Merry Quitness

Merry Quitness – My Book Review of The Whore Of Akron

After reading every word of Scott Raab’s 300-page book, The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search for the Soul of LeBron James, I find myself still questioning if I can relate or take at face value his extreme disdain for LeBron James and his multiple indiscretions and ultimately, The Decision.

Being from Virginia, a hometown loyalty to any team in sports is lost on me. As a state, we have no collective team (the Redskins surely don’t count, because they are the Washington Redskins, and more confusingly, their stadium is in Landover, Maryland). While that is in no way to say Virginians can’t be loyal fans, that whole “I live and die by Cleveland sport’s” mentality in which Raab bears is not something I can genuinely relate to. My loyalties to teams are as follows (and in order), the Philadelphia Eagles, the Texas Rangers (thanks to the 1993 Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura fight which proved to my father that sometimes fighting is a legitimate necessity), and yes, loyally amidst all the bandwagoners, I am a Miami Heat fan.

Before you continue reading, here is full disclosure in its purest form: I think Scott Raab is one hell of a writer. He’s one of the reasons I want my own byline in Esquire, hopefully very soon. I also love my Miami Heat (with or without King James), but as he leads my team to hopefully another run at the Championship (this time winning), I too, support him. After reading this in-depth view of Raab’s transparent hate for LeBron, it makes me want to personally alert a team of armed guards for LBJ’s protection, but as a sport’s fanatic myself, and one who relies heavily on the First Amendment, I can somewhat relate and surely appreciate.

Cleveland fans have had a rough go, easily summed up here: “It is forever fourth down and 98 yards to go here, the Broncos’ ball, with the Browns four minutes from their first Super Bowl; forever the ninth inning of Game 7, the Tribe leading by a run, three outs away from their first World Series win since 1948; forever the last second of Game 5 against the Bulls in 1989, with the Cavaliers up one and Michael Jordan with the ball.” Raab set out to write a book about the LeBron legacy, but like a drunk Snooki, things quickly changed. Raab had high hopes that LeBron would change all the negative and heartbroken hysteria highlighted above, but the second his “loyalty” hit ESPN, Raab and many other fans set out for revenge on King James. Or more accurately, the 3,600 seconds he plastered said loyalty over a supposed unbiased network.

There are many parts of this book I can’t relate to – the constant and lifelong heartache the Cleveland sport’s community feels, the infinite Jewish references, and the constant visual images of Raab asking for (or more commonly being offered) handjobs by his doting wife Lisa. No one has ever offered me a handjob (or asked for one) after watching LeBron post his fifteenth straight triple-double.

I like to think of myself as a loyal person, but it’s hard to put myself in LeBron’s Nikes. Sure, it would have been a storybook fairytale in any arena had he stayed with the Cavs and finally brought a ring to a city that so desperately needed and wanted it. But I ask myself, if I had a boyfriend of seven years who I loved dearly, but the chance to be with my girl crush Jessica Biel presented itself, would I remain loyal to said boyfriend? Ideally he’d be all for it and allow me to have both him and J. Biel, but things don’t quite work like that in the NBA. LeBron didn’t have the choice to stay loyal and get a ring. Or did he?

“Those Cleveland fans knew for the first time what utter fools they had been to believe that LeBron James ever gave a damn about anything but LeBron James.” One of Raab’s rants tackling an interview LeBron gave after his egotistical highlight, The Decision: “Maybe the ones burning my jersey were never LeBron fans anyway.” Raab brings up a supremely cogent point, which many young athletes as well as fans don’t get. It’s the whole rooting for laundry concept. You aren’t a fan of that particular player or even that jersey – “the names on the back of the jersey will change as the years go by.” Cleveland fans loved LeBron and rooted for him because he was on their team, not the other way around. LeBron was the first one-namer the town of Cleveland has ever recognized, but with no rings, perhaps it was all in vain.

But one question I still have: can you blame him?

Raab is spot-on when he calls LeBron, “A brand name with no more substance than a marketing plan to move shoes and soft drinks,” but sadly and truly, isn’t that what sports have become? Long gone are the days where loyal and respectable players like Craig Biggio, Walter Payton, Larry Bird, Cal Ripken Jr., David Robinson and Ryan Giggs abound. We are starting to see more and more King James’ across the leagues that have the ability to hold acronyms like ESPN and NBA by the balls since day one.

Raab reminds us as fans, your voice may be gone from screaming profanities and cheers in stadiums, arenas or your rocking chair at home, but your heart? Your heart should never be gone. Spoken like a true Cleveland native.

As it doesn’t look like Clevelanders will be getting any championships this Christmas, may I suggest this book as a damn fine consolation prize? Due to LeBron’s multiple playoff breakdowns, you can easily wrap the gift and label it “Merry Quitness” for sport’s fans everywhere. Yes, even Heat fans. Because if there’s one thing you can’t debate about King James, it’s his 4th quarter playoff disappearances.

Buy The Book.

Dear Raab,

Please continue to hang on to your Browns ticket stub from 1964 and I’ll hold on to this book you sent me with post-it flags and scribbled up margins, serving as reminders to us both for the hope and dreams we are each holding out for. You, that you and your city will once again see another Championship of some kind, and me, that being a sport’s writer letting it all hang out, may some day get me a book deal and notoriety that only true greats indeed accomplish.

Thanks again for the book. I do expect an autograph if we ever meet. 

This article was featured on Culture Map, Houston’s Daily Digital Magazine in the sport’s section.