|Review by Dean Galanis|
A brief (just under an hour in length) but very engaging documentary about LeBron James’ leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat in 2010, Losing LeBron examines not only Cleveland’s reaction to the move, but the psychology of a city’s sports fans coping with the fact that none of their three professional sports franchises has won a championship in 50 years.
Losing LeBron follows a handful of fans during the first season after LeBron’s leaving. A stand-up comedian, a sports writer, a father and his grown son just trying to make ends meet, a doctor, etc. all weigh in on The Decision. The film examines – and provides an explanation – early on how even that title of LeBron’s ESPN live special, which featured LeBron’s announcement, was not only obviously arrogant and ludicrously egotistical, but also a cruel slap in the face to a city with a history of horrible sports moments, many of them perfect examples of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
Somewhat surprisingly, some Clevelanders don’t begrudge LeBron’s decision at all, figuring he wants success, has the talent to achieve it, and feels the need to be in the place where this success has the best chance to occur. Others don’t begrudge his choice, but are angry about the way he went about it.
But, as expected, most of the Cavs fans on display here are sickened and crushed by the move. There’s a “shred your LeBron jersey” event for charity, one fan is seen wearing a jersey with LeBron’s old number 23 but with the word “Judas” across the back, etc.
It’s easy to see why these fans felt so betrayed; many of them lead humdrum lives, sports being their main outlet for release. Many take a perverse pride in holding season tickets every year, even with the knowledge that the teams will probably suck; they feel they’re “true” fans because they suffer through season after season. But it’s obvious they were pinning their hopes for a Cavs championship on LeBron.
While there could have been further exploration of some of its themes, at 59 mins, Losing LeBron doesn’t wear out its welcome, and doesn’t feel incomplete. A slight but solid doc, Losing LeBron is a must for diehard sports fans, especially those from cities with long droughts between championships.