Scott Raab and LeBron James: This Time, It’s Personal

Photo: Ken Allison

If you ever watch old tapes of David Letterman, I strongly commend to you the shows from 1993, when Letterman was in the process of being rejected for the Tonight Show at NBC, but hadn’t yet signed his big deal at CBS. Inside, he was miserable.

On camera, he was never funnier.

So it is with Scott Raab’s new book “The Whore of Akron.”

Raab gives full throat to the sorrow of Cleveland sports fans and their endless drought. No baseball championships since 1948. No football championships since 1964. Scott Raab knows. He was there. Now he brandishes his ticket stub like his personal splinter from the True Cross. No basketball championships since ever.

LeBron James was going to change that with the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. More to the point, as a local, he was supposed to understand it was his responsibility to change that. And when he didn’t, not only spurning Cleveland for Miami, but doing it in a particularly douchey way, with the hour on ESPN and all, he ignited the righteous fire of Scott Raab on behalf of all Cleveland sports fans.

And Raab is not a forgiving guy. Among those he cannot pardon are former Cavs’ general manager Danny Ferry; Art Modell, who pried the Browns loose from Cleveland and took them to Baltimore; Jose Mesa, who blew the save that would have won the World Series for the Indians and ended the drought in 1997; the Miami Heat press rep who won’t credential Raab, an Esquire Magazine veteran, for the games. Or Scott’s mother, guilty of indifferent parenting.

The Whore of Akron is a sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant rant about the meaning of home and loyalty.

Along the way, Raab leaves us to discover the irony that his passion for Cleveland is practiced at a distance – that he himself left decades ago and today walks among us in Glen Ridge. And he generously gives the book’s central revelation to the comedian Chris Rock: what young man wouldn’t leave Cleveland for Miami if he could?

Author Scott Raab

I am told that before the Great Betrayal, Raab’s original commission was to write about LeBron leading Cleveland sports fans out of the darkness. That would have been a very different book, one that might find that even if Cleveland has progressed beyond its “Crooked River Burning” days, the pride of championships doesn’t quite compensate for the long twilight of declining industry and falling population.

As it is, we follow him to the NBA finals, where (spoiler alert!), to Raab’s delight, Miami falls to Dallas and James is particularly awful at the end.

It’s cold comfort, rooting against someone.

But it’s better than no comfort al all.


Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.


  1. This feels so 18 months ago.

    And really, the guy gave (“HELLO”) Cleveland a lot, just not a championship. For that he’s like Pat Ewing. But for some reason folks in (“HELLO”) Cleveland get to call King James a whore?(Which, jokes aside, is offensive and unnecessary- unless one wants to sell books, I guess…).

    Well, at least (“HELLO”) Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Funny though, I don’t remember (“HELLO”) Cleveland getting mad when its Induction Ceremony was held in New York.

    I guess it’s easier to hate and call of the rich Black kid names, than those who honor Dylan.

  2. Prof, as someone who actually knows Scott, I can say that he’s smart, funny, interesting, and most significantly…a good guy. So far, I’ve never heard anyone say anything remotely like that about you.

    Have you actually read the book?

  3. I love Raab’s writing, so I’m going to pick this up. Consistently funny, with a very good ear.

    And I imagine the “whore” in the title is a play on the whore of babylon, but that might be a little too esoteric for our dear prof.

  4. The douchey way of raising millions of dollars for the boys and girls clubs, eh?

    What was douchey was that he didn’t tell the GMs from the teams before announcing.

  5. Lets start with the broad perspectives on why Lebron left;

    Cleveland MSA population compared to Miami-Dade County
    Winner Miami

    Cleveland MSA average income compared to Miami-Dade County
    Winner Miami

    Cleveland MSA marketing/advertising/exposure abilities compared to Miami-Dade County
    Winner Miami

    Lebron James was 24/25 years old when he made the move. What single high profile wealthy man would choose to live in Cleveland over Miami- NONE, if they had a choice.

    Now lets look at the players on the 2009/10 Cavs
    Daniel Gibson
    Danny Green
    J.J. Hickson
    Zydrunas Ilgauskas
    Cedric Jackson
    Darnell Jackson
    LeBron James
    Antawn Jamison
    Coby Karl
    Jamario Moon
    Shaquille O’Neal
    Anthony Parker
    Leon Powe
    Sebastian Telfair Varejao
    Delonte West
    Jawad Williams
    Mo Williams

    No name players or players over the hill who were just trying to ride Lebron’s coat tails to the finals.

    Most people know why Lebron left, Bosh and Wade. Those two players are better than all of the players on 2009/10 Cavs team combined(Minus Lebron)

    If ownership at the Cavs had really wanted to win, they would have surrounded Lebron with something, not a bunch a B- college athletes and a dying Shaq/Illgauskas combo!

    And do not get me started on the Browns football organization. The NY Giants have a third string WR that is better than their #1.

  6. @ dane, so that’s how it works, you have to “actually know” someone to comment? Please.

    But your knee-jerk reaction to my comment is telling, in that I didn’t comment on Raab. Just that the whole L’affaire Lebron is so, well played out and old.

    That you took that as some sort of slight at Mr. Raab is on you.

    But to answer your question, NO! I haven’t read the book, won’t buy the book and don’t care cuz I hate basketball! I’d happily watch a Hockey game over basketball, for reals, I’d rather do most anything than waste my time with b-ball.

  7. Pass. I only have so many hours to live. The idea of wasting 6 or 7 nonsense like this doesn’t do much for me. So 18 months ago would be kind. The fact that this is even taken up 30 seconds of my life is sad.

Comments are closed.