Who says you can’t go home again?

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By John Shindlebower

Who says you can’t go home again?
LeBron James is hoping to prove that old adage wrong with his announced return to Cleveland and his native northern Ohio.
Not quite as dramatic as his televised “decision” a few years ago when he had the collective sports world holding its breath as he announced where he was taking his basketball talents, this announcement was a bit more low key in production.
I’m still not sure what to make of LeBron James. He became a household name while still in high school. His fame overshadowed any team success his prep school achieved, and before rules were changed to force players to attend at least one year of college, he jumped straight to the NBA and has been a superstar ever since.
No doubt he’s one of the most amazing athletes on Earth. And he’s one of the most skilled basketball players to ever hit the court. He’s extremely confident but manages to escape the label of being nauseatingly arrogant.
More impressively, despite the instant fame and wealth at such a young age, he’s managed to avoid many of the traps other players fall into. As far as I know, James has kept his off-the-court troubles and drama to a bare minimum. He seems to be a likable guy, a decent teammate and appreciative of the fans. It’s hard to hate a guy like that, but plenty of folks do.
Perhaps it stems from his live televised production of his breakup with the Cleveland Cavaliers a few seasons ago. Any breakup is painful, but to have it done in front of the world and with a smile on your face can rub folks the wrong way.
Plenty of folks in Cleveland were understandably hurt and upset. Cavalier fans took to the streets to burn his jersey, while others took to the airwaves to rant without restriction. Even the Cavalier ownership took to the pages of the local newspaper in a full-page ad to take shots at James and his choice to leave his home.
However, all that has apparently been forgiven. James wants to return and make things right with the home folks. I’m not rooting for or against him. I have no beef with James and it could be a great story of reconciliation and forgiveness. James has stated his desire to be a role model for kids growing up near his hometown. He certainly has that opportunity and here’s hoping he makes the most of it.
It’s over. The month-long celebration of the world’s most popular sport came to an end Sunday with Germany the victor. There will be a big push now for Americans to continue to embrace soccer as professional play resumes and even Louisville is getting its own team. The game will continue to be popular in the youth ranks, and for many good reasons. I simply don’t think it’s going to fill stadiums and be must-see television for most Americans. We simply like a little more exciting brand of football. Germany scored seven points in their semi-final win over Brazil and it was considered a historic rout. Score seven points in our Super Bowl and you’re likely to be on the wrong end of a historic rout.
Congratulations to Brandy Scott, the new head basketball coach of the Spencer County Lady Bears. The program has struggled in recent years despite good efforts by good coaches. Perhaps Coach Scott can breathe new life into the program. One of the most important parts of her job will be to create a program in which young girls will dream about playing for the Lady Bears one day. Getting young players excited about the game early on will only enhance their development and their desire. I don’t think the struggles at Spencer County have been for a lack of heart, effort or coaching - but rather a drought of significant experience and talent. Get young girls excited about the program, and that’s a problem that can disappear in a few short years. Good luck to Coach Scott!
This is considered the slowest week in sports. Baseball takes a breather to celebrate the All-Star Game and there just isn’t a lot going on until the second half of the Major League season heats back up on Thursday.
It’s been an exciting month for myself and fellow Reds fans. We’ve watched Cincinnati tread water for much of the first half of the season as they dealt with a number of injuries. Led by stellar starting pitching, the Reds were able to win enough games to stay in contention. Slowly, the roster began to get healthy and the Reds went on a roll. Today at the break, they stand only one and a half games out of first place. They’ve suffered a couple of more setbacks however, as the right side of their infield will be missing for a few weeks. First baseman Joey Votto is back on the DL with that nagging leg injury, and second baseman Brandon Phillips is sidelined for a few weeks after surgery on his thumb.
While I enjoy football and I’ve soured a bit on college basketball, baseball is the game I love. Having my Reds in contention and playing well makes for an entertaining summer.