At 9:03 p.m. EST, the sun set on Cleveland, Ohio. At approximately 9:35 p.m., many Clevelanders felt as if it may never come back up.
LeBron James, northeast Ohio's native son who single-handedly dragged a Cleveland Cavaliers franchise on life support out of the ground and into the NBA's elite, has decided to leave a once-again crippled Cavs organization and take his dominating game to Miami to join fellow mega-stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
When put in the right perspective, you can't really blame him for joining a team like Miami's (relax, Cleveland). Joining two other perennial All-Stars on a team with legend Pat Riley at the helm nearly locks up at least one NBA title for LeBron. After all, he has been consistent in saying that winning is what's most important to him.
Also, Miami is really, really nice.
For the Cleveland faithful (those of us who remain), the feeling of monstrous disappointment/nausea isn't much of a novelty. The wounds from Cleveland's laundry list of athletic disasters are still excruciatingly fresh.
But this is different.
Everything about Cleveland's latest catastrophe seems to sting more than most of the well-chronicled Cleveland sports tragedies.
When LeBron arrived in Cleveland and hushed the armies of critics ready to shoot down the hype flying around him, Clevelanders claimed a rare, growing hope of attaining that which has so craftily eluded them for so long: Winning.
As LeBron's career in Cleveland went along and his grasp on the NBA tightened, he matured into the region's brightest shot at its first championship in over 40 years.
The fact that James grew up in nearby Akron made it all so much sweeter.
As usual, the Cavaliers became tantalizingly close to capturing an NBA title in 2009, only to flop against the previously-overlooked Orlando Magic. After an even more impressive campaign this season, LeBron and the Cavaliers once again bowed out of the postseason in early fashion—this time to the hated Boston Celtics.
By the time the Lakers locked up their latest championship last month, hysteria and utter panic were already running rampant through the streets of Cleveland.
The thought of falling from nearly the top of the NBA—and geting so close to snapping a "curse" that just won't break—back to the league's dungeon chilled many a Cavalier fan. (The products the Indians and Browns have put on display lately certainly haven't helped soothe anything.)
That thought has just taken a terrifying turn toward reality.
The one element about the newest crushing blow that hurts the most to Cleveland?
LeBron putting himself on a pedestal for all to view (and they did).
He was told how awesome he is via highlights and interviews—before ditching his hometown when he was needed the most.
This Modellian defection, which James turned into a worldwide spectacle, and the supremely disappointing end to James' career in Cleveland make the latest chapter in Cleveland's sad sports story just a tad more disheartening than nearly any that have been penned before it.
If all those painful moments have taught Clevelanders anything, however, it is that we possess some of the most resolute, unfaltering resolve around.
The sun will rise tomorrow, Cleveland.
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