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updated: 7/12/2014 11:59 PM

What's up with Cleveland being so forgiving?

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  • Fans whoop it up behind an ESPN reporter outside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland after NBA star LeBron James announced he would return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      Fans whoop it up behind an ESPN reporter outside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland after NBA star LeBron James announced he would return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
    Associated Press

 
 

So, Cleveland welcomes LeBron James back to town.

Pathetic, isn't it?

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Consider this hypothetical: After a few years back in the late 1980s, Michael Jordan left the Bulls for a better chance to win championships in, say, New York.

Jordan went to the Knicks for four seasons, made the NBA Finals four times and won two titles.

Then His Airness wanted to return to Chicago. What do you think, should we have let him?

Heck, no. Hopefully not. If we weren't good enough for you then, fella, you're not good enough for us now.

Now back to James, Cleveland and the Cavaliers.

James' motives for the reunion sure do sound noble: family considerations and to help his home area win a championship.

But this love-hate-love relationship that northeast Ohio has with James is almost as embarrassing as Wisconsin's is with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Wisconsin currently is paying Jabbar to appear in commercials and endorse the state's tourism industry. The state must have forgotten that he couldn't wait to bolt Milwaukee and the Bucks for the Lakers during the prime of his legendary career.

"I can't believe I ever left this place," Jabbar says in the ad.

He's looking down from an airplane cockpit -- in a takeoff of the film "Airplane," which he had a role in -- like he looked down on Wisconsin decades ago.

At the 1977 NBA All-Star Game in Milwaukee. Bucks fans cheered Jabbar when he was introduced.

Huh? Didn't the guy abandon you by forcing a trade just a couple of years earlier?

Apparently it was enough for Wisconsin that Jabbar helped the Bucks win an NBA title: "Oh, thank you, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, we're eternally grateful and acknowledge that we're beneath you."

Again, now back to James, Cleveland and the Cavaliers.

The Cavs are paying LeBron James the maximum to come back, and Clevelanders are thrilled to have him.

James grew up in northeast Ohio, Akron to be specific, just down the road from Cleveland, which made his departure even more painful in 2010.

When James left, he kissed off the neighbors he grew up with and who supported him his entire life.

James further irritated the wound on national TV with the infamous "The Decision."

Look, I'm a big fan of James, but that was like he filed for divorce. Think of him as a husband who left his wife after seven years of marriage to run off with the town hussy.

Then after four wildly romantic years with the hussy -- while the wife dated nothing but boring losers -- the husband wants to return and remarry.

Uh-uh, buster. No way, Mr. James. No mulligans here. A thing called pride trumps winning.

Here's what the Cavaliers should have done with LeBron James: Negotiate a contract with him and let him establish the terms.

James wants a maximum contract? The Cavs nod. He wants promises the team will spend into the luxury tax to build a supporting cast? The Cavs nod. He wants this and that and that and this? The Cavs keep nodding.

Then at the end of the discussions, when the parameters of a deal are set, the Cavs get up from the table and say, "Sorry, sir, hit the road … we don't want you … we don't need you that badly … how do you like being the one hearing that this time?"

Forgive? No, carry a grudge. Forget? No, be vindictive.

I know, I know. Cleveland hasn't won a championship in any sport since 1964. Still, better to try in football with Johnny Football and not in basketball with King James.

Welcoming LeBron James back is losing by winning and winning by losing.

Hopefully Chicago is never that desperate.

Or that pathetic.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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