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THE WHORE OF AKRON by Scott Raab

THE WHORE OF AKRON

One Man's Search for the Soul of LeBron James

By Scott Raab

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-206636-7
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

An embittered, lifelong Cleveland fan chronicles the painful departure of LeBron James from the Cavaliers, taking stock of his own life in the process.

Among long-suffering fan bases, Cleveland sports fans can make a legitimate claim to the top spot. With no championships to celebrate since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964 (in the pre–Super Bowl era), they have suffered an ignominious procession of near misses and heartbreaking defeats in football, baseball and basketball. When James, perhaps the most physically gifted basketball player ever to grace the hardwood—and a native son from nearby Akron to boot—was drafted by the Cavaliers in 2003, all of that miserable history seemed likely to end. Unfortunately for Esquire writer Raab (Real Hollywood Stories: Inside the Minds of 20 Celebrities, With One A-list Writer, 2008) and his tortured brethren, the next seven years would bring only more pain, with James leading the Cavs to only one NBA Finals appearance, where they came up short. In the summer of 2010, the King took his talents to South Beach, and the author decided to take matters into his own hands, chronicling the now-hated icon’s quest to win a championship with the Miami Heat. Raab hurls intricate helixes of epithet-laden invective at James, though each profane outburst feels less cathartic than it should (the book’s title comes from one such verbal haymaker launched on Twitter). Instead, it’s the author’s blunt evaluation of his own life—including his battles with alcohol, drugs, weight and relationship problems—that resonates as a mirror for Cleveland’s own festering decay and constant struggle. Unlike Cleveland, though, Raab can take solace in the fact that he finally found a good woman and fathered a son, championship victories denied his beloved Cleveland—that, and the fact that James failed in his first attempt to win a championship in Miami.

The vitriol wears thin, but sharp writing makes this a worthwhile read for fans who know Cleveland’s pain.