With ESPN handing over an hour of airtime to LeBron James tonight, ESPN’s Shelley Smith reported on the same network this afternoon that in advance of the James-ESPN production “fear has given way to a rising anger” among Clevelanders and “there could be violence tonight” throughout the city.
Smith added that Cleveland police have bolstered downtown patrols in anticipation of any violence that could erupt in response to events playing out on the James-ESPN show.
James apparently foresaw what Smith is now reporting, having hired extra police officers to guard his Bath, Ohio, mansion in just the past week. More recently, today Bath police blocked off the street where James lives in anticipation of the LeBron-ESPN show.
Hard to believe that there would be civil unrest in Cleveland if James announced he was leaving to join the Heat. But knowing the way James has handled the decision, including the ESPN show that was first formulated on June 6 by the James camp, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.
In advance of the LeBron-ESPN show, the CLEVELAND LEADER news outlet has suggested a massive “LeBronfire” in which Clevelanders would burn their Cavaliers gear if James announces on ESPN his intention to depart the city.
Tom Withers, an ASSOCIATED PRESS Sports Writer based in Cleveland, tweeted Thursday afternoon from Cleveland:
Based on my conversations, there is either going to be an all-time party in Cleveland tonight or a riot.
Doesn’t sound promising that there wouldn’t be a significant level of civil unrest and possible criminal activity if James does indeed elect to announce on ESPN tonight that he’s leaving Cleveland.
As for ESPN facilitating a program that could cause civil unrest in Cleveland, apparently, the show must go on.