First of all, let me say with emphasis what I know to be certain at least as far as today: LBJ wants to be in Cleveland. LBJ was raised in Northeast Ohio and for years made his living in Cleveland, earning recognition. But before I go any further with my thoughts, let me say the LBJ of which I speak is Leon Bibb Junior – yours truly. But enough about me and plans to stay in Cleveland … at least so far.
Let me now speak of the other LBJ – LeBron James. He, too, is in the news business, not as a journalist as I am, but as the center of the news. Newsman’s question: Will he stay or will he go? Certainly, here at News 5, our sports team people will have more details on what LeBron might be thinking.
But I think LeBron ought to stay. He is one of us, having grown up in Northeast Ohio. He was the kid from Akron who leaped onto the national scene while still in high school. When it came time to get him, the Cleveland Cavs jumped at the chance and the ball bounced our way.
For years, Cleveland’s ball has bounced quite nicely. The dollar-counting people in downtown Cleveland say LeBron is worth $300 million in the local economy. Without him in Cleveland, restaurants, hotels, bars, and other businesses in downtown might not have it so well. He ought to be able to get a free Pepsi-Cola wherever he goes. Or does he do the Sprite commercial?
Anyway, I’m hoping LeBron will stay. I talked to my good friend, the guy I call the Old Philosopher. As usual, he had bellied up to the bar drinking his usual iced tea with a splash of lemon. The Old Philosopher chimes in: “You know, Leon, I ain’t a-gonna beg LeBron to stay, although I’m hopin’ he will.” I nod in agreement. He orders another iced tea with lemon. Then he adds: “I agree with Shaquille and Barkley when told him: 'Don’t go chasin’ championship rings.’”
Maybe it’s something else LeBron is chasing or says he is chasing, or we think he might be chasing. Maybe it's Los Angeles and all that Hollywood glitter. But I’m kind of leaning to the fact LeBron James is an Akron man. I kind of think his heart is really here and that he really realized that when he went to show his talents in Miami a few years ago.
After a time in Miami when there came the possibility LeBron might come back to Cleveland, a friend of mine who knows LeBron well, has studied him, and been with him told me. “He’s coming back home, Leon.” This friend of LeBron told me during LeBron’s Miami time that the secret to LeBron was Akron. My friend, who was close to LeBron, told me “to take it to the bank that LeBron is really an Akron man and that is where his heart is.” LeBron came back to Akron. And Cleveland. And Northeast Ohio.
I am hoping that is the case again. I am not going to beg as did a bunch of people who years ago made that crazy video of singing to LeBron and begging him to not leave Cleveland. I don’t want to beg for anything. Mr. LeBron James will do what he wants and what is best for him.
Still, I want LeBron to finish out his career where it began – Cleveland and Akron. I think back to that Salvation Army gymnasium on the West End of Akron where LeBron, at the age of 10, met his first coach – Dru Joyce. Dru would later become his high school coach. But LeBron was 10 when he played his first organized ball in a small Salvation Army gym which had room only for a court and no spectators. I have been in that gym and talked with coach Dru Joyce about the kid who he saw develop into the best player on the planet.
I am hoping LeBron will think about his beginnings in that little Salvation Army gym in Akron. And think about Saint. Vincent Saint Mary High School in Akron. And think about the Q in Cleveland. But if he does decide to move on…. Well, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. He promised a Cleveland championship and delivered in 2016 and led us to the finals twice more after that. His history and his legacy are set. I’m Leon Bibb Junior - LBJ. I don’t know what the other LBJ is gonna do.