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LeBron James makes 9th appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated

LeBron James makes his 9th appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
LeBron James makes his 9th appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Cleveland Rocks.  So says the May 25th issue Sports Illustrated, featuring LeBron James for the 9th time.  The story, written by Cleveland-native Joe Posnanski once again opens the deep wound that is the history of Cleveland sports. 

Posnanski explains why an NBA title would do more that quench Cleveland's championship drought. It would give solace to a city with a massive inferiority complex.

In recalling his early childhood, Posnanski opines: "Cleveland was America's punch line. That was not long after the Cuyahoga River caught fire, not long after Mayor Ralph Perk's hair also caught fire at some ribbon-cutting ceremony. This was when Lake Erie was so polluted that people talked about walking across it to Canada, when Mayor Dennis Kucinich had to wear a wee bulletproof vest to throw out the first pitch at an Indians game because of death threats, when Cleveland became the first city since the Depression to default on loans.

The efforts to save Cleveland then were earnest and touchingly misguided. I remember when the city's image makers decided on a new slogan: ‘New York's the Big Apple, but Cleveland's a plum.' Tourism, as far as I know, did not skyrocket. Most people referred to Cleveland as they always had: the Mistake by the Lake."

This down-and-out mentality - not to mention previous heartbreak induced by the Indians, Browns and Cavaliers - has made Clevelanders cautiously optimistic amidst the Cavs' 2009 playoff performance, even as they acknowledge the novelty of what they're witnessing.

Posnanski continues: "There's something perfect and different about this Cavaliers team, with so many likable and selfless basketball players surrounding the star of stars, LeBron James, the Akron kid who can beat any defender, toss the perfect pass, crash to the basket. ‘LeBron is God's reward to Cleveland for the suffering,' [Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Terry] Pluto says, and he's only half-serious, but he is also absolutely half-serious. Sure, our Cleveland paranoia tingles, and even as I write these words I worry about Cleveland curses and calamities and catastrophes. Even now, I can't help but feel a bit like my Cleveland friend, magazine writer Scott Raab, who says, ‘I have no doubt this will end in sorrow. I don't know how.' "