LeBron's out-of-town loyalties rub some Cleveland fans wrong

Updated: September 9, 2008, 10:15 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James may raise the ire of local fans by wearing a New York Yankees cap or cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, but another of the city's biggest sports stars isn't bothered by the NBA icon's out-of-town loyalties.

As far as Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards is concerned, James can root, root, root for any team he wishes.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James & Pacman Jones
AP Photo/Mark DuncanLeBron James and new Cowboy Adam "Pacman" Jones share a moment on the sidelines before Dallas took on the Browns in Cleveland.

"I give him credit for being loyal," Edwards said Tuesday.

On Sunday, James, who last season showed up at an Indians playoff game against New York sporting a Yankees cap, was on Dallas' sideline during pregame warmups before the Browns' season opener against the Cowboys. In full view of Browns players, James, again wearing the Yankees cap and a blue-and-silver T-shirt, chatted with Dallas owner Jerry Jones and hugged Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens and cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones.

James has pledged an allegiance to America's Team since he was a kid.

"It didn't bother me," Edwards said. "As I've gotten to know LeBron, LeBron isn't a Cleveland guy. LeBron only plays for the Cavaliers, and who knows if he even likes the Cavaliers? He doesn't like the Indians. He doesn't like the Browns. He's a guy from Akron who likes everybody but his hometown.

"I don't know how that's possible, but it is what it is, and he is who he is. You know, it's LeBron."

Some Cleveland fans have had it with James' antics and a few of them were heard screaming so at the Cavs' All-Star, who helped the U.S. Olympic basketball team win a gold medal in Beijing last month.

James has been labeled traitorous for his affection for non-Cleveland sports teams. He also grew up rooting for the Chicago Bulls.

In Tuesday's Plain Dealer, columnist Phillip Morris questioned James' decision to flaunt his affinity for other teams any chance he gets.

"Does Cavaliers superstar James really hate Cleveland that much?" Morris asked. "Does the anointed one really think we're all a bunch of losers? If not, why does No. 23 go out of his way to show his disdain for professional sports teams in Cleveland that don't involve rims and orange balls?

"It makes you wonder whether he really likes you. I suppose it could be worse: He could be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. But that sort of nonsense would make his life difficult in Cleveland. I guess we have no choice but to count our blessings and simply celebrate our Yankee-loving-Cowboy-hugging-global icon until he divorces us and takes his game somewhere else."

James has two years remaining on a contract extension he signed with the Cavaliers in July 2006. His affection for New York has prompted speculation that he intends to sign with either the Knicks or the New Jersey Nets, who are partly owned by his good friend, rap mogul Jay-Z.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press