- Associated Press - Thursday, December 2, 2010

CLEVELAND (AP) - First came “The Decision.”

Now comes “The Derision.”

A city’s anger toward LeBron James has been gathering like storm clouds over Lake Erie for five solid months. The locals burned his jerseys, tacked his likeness to dart boards, pulled down his 10-story tall portrait off the side of a building across from Quicken Loans Arena and luxuriated in each and every one of the Miami Heat’s eight losses so far this season.

And that was just the buildup to the return of Ohio’s least favorite son, this time as a member of the Miami Heat.

Meanwhile, a video in which NBA great Michael Jordan delivers the most stinging rebuke of James yet continued to make the rounds, with few people knowing whether it was a real commercial or a fake. It’s a mash-up of a recent Nike ad featuring James asking “What Should I Do?” interspersed with cuts from several previous commercials made by Jordan.

It’s so professionally produced, all the way down to the logos, that Jordan felt compelled to say Thursday, “I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Nike had absolutely nothing to do with it.

“I didn’t even know about it,” he said in a telephone interview from Chicago. “until one of my kids sent it to me.”

In the viral version, Jordan is heard saying that no matter how easy he made it look to those who, like James, are trying to walk in his footsteps, it wasn’t anything but that. The video switches back and forth between clips from the James commercial to clips of Jordan’s statue outside the United Center in Chicago, a blackboard listing his workout routine, a weight room and several other Jordan haunts.

It ends, powerfully, with Jordan’s saying on camera, “Maybe you’re just making excuses,” then finishes with the words “Become Legendary” in white letters on a black screen with the Jordan logo on the bottom.

All the attention focused on James‘ return was proof of how hype begets even more hype. People here have gotten over the fact that James left. What outrages them is how they found out, by watching the first third of a self-serving, hourlong infomercial.

That’s why there will be plenty of extra cops in the vicinity of the arena hours ahead of the 8:17 p.m. EST tipoff. The Cavaliers’ front office has been purposefully vague about what fans will be allowed to wear, scribble on signs or even say once they step inside.

Nothing “vulgar, obscene or profane.” Everything else, apparently is good.

But after the team’s morning shootaround, Cavs coach Byron Scott warned about underestimating the fans’ creativity. He played for the Lakers, Pacers and Grizzlies, but when asked about the most contentious rivalry, he rolled his eyes and replied, ‘C’mon man.”

The brief pause left no doubt. He was talking about venturing into Boston Garden wearing the hated purple, gold and white of the Lakers.

“It got bad enough to where they were mooning our wives,” he said, breaking into a grin, “I hope it doesn’t get that bad.”



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