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Pens' Rupp awaited the word on LeBron

| Friday, July 9, 2010

Mike Rupp had waited a long time for the television program he planned to watch Thursday night.

"My favorite show is 'Big Brother,' and I was excited to watch that at 8 p.m.," said Rupp, the Penguins' Cleveland-born forward. "I (was) worried I (would) be turning the channel at 9 p.m. for the big letdown."

Rupp was not alone among Northeastern Ohioans to spend the past week hanging on every report about LeBron James, the Akron-born NBA superstar who announced his future home in a one-hour special on ESPN. James opted for the Miami Heat.

The potential for heartache regarding James' decision weighed on Rupp's mind leading up to yesterday. He planned to watch the special from his home in Erie.

No Cleveland pro sports team has won a title since the Browns' 1964 NFL championship. James led the Cavaliers to the NBA's best regular-season record in consecutive seasons — but not the NBA Finals — before hitting free agency this summer.

Rupp awoke yesterday to reports that James would join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a terrific triumvirate with the Heat. Miami, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Los Angeles or Cleveland — Rupp was ready for whichever direction James decided on, though he didn't sound convincing when he declared he would be "shocked" if James left.

Rupp was convinced the so-called King James Sweepstakes had gone on a bit too long.

"There's been just too much hype about it ... for a couple of years now," he said. "Nobody can say they'd be shocked, because we've heard everything. I'm not like this before a game, so it's weird for me to be apprehensive about what an athlete will say. All I know is, I'll be glad he finally said something.

"It's been emotionally draining for Clevelanders because our history is to expect a letdown. We don't have Franco Harris making a miracle catch and scoring the touchdown, you know."

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