In My Ohio

On Lebron James, 2012 NBA Champion

Darren C. Demaree
After the Miami Heat won the NBA Championship last night, roundly embarrassing the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games, I checked the social media universe to see how my fellow Cleveland Cavalier fans were taking the news that their former son, Lebron James, had finally won what he had never been able to as a Cav. After surfing my way through a lot of “Fuck You Forever’s” and “It Should Have Happened In Cleveland’s!” I started to write my own begrudgingly respectful status update, and then I balked at the process of being a lone well-wisher in a sea of almost justifiable venom.

I got drunk for the announcement of his heading to South Beach. I was nervous he was going to leave. I was nervous he would leave Ohio, become a global icon, and lose that one part of himself that made him like me. He was from Ohio. I was from Ohio, and even though I only ever knew marginal success as an athlete in a small, rural town, hours from where he had grown up, I felt like his successes somehow belonged to me as well. He was even a kid from Ohio, playing for the only professional basketball team in Ohio, and though the management there resembled the minor league hockey team brain trust that shared the same building, he was able to put our team into the arena of possible championships. Though looking back, we never got closer than being in the same room with champions, it still felt possible that some day we would wear gaudy twenty-five dollar t-shirts, that in their faux-sparkles would declare an Ohio team World Champions.

However, he picked the other suitor. The one that offered everything we weren’t. More talent, more glamour, and ultimately more of a chance to turn his legacy into one equal to a select few.

Even I, while opening another beer, could offer only exclamations of betrayal and confusion about what had just happened. We, genuinely, emotionally felt like we had been wronged by someone who was one of us. It felt like abandonment. It felt like a one-sided break up that ends with the left soul sobbing through one final attempt of “But I still love you”.

This is the most apt comparison I’ve heard made in reference to Cavs fans post-Lebron, that we were behaving like jilted lovers towards someone who had moved on to find a marriage that would better suit their future. Somehow we had never been pretty enough, and even though we knew weren’t a model, we really thought we were good enough for him to commit to.

Last night, amidst the anger, the truly bitter vitriol that for some Cleveland fans will never disappear, I began to feel happy for him. I began to feel happy that he had gotten what he had always wanted so badly. If the Miami Heat had been the girl he chose to dance with, to be married to (for at least a little while), then we were justifiably upset that it hadn’t been us.

A championship, though, was the same thing as when you see a woman you once loved have her first child with a man other than you. You had been in love, you had wanted it to work out forever, but it just didn’t. You know, however, how much she had always wanted to become a mom, and now she was getting exactly what she had dreamed about her whole life. Then, your emotions, your sincere desire for them moves past what didn’t happen for you, and much closer to a peace and contentment for the way things worked out.

As Lebron cradled not only the NBA Championship trophy last night, but also the Finals MVP, I was smiling. Before I turned off the television, long after having given up on the computer, I audibly said to the empty, dark room, “Good for you, Lebron. Good for you.”

In the end, for me, I look at it like this, a kid from Ohio just won the NBA Championship. A kid from Ohio just won the Final’s MVP. That, my fellow Ohioans, doesn’t get to happen too often for us.