Now that a new month is almost upon us, it’s time to look back at the biggest story of July, the Miami Heat’s signing of LeBron James, announced during a one-hour special televised July 8 by ESPN.
In one Lawrence home, the morning started with a husband trying yet again to engage his wife in a sports conversation, still failing to surrender to the reality that she has far too much going for her upstairs to waste time worrying a great deal about what’s happening in the sports world.
Developer Bob Moore is blessed with a dry wit and is a sneaky-good golfer, some days so sneaky he’s not all that good. To many, he’s known best as the father of one of the members (Marty Moore) of Lawrence’s best band, The Twang Daddies.
“I believe that every once in a while you should have a conversation with your wife,” Bob Moore said, his mischievous words dying of thirst.
So he looked up from the sports section and tried to start one.
“Well,” Moore asked his wife, Marna. “Where do you think LeBron’s going to end up?”
“I don’t know,” Marna said, trying her best act as if she cared, “but he sure would look good in a Jayhawk uniform.”
Good thing Marna didn’t put any money on that prediction.
Days after James left the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lawrence resident Al Horning, vice president/human relations for Hill’s Pet Nutrition in Topeka, went to Akron, which was his hometown long before it was LeBron’s. Horning attended a relative’s wedding, where much of the discussion centered on James leaving everybody’s favorite team. Horning attended Walsh Jesuit High, arch rival of LeBron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron.
“It was only the years that LeBron was there that they beat Walsh in basketball,” Horning said with pride.
Horning remembers when Akron was booming, thanks in large part to its standing as the tire manufacturing center of the universe. Those days went the way of the VCR.
“Even a (Walsh) guy like me loved having LeBron with the Cavs,” Horning said. “In an area that is economically depressed, factories closing down, businesses going south, LeBron was the ray of hope people still there had that we’ll win a championship. So they were bitter and twisted when he made his tasteless announcement.”
Sometimes you just have to ask a question, even though you already know the answer. What sentence uttered by LeBron made the announcement tasteless?
“I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” Horning said. “Not to the Miami Heat. Not to my new team, to the bar district of Miami. A Walsh grad never would have said that.”
Horning said he enjoyed watching his cousin’s son, “throw away his LeBron jersey in disgust,” but also said nobody at the wedding took LeBron’s departure personally.
“To a person, everyone I talked to was embarrassed by the comments the owner (Dan Gilbert) made afterward,” Horning said. “Total lack of class.”
Even so, Horning’s not the rabid fan of LeBron he once was.
“It’s just that he took the wind out of the sails of the area, and I think he understood that,” Horning said. “He knew it meant a lot to the people of Ohio, Akron and Cleveland in particular.”