As I sit here today on July 8, 2010 all I listen to from people around me is where will LeBron James be going to play basketball next season? Will he stay in Cleveland, will he go to Miami, will he surprise us all and go to the Indiana Pacers (that'll never happen). As I wait for tonight's decision which will air on ESPN at 9pm, I wonder about the historical context of his decision. In a country where we idolize our celebrities and treat sports figures like gods is it any surprise that this is such a big deal. The question I have is what effect will this free agent move mean to our history as an American people. Please do not misunderstand what I'm saying because I do not plan on seeing LeBron James and his decision tonight in an American history textbook but what will it mean to our culture? Better yet, how will it effect our history?
Look into the past at where Cleveland was eight years ago. A major city unknown to many around the country. Mentioned only by the random celebrities that claim it home it is rarely mentioned in the national media. With the acquisition of LeBron James in 2003 Cleveland turned international, it was known globally. Their city has transformed, businesses were formed and the economy has flourished simply because of one man playing basketball there. Once LeBron James leaves their sports and culture will be devastated. How can we not look at this decision in the context of its effect on cultural history. As the decision draws near more and more people are indicating that he will be leaving, Miami seems the likely destination. So if he goes there how will things change? Cleveland's economy will be hurt almost immediately. The amount of money that the Cavaliers generate will drop, which will result in less money going to the people of the city. Businesses will be forced to close because the majority of their revenue was centered around the Cavaliers and their popularity in the city and around the world. On the opposite side Miami will see a major boom. Ticket sales will skyrocket and be near impossible to get. Revenue will grow exponentially which means more growth for the city. This will all have drastic effects on the people and culture of both two cities. Showing another indication of the effect on our culture, for the last two months all people have been able to talk about is the NBA free agency summer of 2010. Specifically over the last two weeks that is all the sports outlets and even major media types have been able to discuss. People all around have either heard about it or have discussed it in length. The world wants to know what he will do and we as citizens are waiting for him to tell us.
Now when we look back at 2010 there are far bigger stories already that would dominate our memories: Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, the earthquake in Haiti, the oil spill in the gulf, and that's only six months into the year. Little will be said about LeBron James' decision to pick a team but does that mean it did not effect our culture. What will you remember most about 2010? I would argue that whether you want to believe it or not this free agency summer will have a great effect on our cultural history. As a student of history and a fan of basketball I do not want to believe that this is a culturally historical moment however I believe that it is.