”…HE’S IN SOUTH BEACH NOW !  

  5. Anonymous on August 19, 2011 at 12:14 am

    i feel people in cleveland needs to back off the lebron critcs thing. know why? because he did everything he could for this team and rather you like it or not but nobody in cleveland state has ever thank lebron for all he has done and i feel sorry for those lebron haters out there.

    but you can hate all you want but lebron will unleash a demon on those he hated him long enough. so rather lebron was still in cleveland as a cavalier i feel you guys could have win but it broke my heart to hear many fans in cleveland rooting aganst lebron for he was just a player living rich but no matter what happens i always respected james and his family for if i was his son i would have annouced that i am to be drafted by the cavaliers or heat .

    from my view of lebron annoucing he pick miami to be honest i really wanted the king to go to miami but i felt shaq would also be not good enough so i root for lebron to choose miami.

    but understand this is not a game and lebron had his life to deal with becuase time is ticking for all of us like the doomsday. and i understand he he to make this happen for he knew what was waiting for us in december.   and gusse what! start rooting for lebron to win that championship this year or time will tell.