Lots of things happened last night at 9:30, when LeBron James smirked slightly and told Jim Gray that he’d be “taking his talents to South Beach.” A small smattering of applause was heard in the studio where he made his announcement, but the reverberations were much louder throughout the rest of the country.
Miami celebrated, knowing the balance of NBA power had shifted comfortably to them in a matter of days. New York quietly steamed, knowing that years of preparation and posturing had ultimately led to nothing. But the sharpest emotions were felt in and around Cleveland.
As I write this, Mike Greenberg is projecting the top four teams in the Eastern Conference on ESPN Radio. Let’s hold the phone on that for a second, since there will be plenty of time to play that game in the coming weeks. Let’s instead focus on the pain that Cleveland is feeling right now.
And it is pain. LeBron James was their entire franchise, and now he is gone. The only thing worse would be if the team itself decided to pack up and move to Baltimore.
Their owner has made it quite clear that that won’t happen. That there will be hope. That there will be championships. That there will be a better day.
But for now, there’s just anger and resentment. Here are those emotions, reflected on the front and back pages of Ohio newspapers:
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland)