In My Ohio

On Lebron James, No Matter What

Darren C. Demaree
Buried in the seven levels of media coverage revolving around Lebron James’ free-agency decision, amidst the coverage on the coverage of the rumors and speculation created by faceless entities and overeager twitter goons, is for me, the most important part of the circus; the focal point of the vibrating animals and dollar-scented popcorn is an Ohioan. One of us is in the eye of the hurricane, and even if we are all taking bets on which shoreline will be left brutalized in the wake of this occurrence, shouldn’t we all be celebrating that it is happening at all?

The long-view of Lebron James is this; he is an incredibly vibrant part of Ohio’s contemporary history, and behaves himself accordingly. He still has a house in Ohio. He pays Ohio taxes on it. He supports Ohio businesses. He donates money to Ohio’s needs. He is a star and a sports icon, and that’s great for him. It’s also great for Ohio.

I root for the Cavs almost the same way I root for the Indians and the Browns, but more so than any sports allegiance I may hold, I root for Ohio. I’ve written a dozen columns offering my support and advice on how we can take care of each other better, on how we can raise the level of the arts and person-to-person behavior, even on how should be saying more sincere, important things to each other on a regular basis. There is a section of my first book entitled “Ohios”. Hell, I even have an Ohio tattoo on my left shoulder with my favorite verse from sequence. Family first, Ohio second, and rest of the list follows from a great distance.

So, if Lebron James of Akron wants to play basketball in Miami or Los Angeles instead of playing basketball in Cleveland, then it’s amazing that he has such opportunities. Good for him. If he decided to play basketball in Ohio, then Ohio will be that much better for it. Ohio will not be any worse because he decides to work somewhere else. Lebron James is in no danger of forgetting about Ohio. Lebron James loves Ohio, and has shown us that love from the point where he had enough financial room and gravitas to do as much.

No matter what happens, I hope the rest of you remember the long-view of this man’s contribution to our home. It’s his home, too, and I hope you remember that most of all. Lebron James is just a kid from Ohio, and please continue to root for him and protect his interests almost as much as you protect your own. His kind of talent, genuineness, and generosity are all rare qualities for a man of wealth to exhibit. We need more Ohioans to exhibit such control and self-sacrifice. If you’re a Cavs fan, a part of your sacrifice might be rooting for the kid down the street that decided to play for a team down the coast.