The 17-Year Roller Coaster

Today, I saw that LeBron James’ first game was 17 years ago to date. I remember listening to radio announcer Joe Tait for the majority of the affair that was in Sacramento against the Kings way back in 2003. I was just a little boy at the time, but certainly already a die-hard Cavaliers fan.

It’s incredible to think about how one man has affected not only my life but tens of millions. The hype was certainly there on that October night 17 years ago, but no one knew just how big this young man would get over a generation. There was plenty of apprehension, uncertainty and flat-out denial about this kid they called King.

From finally getting the Cavs to the playoffs, then to the finals, to leaving for Miami and everyone hating him, to coming home, to winning the title down 3-1, to leaving again and winning with the Lakers for Kobe…the drama hasn’t stopped.

LeBron is now 35 and just won the said championship. He certainly has a few more years left in the tank, yet everyone knows he will go down as one of if not the Greatest of All-Time. That is a top debate amongst fans…

Sure, after “The Decision” in 2010, I hated LeBron. Leaving Cleveland without winning a championship, announcing it on national television, he became enemy number one in these parts. However, four years later, he would return and win that championship for the Wine & Gold that was missing from his glorious resume.

This gift to Cleveland made the move to Los Angeles in 2018 much less of a deal, even though it was abandoning the Cavs once again. It honestly felt like it was time to turn the page and the Cavs were unable to beat the Warriors anymore anyway. Thus, a move to Los Angeles allowed the team to begin a rebuild and LeBron to win a ring out west.

Certainly, I idolized LeBron growing up.

James was a God-like figure in Cleveland and really around the world. The man was so talented and such a competitor. It was so incredible that not only did he play for the team I cheered for, but he came from these parts by growing up in Akron, Ohio.

They say the true fans root for the teams and not the players (fantasy sports aside). And yes, no matter who is on the Cavs, they will always be my number one. Yet LeBron was the first player where even when he was in Miami and I “hated” him, deep down I wanted to see him win a title. When he was in The Finals with Los Angeles, I openly wrote about wanting him to win.

I never really rooted for players outside of the Cleveland teams until LeBron changed that over the years of seeing his domination…

For many seasons, turning on the TV or being lucky enough to attend a game with LeBron James playing, there was one thing that was for sure. The chance to get to Witness something incredible was very high and that makes being his fan so incredible.

 

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