Cleveland fans become eye-witnesses to all that they lost
Saturday, December 4, 2010; 12:32 AM
"Ak-ron Hates You!" the fans chanted of his birthplace, 45 minutes down I-77. In a singsong tone, there was also the creative "Sco-ttie Pip-pen!" which was supposed to make LeBron James feel smaller - for playing with other stars, for not wanting to be "The Man" in Cleveland.
Replicas of his old Cavaliers jersey were again torched in effigy. Four fan ejections, one arrest and at least one object thrown toward the Miami Heat bench Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena later, a kid hilariously penned on cardboard, "We're not terribly fond of LeBron."
Kenny Smith, the TNT analyst, likened LeBron's hyperbolic return to the town and people he jilted this past summer to "going to your ex-girlfriend's wedding that quit you."
That's close to the emotional cauldron that bubbles when anger mixes with memories, when forsaken fans want vindication more than victory at NBA games.
Cleveland got neither.
After the profanity, the cacophony of boos at the Q, the utter disgust of LeBron levitating, scoring and winning with ease - after he and his super friends from Miami trounced the role players he left - at least a few faces shown in the crowd had a look of almost longing, a clear understanding of the talent they lost and the hurt it brought up.
It's too soon.
In Lawrence Kasdan's 1990 dark comedy, "I Love You To Death," Kevin Kline plays a lecherous husband whose wife decides to have him killed rather than divorce him. When her plan goes ridiculously awry, Kline's character awakes from a coma to realize that the traumatic pain his numerous infidelities caused actually proved his wife's ultimate love for him, that, yes, she loved him to death - as warped as that sounded.
Cleveland loved LeBron to death or, at least, to extreme derision.
I attended Latrell Sprewell's ugly return to Golden State and Pat Riley's unseemly return to New York; LeBron's venomous night back home followed the same, disturbing theme: the more excitement the star brings, the more anger when he leaves everyone in a lurch.