Mar 18, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) reacts in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The 10 most controversial athletes to play for the Cleveland Browns, Indians and Cavaliers.
Clevelanders love sports, and usually the athletes who are suiting up for the Cleveland Browns, Indians or Cavaliers. If a particular athlete excels while exhibiting talent, grit and hustles, there’s no shortage of fans waiting to heap hero worship on the town’s latest hero.
But not all the players to come through town have endeared themselves to Cleveland fans. Sure there have been heroes, but there’s been plenty of scamps, too.
Through the years, many athletes have come and gone, but these 10 players proved to be the most controversial.
1. LeBron James
Sure, he’s beloved now, but it wasn’t that way between 2010-2014, when James was winning NBA championships with the Miami Heat.
After being drafted No. 1 overall during the 2003 NBA Draft, Cavs’ fans envisioned James taking Michael Jordan‘s throne atop the NBA world while delivering title after title to championship-starved Cleveland.
Instead, LeBron “took his talents to South Beach” where he learned how to become a winner, therby cementing himself as the greatest player of his era.
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But James’ decision to broadcast his decision to leave the Cavaliers on national television still sticks in the craw of some Cleveland sports fans. Big-time free agents have left Cleveland before, and James won’t be the last, but publicly embarrassing the city alongside Jim Gray on ESPN took James to another level.
After four years in south Florida, LeBron shockingly returned home, but there are still some fans that harbor a grudge against James for leaving. To some, he’ll always be a traitor that decided to return to a more favorable situation when James’ Heat team had their window close with a loss to the Spurs in the 2013-2014 NBA Finals.
James admitted that the “The Decision” show was a mistake, and he stated his case for returning in his famous Sports Illustrated letter.
But if you want controversial? If you want polarizing? That’s James–and how he’s viewed by the rabid Cleveland fan base.
Next: Johnny Manziel