September 2, 2014

Elyria
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Fans still seething months after ‘The Decision’

ELYRIA — Fans seem to still be angry about the way LeBron James left Cleveland and most expect his first appearance back in Cleveland for tonight’s game against the Miami Heat to be met with hostility.

Tony Knapp, 44, of Elyria, said even if James wanted to come back and play for Cleveland he wouldn’t be accepted.

“I’ve got a bad feeling because he sucked the way he did things when he left here,” Knapp said. “He didn’t put things out front like he should have. I hope they shut him out and put him down to the bottom where he needs to be right now.”

Joyce Miller, 54, of Lorain, said she’s hoping for the Cleveland Cavaliers to win and for James to fail.

“I was a big fan of LeBron but not anymore,” Miller said. “I think what he did was very self-centered. I think he’s very full of himself and I hope they lose big time when they come to Cleveland.”

Demetrius Johnson, 30, of Lorain, is also angry but said he’s a Cavs fan above all else. He’s not optimistic about James’ reception.

“I think the fans will be very aggressive,” Johnson predicted. “I’m a Cavs fan, not a LeBron James fan. As long as the Cavs pull a win at home against Miami — that’s enough justice right there.”

Natasha Velez, 28, of Lorain, said she doesn’t hold a grudge against James for leaving, just against the way he went about announcing it.

She, too, would love to see the Heat defeated.

“If the Cavs win it will be one of the greatest wins we can have at Cleveland,” Velez said. “We don’t need a superstar, we need the fans behind us.”

Jason Cox, 40, of Cleveland, expects James to be met with hostility.

“It’s just a travesty what he did to the team,” Cox said. “There will be stuff thrown on the court. I’d like to see the Cavs kick their a– but we just have to be the bigger team. Being fans of Cleveland, we’re better than LeBron James and what he represents. I’m just going to continue to support our team.”

Tanya Boczek, 55, of Elyria, said she expected to see James leave, but hated the way he did it. She also hopes Cleveland fans will contain their anger.

“But now, I almost feel sorry for him because it’s all crumbing around him,” Boczek said. “I hope to God Cleveland doesn’t embarrass itself again on TV by throwing something at him. Somewhere in there is still that Akron boy and it would be nice to see (James) act like it.”

John Hickey, 46, of Avon Lake, said he’s been glad to see the Miami Heat struggling so far this season.

“LeBron coming back — I think the Cleveland fans will support their team,” Hickey said. “The LeBron aura will be stuck in Miami. Miami thought they’d have unimaginable success and be head and shoulders above everyone else and they’re a midlevel team.”

Linda Vrbancic, 63, of Lorain, said James probably knows exactly the kind of reception he’ll get from Cleveland fans.

“It was an eventuality that he was going to show up one way or the other and I think he knows what to expect when he gets here,” Vrbancic said. “He’s probably expecting a lot of negative attention, but I think the Cleveland fans would be better off ignoring him.”

Connie Ross, 25, of Elyria, thinks ignoring him may be too much to ask because everyone is still very bitter about the way James announced his move to Florida.

“I think it’s gonna be brutal, ruthless and with no mercy,” Ross said of fans’ reactions when James takes the court. “I was hoping we could be the bigger person, but I don’t think that’s going to happen for Cleveland.”

Contact Alicia Castelli at 329-7155 or acastelli@chroniclet.com.