The Self-Declared Former King
By Padya Paramita
One man united a city. The same man who won the hearts of every citizen, has now become their number one public enemy. They rejoiced together over his achievements, now they cry together in his abandonment.
The city of Cleveland, Ohio was not known to have much success in sports. The baseball team, football team and basketball team were all in the same state - mediocre, with little or no significant success for decades.
In 2003, their NBA team, the Cavaliers got the first draft pick in the draft, bringing them an opportunity to erase all sporting disasters. They did not pick any overseas rookie who had earned trophies in college. In fact, they chose a player from their very city of Ohio who had not attended college. They chose an eighteen-year-old named LeBron James who would give Cleveland fans hope like never before in the years to come.
When he was in high school, LeBron had been voted three-time "Mr Basketball of Ohio." He had thus been highly promoted by the media as a future NBA superstar. He did not disappoint.
LeBron was highly successful in his rookie season (2003-04) for the Cavaliers including becoming the youngest player in league history to score more than forty points in a game. He was named "Rookie of the Season".
The following seasons carried on in the same fashion and LeBron had become known as "King James" for his dominating performances on the court. He wore the number 23, the same number Michael Jordan had worn for the Bulls.
He made back to back appearances for the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star Game from 2005-2009 thanks to his outstanding performances in the Cleveland jersey. Those were also the years LeBron led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA playoffs.
It had become a monotonous routine for LeBron. Amazing regular season, topping all individual performance charts and the team topping league tables. He received consecutive regular season Most Valueble Player awards. They got further in the playoffs each year, but they could never taste league victory.
LeBron's Cavaliers contract ended on the 1st of July. Naturally almost all the teams were interested including the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Heat, Clippers and of course Cleveland.
One of those offers, the one from Miami, seemed above others. Miami could afford to buy LeBron as well as his fellow free agents and all-stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
On ESPN special program The Decision, LeBron said, "In this fall, this is very tough, in this fall I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat... I feel like it's going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championships. And I feel like I can compete down there."
As much as the concept of the "Big Three" playing together excited neutral fans, it saw an anger like never before arise within Cleveland fans. Majority had expected the hometown hero to stay and fight for the Cavaliers and their disappointment was justified. They burnt his jerseys, cried their eyes out and eventually found solace in calling him names such as "LeQuitter" and "LeTraitor."
Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert published an open-letter almost immediately after LeBron's decision, where he dubbed LeBron's move as "selfish," "heartless" "callous" and a "cowardly decision." He also guaranteed that Cleveland would bring home the NBA title before the "self-declared former King."
LeBron is currently playing his debut season for Miami Heat. He does not wear his old jersey number "23." In fact, he had earlier filed papers to change it to '6.' He claims to still love Cleveland and its people.
The people of Cleveland now despise the one man who had once taught them to hope and dream. It is united, and it does not bow down to one man alone.
LeBron James defined Cleveland Cavaliers. Now that he is gone, they count the days until the arrival of another hero and they can dare to dream once more.
We gave you the topic Strangers last week and the write up below was a simple yet captivating piece. For next week we have Five Weird Ways to Bunk Class. Up until now most of the entries in this column have been somewhat devoid of humour. So for next week, bring the funnies. Entries have to be written within 500 words and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon Sunday.
By Munawar Mobin
The horns heralded the sudden awakening of the dormant cars on the road. The sounds broke through the cold winter night announcing the colour change of the traffic signal. In an instant, the boy was off the road and onto the pavement.
He waited in a calm patience, something that was too mature for a boy of his age, yet he was still there, standing in the ten degree Celsius night on the dusty pavement. His little t-shirt had a smudge around the centre and the torn end of the frail garment fluttered whenever the wind blew strong. As soon as the cars stopped, he ran across the maze, towards its very heart. The remnants of his pants tattered along the dirty road, gathering more than just dirt and germs; but that was of no significance to the youngling. He reached the middle of the road and started to look around. When he found what he was looking for he went straight for the kill. His constant vigil and determination proved to be a success for, by the time the cars roared again, he had already stuffed into his dirty pockets the ten taka note he had so rightfully earned.
As the night grew older, his movements became more and more despondent. Shelter was paramount. He walked on and through his dismal eyes he spied a light in the distance. He ran towards it. His eyes lit up, when he saw a huge building, coloured with golden lights. The gold shone on the visage of the boy as he stood there, awed at the perfection.
He would have been finished had it not been for the man in the long coat. The little boy's nascent instincts and young mind had been too absorbed in the beguiling decorations to notice the car speeding towards him, horns blaring. The man had pulled him away just in time as the driver had bellowed a profanity and sped away angrily.
The little boy brushed himself and would have run had the man not gripped his hand so hard. As the boy looked up, the grip loosened to a gentle yet firm hold. The boy looked into the man's eyes, they had a touch of brown in them, he noticed, but he had also noticed the warmth in their depths. The man shook his head as he looked at the boy with a mixture of disappointment and pity. He took off his coat and pulled off the sweater underneath. Before knowing it, the tiny boy was in the warm garment. His nose filled with a strong yet gentle rush of cologne as his head came out through the opening of the woollen sweater. The man smiled at the boy and the boy stared in bewilderment, his world had always been devoid of such actions.
Strangers they were both, yet they also shared the greatest of bonds. There is nothing above human compassion.
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