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LeBron James' announcement tonight could scar city of Cleveland forever

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The best way I can relate to this LeBron James fiasco as a Philly fan would probably be during the Will LeBron James turn his back on Cleveland? Photo:http://images.pictureshunt.com/pics/l/lebron_james-4352.jpg Eagles' off-season of 1993. You remember, the off-season where Reggie White, the greatest defensive end the team has ever seen, left the Birds for greener pastures (literally) in what was known as a major groundbreaking moment in NFL Free Agency. After all, God told Reggie to go to the Green Bay Packers, so I could see his point.

All jokes aside, I remember as a fifteen-year-old watching clips of the "Reggie Rally" at JFK Plaza and thinking that we had absolutely no hope in hell of seeing White in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform ever again. It sucked. We won't get into the particulars, but "That Guy in France" was the main reason White got a Super Bowl ring with Brett Favre and not the Eagles.

So in about six hours, fans in Cleveland will experience something not unlike what we experienced here in Philly two decades ago, when "King" James will make his "State Of LeBron" speech to the world tonight on ESPN. While it's a stroke of PR genius, within the span of a few minutes, fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers will either jump for joy in celebration that James has decided to stay in his hometown, or they will be ready to burn the city down in realization that the NBA Draft Lottery is just ten months away, and their team is going to have a lot of balls in that machine. If you thought Philly was bad for experiencing heartache, just wait until you get the reaction from fans in Cleveland tonight a little after 9:00 pm EST if James is on his way to the Miami Heat. Let's face it, we KNEW Reggie wasn't coming back. There doesn't seem to be any bitterness towards James and the Cavaliers organization- yet.............

This will be the third major athlete that Cleveland has lost in as many years if James departs. C.C. Sabathia in 2008, Cliff Lee last summer, and now possibly James. Can you imagine being a Cavaliers fan, and watching your hometown hero tell you he is leaving your city in the dust for another team? I'm not saying that James has to be tied to Cleveland forever just because he is from there, but there are certainly more classy and subtle ways of doing this than breaking the hearts of these people if he has decided to move on. Cleveland fans will never forgive him for that, and I can't say I blame them. That is the ultimate slap in the face.

Maybe James is suffering from "Shaq Syndrome" (ie- Orlando wasn't "Big Enough" for him), who knows? Regardless of where James goes or if he stays in Cleveland, he needs a supporting cast to help him win an eventual championship. That means either (A. Sacrificing your scoring to help the team win, or (B. Possibly taking less money so the team he chooses can actually afford other legitimate players besides himself. Athletes want to have their cake and eat it too, but you can't expect James to relate to that.

That's probably why he doesn't understand that his announcement on his prime time special may forever sink the hearts of the entire city of Cleveland.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope James does the right thing and makes this announcement for all the right reasons. If not, then Art Modell  is going to be breathing a little easier.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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