So, by now you've probably read LeBron's quote from the Outside the Lines segment where he says he's very comfortable in Cleveland. It's just the latest in a series of soundbites that everyone's analyzing for any hint as to whether the King will stay in Cleveland after his contract is up or whether he'll ditch the sunny shores of Lake Erie for a bigger spotlight.
In a post on TrueHoop, Henry Abbott points out a column by Gregory Doyle in Dubai's The National where Doyle says he thinks LeBron will stay. What does it matter that some dude writing for a paper in Dubai thinks that? Well, Doyle spent a ton of time in Akron previously, and spend a ton of time with Lebron. That's why. Here's a portion of what he wrote.
I found myself in the middle of LeBron's whirlwind for several years. What started at the 2003 Atlanta All-Star game, where I rapped Jay-Z lyrics with one of LeBron's buddies, led to summers in Akron watching LeBron's off-season scrimmages. ...
During those summers around Akron, I realised that I was lucky to be a part of something special. Few were invited. I was there because I had contacts to decent players who would scrimmage against LeBron. The day of a game, I would receive a text message with a time and location. It was all very discreet.
One time I was asked to get some cases of bottled water, but came back with the wrong brand. LeBron was a Coca-Cola guy.
I headed back to the store and explained that I needed a different brand. When the clerk asked why, I told him that I was getting the water for LeBron and he only drank Dasani. As I drove back to the gym, I noticed the clerk was following me.
Like a character in a cop thriller, I then led the clerk on a wild chase through Akron, trying to lose the tail. The King's location would not be compromised.
LeBron has succeeded because of his Akron community. They nurtured him when the going was tough and celebrated along with him when the going got good. I doubt he ever leaves Cleveland.
The idea that LeBron doesn't want or need the spotlight because he's going to be in the spotlight no matter where he is has been written about before. But, the idea that LeBron seeks refuge and cover in Akron hasn't been brought up that often. In New York or LA, LeBron would immediately have to deal with paparazzi and 24/7 coverage of his every move. Here, no one follows him. Everyone protects him. That sort of bubble, that sort of safety and privacy has got to be a powerful force, especially for someone who values his family and friends as much as LeBron does.