Soon reality will begin to sink in. Every hardcore sports fan has that one player on your team that will surely leave for another team and break your heart. When the 2010-11 NBA season begins, basketball will now have an “us vs. them” mentality. We want our players to pull an Yzerman, Dumars or Thomas and spend their entire playing careers here in Detroit, but that is no longer a realistic mentality.
As I watched LeBron James attempt to turn his words into sentences during a ridiculous “interview” with Jim Gray, it needed to be said that sports are a business and James’ loyalty to Cleveland, and Ohio, was only by birth alone. James always wanted something bigger and who are we to suggest otherwise? We take for granted seeing Matthew Stafford or Chris Osgood wear Tigers hats, but it was James proud to wear a Yankees hat when they came in town to play his “hometown” Indians. This free agent season was merely a game for James to yet again get what he wanted, and for another moment, another Midwest city is impacted in both spirit and economically.
When Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez essentially began the transition of the Tigers from a bottom-feeder to a contender, he simply went to the city that gave him the most money. This was in a stark contrast to the pursuit of Miguel Tejada and Carl Pavano, who seemingly wouldn’t sign with the Tigers under any conditions. It’s my belief that even the most money-hungry athletes will feel a sense of loyalty when a team throws a bundle of money at them. In the Pudge deal, and the Ordonez deal that came shortly after, those players did demonstrate some loyalty to their new franchises through their deals.
For our friends in Cleveland, we know what it’s like to have odds seemingly against you. Cleveland, much like Detroit, is a constantly evolving city with a passionate sports base. The right people are leading those sports teams and it will only be a matter of time before that nearly 50-year drought comes to a halt.