Happy Thursday, Clevelanders. How are things? The Cleveland Indians trashed the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday after blowing a win in the ninth inning on Tuesday, the Cleveland Browns are still in the offseason, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are progressing through NBA Summer League with a few sparse reasons to be excited about the future. I can’t be optimistic quite yet, but while we’re waiting…
I’m still digesting the departure of LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Los Angeles Lakers. Like everything that happens in sports, it’s made me reevaluate my existence in what I hope is a healthy manner. Like, it doesn’t matter that LeBron James is leaving because nothing matters so we may as well have fun with this, right? Let’s call this life philosophy … “cheery nihilism.” It’s how I cope.
Granted, there are plenty of reasons to be sad at losing the single most talented individual in a sport, given that accumulating and maintaining aggregate talent is the entire purpose of sports and repeated failure to do so calls into question the entire enterprise of rooting for and following a team. But who’s keeping score in sports anyway other than everyone?
My point is that there are positive outcomes to losing LeBron James. Some of them are obvious and have been observed by even the most inelegant sports fans among us — love you, Dad! — and some are less obvious, take a vivid imagination to discover, and aren’t real. Here are some reasons to be happy that LeBron James left Cleveland.
- No more drama! Ugh, finally! This has been the most common refrain among people who are trying to convince themselves they’re happy LeBron James left. We call these people “dumb.” But they’re not totally wrong. Who needs all the drama of being “good” and “relevant” all the time? Better off without it, I’ve always said. You know what else was dramatic just like LeBron James? The West Wing. And that show is f’ing great and entertaining. But why have all the anxiety and annoyance of that drama when you could turn off The West Wing, destroy your television, and stare at the blank, unadorned wall where The West Wing and the television were? Sure, it’s boring and miserable. But there’s no drama!
- Guess who suddenly has more time to not watch basketball and catch up on Queer Eye and whatever rubbish your significant other makes you watch from October through June? A lot of men and women in Cleveland!!! No more need for League Pass it’s time to spend time with your loved ones and rediscover why you needed sports as a diversion in the first place!
- Twitter arguments between Cavs fans and Warriors should decrease by like … almost 40 percent.
- The departure of James finally frees up radio time, phone calls with family, spiritual reservoirs, mental bandwidth, and resources spent on this website (such as my precious time), to talk about what many people really wanted to talk about all along: Who should be throwing the football for the worst franchise in town.
- No more need to worry about scheduling vacations in May and June that conflict with the conference or NBA Finals. Now’s the time to schedule that spring trip you’ve been putting off because you couldn’t risk not having proximity to American television or a high-speed internet connection. Take that life-changing to Europe or Southeast Asia that lasts just long enough to forget sports exist and any of this happened, temporarily attain happiness — then come back and keep reading these columns and sharing them with your friends of course.
- You could save $120 or so on League Pass if you live outside Northeast Ohio.
- Even if you live in NEO, you could save dollars on the FoxSports GO! app or whatever the hell they call their mobile/web-accessible version. If you’re a cable or satellite subscriber, you could even consider cutting the cord altogether and just using Netflix and whatever collection of streaming apps you prefer and save money for 1-2 years until that’s just as expensive as the cable you got rid of.
- Maybe the greatest upside to James leaving is that he has a chance to finally convert Kobe Fans to reasonable people, anywhere from 40-to-90 percent. (At least 10 percent will always remain because they’re just too immune to logic.) If you’re unacquainted, let me give you a brief explanation as a resident of Southern California who’s kind of an anthropologist on Kobe Fans. There is a bastion of sports fans who are so loyal, so devoted to former Los Angeles Laker basketball player Kobe Bryant that it has warped their entire sense of reality. They not only think Kobe Bryant was better than LeBron James, but that he was better than Michael Jordan. Kobe Fans do not care if James has had a better career by virtually any quantifiable measure. Rings! These people have conveniently forgotten Shaquille O’Neal’s entire existence or were too young to even know he played for the Lakers. A solid 30 percent of Kobe Fans are straight-up Warriors fans now, and 75 percent are at least sympathetic to the Warriors even though they play in the same division as the Lakers. Efficiency isn’t that important to Kobe Fans, and what’s more, they think efficiency is stupid. In fact, Kobe Bryant’s entire allure is built around his unabashed selfishness, recklessness, and disregard for things as dumb as “percentages.” It doesn’t matter that Kobe shot 6-of-24 in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, an unwatchable basketball crime seemingly played in molasses. Buckets, homie! (Kobe fans also say “homie.”) Kobe’s inefficient gunner-dom is what The Cult of Kobe is built around — he persevered in spite of all those missed shots. Kobe’s unapologetic selfishness enables their own unapologetic selfishness, as well as their vain hope of thriving despite missing more shots than literally anyone ever. Shoot your shot, homie!
