LeBron James: Cleveland Codependence

My grandmother got a new copy of the same book every year. It had some slight updates but was never radical in its approach. It was big, and leather bound and had a shiny imprint lettering on the cover. It was the Physicians Desk Reference. The handy guide to medicine and ailments and every year my grandmother got herself a new copy to go through and highlight and obsess and attempt to treat because well, she was a nurse. During World War II my grandmother was a nurse, she was married right after the war and started a family and was never a nurse again. But the big new copy of the PDR made her a nurse again and any ailment told to her would be a quick page flip away from complete diagnosis.

When I was older I used to have a fantasy that we would play a trick on her and slip in a copy of the DSM4, the psychiatric guide to diagnosis. That would really blow her mind. She could ask “Andy, what’s wrong?” And I could say “Well, I’m a little fatigued and feeling a little hot but mostly I think I’m suffering from a summer co-dependence. I always forget, do you starve a co-dependence or feed a co-dependence?”

Co-dependence is one of those things that we all feel like we have a feeling for. We can spot the codependents in our circle of friends or our family, we can tell there’s just something off with that one friend of ours who will just never go out without her boyfriend, and surprise, the boyfriend never wants to go out!

One of the greatest examples of co-dependence we see almost daily is on reality television. The best example of co-dependence is the show Hoarders. You know Hoarders even if you’ve been living under a rock under a dumpster that it’s a cave that’s hidden in the treacherous terrain of whatever enemy land occupies your worst nightmare.

So at some point on each episode of Hoarders the therapist comes in and talks with our Hoarder.

Therapist – Now Terry, why don’t you tell me about what made you start….collecting.

Terry  – Well, Doc, one day I lost my keys to my truck and then I decided I’m not gonna lose nothing anymore.

Therapist – But Terry, haven’t you lost…everything?

When the 2014 free agency summer session started, all eyes were on LeBron James. He had completed his contract with the Miami Heat and although it was enticing to keep the band together for one more try in Miami, eventually King James moved back home and became a Cleveland Cavalier again.

The betrayal that Cleveland fans felt when he left to join Miami drove the image of LeBron from hometown hero to heel. People burned his jersey, when the Cavs drafted Kyrie Irving, he was immediately crowned the savior. He wasn’t from Ohio, he had no ties to the team or the place, but he had to replace him. Capital H him.

He wasn’t allowed to entertain the notion of leaving lest the entire city drag him back to Quicken Loans center.

The relationship between LeBron and Cleveland is enough to fill Sigmund Freud’s grave. LeBron doesn’t get to leave the state of Ohio and at the age of 18, he is put onto the savior pedestal. The chosen one who just months before had to ask to use the bathroom now has the save all of the sorry franchises that ever existed in Cleveland.

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It’s hard to watch a fanbase suffer for so long, but it’s just as hard to watch a friend or a family member be stuck in a codependent relationship. You ache for them to take a step back and assess the situation, you want them to go talk to a therapist, or a priest or a psychic and get a new perspective, you want them to gain some kind of epiphany to see that their situation is toxic.

But love and fandom do not reside in the rational corners of your brain. You want to sit the entire city of Cleveland down and say

Therapist – Now Cleveland, why don’t you tell me about what made you start….hurting.

Terry – Well I think it all started because the industries left this town and all we had were our teams and then they just…kept….hurting us.

Therapist – But Cleveland, aren’t you hurting…yourself?

Cleveland wasn’t the only city in the Midwest who had a superstar come back into the fold. Derrick Rose played the most he’s played since 2011 this past season and at times he looked great, at times he looked bad, but the future of the Chicago Bulls is still caught up in the expensive dollars dedicated to Rose, while at risk of losing rising star Jimmy Butler in free agency. There are also glaring holes that could be replaced if Rose’s salary were to disappear.

And yet Chicago fans cannot seem to let go the idea that Rose can return to his MVP form. And the team could squander Butler away from the team, waste away the final years of Pau Gasol, the ascending years of Aaaron Brooks and Tony Snell.

Okay scratch that, but if the money wasn’t tied up in Rose, if fans could let go of the codependent hope that Rose someone recovers from his, at last count, hundreds of injuries and leave the hope behind.

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