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LeBron Can Do Something Much More for Cleveland than Simply Bringing its People a Ring

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↵How polite of the news cycle to slow up just as the blessed holiday of Thanksgiving is approaching. Thankfully (get it?!), this gives me the perfect opportunity to share with you one of my opinions on the LeBron situation. Not my reaction to a rumor, or airing out of the latest salary cap scenarios around the league, but just something to chew on. ↵
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↵So much of the "he's out of here" speculation has focused on Bron's desire to play under bigger, brighter lights, which would mean more revenue streams and even greater international acclaim. I've always thought his main motivator should be the Cavs' seeming incompetence in the front office which, judging from this season's early returns seems to have let up some. And from the way James is playing, you can tell he's feeling it. ↵
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↵There's also been this dueling narrative about his love for Cleveland, his desire to bring a championship there, and having grown up there himself, a strong understanding of just how much this would mean for his city, state and region -- especially in these troubled times. ↵
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↵Now, I'm not about to assign LeBron any unrealistically charitable inclinations, or think that regional loyalty trumps a chance to take over the world (no one told Caesar to just hang out and make Rome awesome). But think about it: How many times have you heard "Cleveland" mentioned in the national media since James showed up? And by what factor has that increased since this whole 2010 issue started taking so much of everyone's time? ↵
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↵All I'm saying in this: A ring for his city would be nice, but more importantly, LeBron James is in the middle of "putting Cleveland on the map" in a very real way. Sure, the economy won't recover just because the NBA's best player resides there, but as far as public relations, visibility, and people taking a chance on the city are concerned, this kind of branding is invaluable. ↵
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↵Turning yourself into a superstar to end all superstars has been done before. Even if you factor in attaining the everlasting love of the Chinese and Russians. But to quite literally transform a failed American city into a place that doesn't automatically elicit guffaws, to make it respectable again ... what native son wouldn't want to do that for a hometown he so clearly loves? And honestly, what other athlete has ever been in a position to do this? ↵
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↵The dollars will be there; from the last few months, it looks like the team will, too. If James does go with Cleveland -- and that's a big "if" -- he could finally be changing the Jordan paradigm with something other than increased sneaker revenues and larger overseas audiences.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.