- There’s no longer the obligation to watch November Cavs games in their entirety in the event that I miss something sublime, majestic, poetic, or masterful performed by a generational talent on behalf of my team. There’s now the obligation to watch November games in their entirety so I can watch Cedi Osman blossom into the best player of all time, have Ante Zizic convince me he’s the next Anthony Davis, and see J.R. Smith throw clam chowder at Larry Nance. But at least I no longer have to tune in just in case James does— wait, I’m actually going to have more Lakers games this year aren’t I? Dammit.
- The smug satisfaction of having LeBron James — still the best basketball player in the world — stuck in Los Angeles traffic on his way to games and practices. I wish no ill will toward James whatsoever. BUT the idea of him stuck in the hellish purgatory that is the 405S in the afternoon is slightly therapeutic. It’s only 14 miles from Brentwood to STAPLES, but that could easily be two hours in the afternoon. Sure, there may be more than 300 days of pool weather per year, but try driving a Ferrari 95 mph on the 101 in rush hour! Bath Township won’t sound so bad THEN, will it lololol?
- So much free DVR space! I could up my Jeopardy! “keep at most” total up to like eight episodes, and probably double my Simpsons episode count to 42. There’s also a new Planet Earth nature documentary on the South Pacific dying to chew up space on my DirecTV box.
- I’m going to feel so vindicated when James is lionized by everyone nationally who voted against him for MVP while he was in Cleveland, and shoots a bananas amount of free throws while players could whack him in the face with impunity when he played for the Cavs. Yeah, it’s a trivial consolation, but this is all I have now.
I want LeBron James to go to the Lakers or Celtics just so I can feel vindicated when he shoots 8 more free throws per game and wins 4 MVPs for doing the exact same thing he did in Cleveland.
— Kyle (@kcwelch330) June 29, 2018
- Just think of all the money you’ll save not going out with your friends to watch NBA playoff games in the springs. No more $40 rounds of shots! Sure, you’ve lost potentially hundreds of wonderful hours of fun with your friends and possibly valuable memories, but what is that worth? Four dollars? Five?
- Finally, Dan Gilbert will have the opportunity to build a winning basketball team unhindered by the league’s best player. Sure, he had that opportunity for four years from 2010-14 and it was an unmitigated disaster. But that only matters if you actually care about what happened. Maybe hire Mike Brown again! What’s Byron Scott up to? Is Mark Jackson free? Plus, did you hear Dan Gilbert’s willing to spend a small portion of his fortune to make your basketball team incrementally better? What a guy.
- There are legitimate basketball reasons to be amped for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. Collin Sexton might be good, and I’m ready to love Cedi Osman with all my heart. Now that none of the Cavs’ games will be meaningful after January, there are lots of pointless minutes available to develop young players. Plus, I for one am excited to finally see J.R. Smith have a team to lead.
- When there is no probability of success there can be no crushing disappointment. Ken Mauer and his officiating crew can’t screw the Cavs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals with an unprecedented overturned charge call if the Cavs aren’t in Game of the NBA Finals! We showed him.
- Now that James’ departure is complete, we can have a semi-final retrospective on his two different tenures in Cleveland. One ended well and amicably, the other less so. We’ll always have 11 years of stunning basketball — hundreds of works of art, now frozen in time, waiting to be rediscovered and appreciated. And we’ll always have 2016, and no one — not the Lakers, not any of the dozens of media members and weirdly, creepily, and almost pathetically desperate and eager to see James leave Cleveland — can take that away from Cleveland and Cavaliers fans.
The Calvin and Hobbes Strip of the Day. This strip of Calvin standing atop the ladder features one of the series’ best visual sight gags, and it’s one of my favorite strips. It does so much with one simple, colorless panel.
And now for the random 90s song of the day. I’ve been on an R.E.M. kick of late, and I’m not totally sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling melancholy, maybe it’s because Automatic for the People and Out of Time are two of the finest albums of the 90s, maybe it’s because Michael Stipe is one of the best songwriters of his generation, or maybe it’s because the band born in Athens, Georgia, is uniquely capable of channeling the sad, profound vastness of summer twilights in sonic form.
“Half a World Away,” from 1991’s Out of Time, is a beautiful, elegiac song. The video matches the tone with a mournful yet hopeful black-and-white video showing a contemplative man and scenes of a past American landscape. It feels inspired by a Jack Kerouac-style journey across America and into the soul — an On the Road video to pair with the “on the road” song cliché — not too distant in time from The Grapes of Wrath and Dust Bowls, when a hobo could hitchhike and ride in boxcars across the country with a bindle full of bean cans and learn something about himself and the country and the human spirit.
This could be the saddest dusk I’ve ever seen
Turn to a miracle, high-alive
My mind is racing, as it always will
My hands tired, my heart aches
I’m half a world away here
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- In Southern California they say “the [interstate number],” especially for single digit ones — you get used to it. [↩]