Cleveland Sports History Riddled With Letdowns

Rose Stoloff, Sports Editor

In the last 15 years, Cleveland’s major sports teams have been blessed with a great number of high draft picks. Many of these top picks have brought more than just talent and potential to their teams; they’ve brought hope, excitement and the prospect of better times to a financially depressed city.  In reverse order, here are the three most promising, and ultimately disappointing, draft picks in modern Cleveland sports history.

1. Tim Couch, Quarterback – Cleveland Browns – 1999 – Round 1, Pick 1

“The Bust”

Couch was drafted number one overall after putting up incredible numbers at the University of Kentucky. At the time of his departure, he held NCAA records for completions in a season and career completion percentage. The people of Cleveland hoped Couch could spark the Browns’ offense and turn the team around. His chance came early, as he was given the starting job in only the second game of his rookie season. Couch held the job for the next four years, but never lived up to the high expectations the city and team had. His tenure was defined by injuries and poor play, and he is now considered one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history.

2. Penny Taylor, Center – Cleveland Rockers – 2001 – Round 1, Pick 11

“The Fizzle”

Before joining the Rockers, Taylor played in the Women’s National Basketball League, the highest level of basketball for women in Australia. As a member of the Dandenong Rangers, she led the league in scoring and steals in the 2000-2001 season. After joining the Rockers in 2001, Taylor helped the team reach the Conference semifinals in the 2001 and 2003 seasons. Unfortunately, just as the city of Cleveland saw a WNBA championship in sight, the team was disbanded.

3. LeBron James, Forward – Cleveland Cavaliers – 2003 – Round 1, Pick 1

“The Decision”

Lebron James joined the Cavaliers as the most hyped high school prospect in NBA history. “King” James didn’t disappoint, earning Rookie of the Year honors in his first season. Over the next seven seasons as a Cav, James solidified his standing as a superstar. He led the team to five playoff appearances and won numerous awards. He was Cleveland’s hero, but still hadn’t brought the city an NBA Championship. With the stinging letdowns of Penny Taylor and Tim Couch fresh in their minds, Clevelanders nervously awaited James’s 2010 free agency: Would LeBron stay loyal to his hometown team, or take his talents to another city? When the time finally came, James had no choice but to announce his decision during a live, primetime television broadcast. In the end, James betrayed the city that made him “King” and joined the Miami Heat.