Lebron Raymone James was born and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Akron. The cold winters and struggling economy of Cleveland didn’t bode well as an attractive location for free agents of professional sports teams. It became rumored for 52 years that the city dubbed “The Mistake on the Lake” would be forever cursed in its professional sports teams.
The Indians were cursed by The Catch by Willie Mays in the 1954 World Series and some guy named Rocky Colavito. The Cleveland Browns were repeatedly cursed by mishaps known as The Fumble and The Drive which ultimately led to The Move to Baltimore before finally rejoining the NFL several years later as a lowly expansion team.
And then there was just a kid from Akron who happened to be the second coming of Michael Jordan, and he made an infamous move called The Decision which would take The Chosen One to Miami to gain rings while Cleveland struggled to rebuild through the draft lottery.
Ultimately, the Prodigal Son returned and there was much rejoicing in the land. After two years of talk about The Curse, Lebron finally broke the 52 year drought by coming back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the record 73 win Golden State Warriors in Game 7 with an emphatic chase down block that would and to his legendary status.
How does this relate to Utah? The Jazz have never won a championship. Free agents for the most part don’t want to come here in their prime. If Dominique Wilkins hadn’t been so adamant about not playing in Utah, the Jazz might have beaten MJ with their own Big 3 of Stockton, Malone and Wilkins. The Jazz aren’t LA, Boston or South Beach Miami. They are a well run small town organization that has gotten close but never won the chip.
Stockton and Malone have statues outside the Vivint Smart Home Arena in memory of their two Western Conference Titles. Imagine how the winner of the first NBA championship in Salt Lake City will be revered. The city might need to be renamed after that Finals MVP.
Since players like that aren’t coming here in their prime, the Jazz would do well to search for some talented Utah kid. Many of them have come out of Lone Peak high school such as the Emery and Haws brothers but they have mostly been European sensations.
Jimmer Fredette was the closest thing to being a hometown hero. Even though he hailed from New York, he starred as a Player of the Year for BYU in Provo Utah. Jimmer mania hit an all time high when he made it to the NBA but after struggling in the best basketball organization in the world, he went to a second tier level and took Jimmermania to China, where he now is a league leading scorer on the Shanghai sharks.
With BYU star center Eric Mika officially declaring for The NBA draft and Frank Jackson declaring as well despite a recent injury, it appears that just a kid from Alpine Utah will need to be the first hometown superstar to lead the Jazz to a championship. With several late first round picks perhaps this will be the year that the Jazz don’t pass on the hometown heroes and give them the shot that Jimmer never had.