One week from today, LeBron James returns to Cleveland… and Cleveland is ready.
The fans have prepped their voices and insults, and the Cavaliers and Cleveland police are ready to make sure it stops right there. Chris Broussard at ESPN detailed the plans:
To ensure James’ safety, there will be dozens of extra police officers on hand, both uniformed and undercover. Officers will be stationed inside and outside the arena, and many will be positioned by the Heat bench and at the tunnel where the Heat players will enter the court.
“Honestly, I’m a little bit afraid,” one member of the Cavs organization said. “Some people don’t care. Their mentality is ‘‘I’ve got to get this off my chest.’ There’s so much negative energy around this game. People aren’t excited about the game itself. They’re just like, ‘‘I can’t wait to do something.'”
The team has done research on the various crude and offensive James T-shirts in circulation locally, and officials will be stationed at entrances to make sure no fans enter with such shirts or signs that disrespect James or his family members. They’ll also be in the stands, authorized to take away inappropriate apparel. Fans who have such shirts will be required to remove them and then will be given a Cavaliers-branded T-shirt to wear instead. All inappropriate signs also will be confiscated and officials will be on the lookout throughout the game for inebriated fans or fans who are preparing to throw things onto the court.
Maybe it’s the tryptophan talking, but I have high hopes that the people of Cleveland are not going to go way over the top; that cooler heads will prevail. There will be yelling and booing and some well-crafted words (and some not-so-well-crafted words), but hopefully, that’s where fans will draw the line.
At the end of the day, it’s basketball. The people of Cleveland have genuinely important things to be thankful for and to be concerned about, and LeBron isn’t one of them.