LeBron and the city of Cleveland

I always remember that defining moment in the 2010 NBA Playoffs when LeBron James walked off the floor, and stripped off his Cleveland jersey in a matter of seconds after his team got whipped by the Boston Celtics to send his team home. It was a sad moment because the city of Cleveland needed LeBron much more than LeBron needed them, and when he ripped off that jersey you knew he was not re-signing with the team.

I think LeBron was tired and thought that perhaps he can play with some of his friends and not feel the pressure anymore. I think he just wanted to play and not worry about anything else. But with great talent comes great responsibility as that’s how the cookie crumbles, and what he didn’t realize was that it’s impossible to not feel that pressure. He’ll always have it even when he retires.

There have been many brilliant people born into this world who didn’t like the gifts that they were given. Some men and women with genius IQs sit on the sidelines of life because they really don’t care to do anything with themselves. And I guess that’s fine because we all have that right. The world is a scary and brutal place for many of us and we can just stop caring about it. So why give to the world when we think it doesn’t deserve it? The brilliant mind has the ability to come up with many conclusions on what this world is really all about and what it deserves.

And LeBron is a genius in many ways. He’s gifted athletically and could probably have played any sport he chose at a brilliant level. Can you imagine if he was born in Brazil and became a soccer player? He would have been the greatest soccer player in the history of mankind with his speed, quickness, and ability to see 5 steps ahead of everyone else in a Gretzky like way. Sometimes when I watch him play I wished the basketball court was bigger as it seems like he’s too big for it and perhaps soccer should have been his chosen profession.

As luck would have it, LeBron was born in the Cleveland area. And I think his time away taught him how much he needs to give back to the community that raised him. And that’s what he’s doing now and the Cavaliers are my new favorite team.

I love Cleveland. Born in Niagara Falls, my dad used to take me to see the Indians play when I was a kid. My all-time best sports moment was sitting in the front row in September 1990 at old Cleveland Stadium watching the Indians-Blue Jays game, worrying before the game that I was 2 days away from starting high school and scared out of my wits, but all was good for a few hours when Dave Stieb pitched a no-hitter. Ever since then Cleveland was my town.

And now it’s up to LeBron, the genius,  to help that city out and give them the title it deserves. He’s back and I’m proud.

My personal top 10 being at the game moments:

10. Dave Stewart no-hitter 1991 Skydome

9. Grant Fuhr stops 51 shots in a Maple Leaf/Red Wing thriller at the old Garden. A place that turned into a grocery store that I now shop at and live 3 blocks away from.

8. 1985 ALCS Blue Jays/Royals. I was just a kid but I’ll always remember the crushing blow of Jim Sundberg’s triple and we knew we were going to lose.

7. 1989 Cleveland Stadium on my birthday. Blue Jays win it in extra innings as Lee Mazzolla drives in winning run on pinch hit single. Me, my dad, and a childhood friend who passed away 2 years ago.

6. 1986. Old Maple Leaf Garden. Harlem Globetrotters game with sister and parents. It all felt right that night.

5. 2000 Bills/Packers at Rich Stadium in Buffalo with my dad on my birthday. Bills win and Doug Flutie was the king.

4. 1991 Blue Jays/Tigers at old Tiger Stadium. Catch first ball at game, a Mickey Tettleton home run ball in the bleachers. Proudest moment of my life at the time.

3. 1990 Bills/Eagles at Rich Stadium in Buffalo. Bills showcase their no-huddle offense for first time. Randall Cunningham throws 99 touchdown bomb after ducking a Bruce Smith sack in the endzone. Was 30 feet away from the play. Greatest athletic moment I’ve ever seen in person.

2. 2013. Rogers Center. First game with my future wife. Realized that she might like baseball after all.

1. Dave Stieb no-hitter 1990 Cleveland Stadium


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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