9 Jul 2010 8:30 am   //   Filed under: In the news

“Dear All Of Northeast Ohio;”

I’m not about to dis Cleveland. It’s the city where my dad was born and several of my relatives still live. That said, I’m not weeping over LeBron James’s choice to abandon his hometown for a bigger market and more money. King James is exactly right to go to Miami.

In America, we are all free agents. We can move from city to city, and if one city offers more appeal than another, we should go there. It’s how many of my friends and I ended up in New York. It’s good economics; theoretically a mobile workforce should mean higher employment and better pay for workers, since people are empowered to seek out jobs anywhere.

But what about the small city that gets abandoned by its best people, who are lured away like moths to bright lights? How is that fair? Doesn’t a hero owe his hometown some loyalty?

Fortunately, there’s an app for that. It’s called the local-boy-makes-good narrative. It’s one of the all-time classic stories. Nobody has done a better job of exploiting that narrative in recent years than “American Idol,” the most successful TV show of the decade. Your shining star grows up and leaves town, and the whole town follows her career’s every move.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert doesn’t see it that way. In a bizarre and bitter open letter posted last night (and set in Comic Sans on NBA.com!), Gilbert slams the player who helped make him rich.

You can tell the letter’s going to be a strange one simply by its salutation, complete with semicolon: “Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;”

Gilbert gets an A+ for showmanship and boosterism, but I think he falls down with a couple of paragraphs attacking LeBron:

“If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our ‘motivation’ to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

“This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown ‘chosen one’ sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And ‘who’ we would want them to grow-up to become.”

No. Actually, LeBron sends a good message to children: Train hard. Be good. Make yourself wanted. And then call your own shots.