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I'm a business journalist and a fiction author. My novel Mute is available now from Silver Leaf Books.

Friday, July 11, 2014

What LeBron’s departure says about Miami

Beyond the sports and the economic impact of LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat, it says something significant about the way people view Miami.

In his Sports Illustrated article, LeBron said Miami was like a “college for other kids” and he’ll always think of Miami as a “second home.” His heart is in Northeast Ohio. That’s home.

No matter how much he won in Miami, no matter how much money he made here, no matter how much the Heat fans cheered him, no matter how much he enjoyed riding his bike outside in January (not as much fun in Cleveland), Miami was never LeBron’s home. It’s a place to party, to work, and to make money.

That would describe how  many people see Miami and, perhaps, the rest of South Florida. People can live here for decades and still feel allegiance to their home cities, or countries.

I’m not talking just about sports, which is obvious by all the New York Jets jerseys at Dolphins games. Whether it’s foreign politics, TV shows beamed in from other countries, or donating to far away causes, it seems that everyone in South Florida has their mind someplace else. They’re worried about Venezuela, Israel, Cuba, New York, but not what’s going on down the block.

So what if the streets flood with every afternoon shower, they're laying off cops and closing libraries? This isn't my town!

Part of Miami’s appeal is what’s fueling the condo boom. People love to have second homes here, like LeBron. They want to experience Miami, perhaps send their kids here for a few months or years. Win a few rings, buy and flip a few condos. Then it’s back home.

South Florida benefits financially from all of that for sure. But it’s not the same as having people who truly care about this place, who will spend time and money making it better and helping the people who really do call it home.

I have great (and not so great) memories of growing up on the Space Coast but Broward County is my home now. Besides, it’s not easy to root for the Orlando Magic these days, right?

Want to check out some of my sports fiction writing? Try my new short story Medical Martial Arts.

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