My thoughts about tonight's game.
Taking a break from constitutional law, I wanted to share my reaction to Lebron James' return to Cleveland tonight as a member of the Miami Heat. Regular readers of this column know that I confuse Lebron with my own children - he is the same age, and like him they have all flown the nest. He also reminds me of my students - graduate students, working like crazy trying to better themselves and succeed in life.
The network just played a clip highlighting "the Fumble, the Drive, the Shot, the Move, and the Exit," and then showed a Cavs fan wearing a tee shirt with the same dreary message about Cleveland sports history. The self-pity was palpable.
That's not how I remember things and not how I feel. I remember Jim Brown running over, around, and through defenders - twirling, dancing, and sometimes simply carrying a load of men into the endzone - the best football player ever. Before that, Paul Brown, the most brilliant and innovative football coach, led the Browns to the championship game ten years in a row, with teams stacked with hall of famers such as Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Dante Lavelli, and Marion Motley. More recently the Cardiac Kids gave us years of enjoyment.
Nor is the Tribe without its legends ... a history of stars that few teams could match. Lou Boudreau and Bob Feller may have been the best ever to play at their positions, and Nap Lajoie and Joe Jackson were perhaps the top players of their day. Even though the Indians were rarely a contender when I was a boy, I still loved them - I not only knew the starting lineup and their backups, I knew all their batting averages and recomputed it for every player after every game.
I remember sad things too. I was at the homecoming game for Rocky Colovito, the opening game of the 1960 season, a few days after he was traded to the Detroit Tigers. My brothers and sisters and I screamed our lungs out for him, just as we cried for Ernie Davis.
I am grateful for the effort of these players. Most of us work in obscurity, but they perform in front of millions of people, succeeding or failing before our eyes. We are entertained, we are excited, we are inspired by their performances, win or lose. We identify with them - like them we want to excel, we want to have courage, we want to to be greathearted.
Lebron played his heart out for us when he was here, and I am sure he will do the same for Miami. We can't ask any more than that from a professional athlete.
Although I wouldn't mind if the Cavs could pull out a victory tonight!
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