My buddies from college will tell you that I have been an optimist of the Cleveland Cavaliers since they met me in 1997. They used to roll their eyes at me right before every season when I would plaintively attempt to explain why a couple of new players were going to turn the fortunes of my home team. In those days, it was still conversations like, "Well, if Zydrunas can stay healthy with his feet… " or "The Cavs have Shawn Kemp and if he can get back to the form that he had in Seattle… " Clearly I was delusional, but I grew as a basketball fan. The only way to gain perspective is through experience.
After being forced to watch players like Wesley Person, Lamond Murray, Andrew Declercq, and Trajan Langdon — not to mention Robert Traylor (his third run through the league) and the one who talks about himself in the third person, Ricky Davis — I had gained an all new perspective. No matter how much I wanted the team to be good, it just was never going to happen. Journeyman after journeyman and bad draft pick after bad draft pick until there was a 17-win season. The roll of the dice came the Cavs' way and they finally had a draft pick that they seemingly couldn't screw up. Needless to say, after all that misfortune, I wasn't prepared for LeBron James. And really, who could blame me? The only way to gain perspective is through experience.
Now, since that 17 win season before LeBron James arrived in Cleveland, the Cavs have gone 35-47, 42-40, 50-32, 50-32. The last two seasons, the Cavs have made the playoffs. Last year they got knocked out in the second round by the Pistons. After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals this season, the Cavs promptly went down 0-2 to the Pistons and I thought that maybe this was just another learning experience on the way to being championship caliber.
And then something happened and the Cavs kept rolling all the way to beating the Detroit Pistons.
There is just no way that I could have been prepared for this. When I look back through all the times and players I watched, it blows me away. Mike Fratello coached players ridiculously far above their own heads by slowing games down into 70-point to 65-point bore-fests. Promising players like Terrell Brandon, and eventually Andre Miller were surrounded by guys snatched from the NBA graveyard of cut lists. The Cavs were so unpopular at points during that time period that my company would send out an email offering up the loge to whoever was willing to go down to watch the Cavs. I would go to those games and there would only be four people in the loge.
But those times are all gone now. The LeBron James experience is happening right now and I can't look at my past experiences for any kind of perspective on what is going on right now. I have determined that it is just unbelievable special and I am going to have to go with that. This Cavs team has blown away expectations already and it will take a long time to sink in. The bottom line is that, thanks to LeBron James and these Cleveland Cavaliers I am going to have to get used to gaining a lot of perspective at once, because they are giving us all one hell of an experience.Powered by Sidelines