Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

Congratulations to Brian Windhorst

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Full disclosure: it’s 8:04 in the morning my time and I’ve been up all night working on a presentation, so I won’t be able to do anything resembling justice to Brian Windhorst at the current moment.

Anyways, Brian Windhorst, along with Michael Wallace, Kevin Arnovitz (who, in the interest of fuller disclosure, has been my editor and immediate boss within the TrueHoop Network,  and Sebastian Martinez-Christensen), will be covering the Miami Heat next season as a part of ESPN.com’s “Heat Index” next season.

If you’ve followed the Cavaliers at all over the past several seasons, Brian Windhorst needs no introduction. He has established himself as one of the best and hardest-working beat writers in the country. His coverage of the Cavaliers has been even-handed, intelligent, and impossibly diligent. This man broke the Mo Williams trade while returning from the hospital. He will be dearly missed by Cleveland fans, but I’m certainly happy that Brian got this opportunity and wish him all the best in this endeavor.

Given ESPN’s role in “The Decision,” I can see how the launching of the “Heat Index” might not be the most welcome news around these parts, but I’ll say two quick things:

1. The interest in this Heat team is absolutely overwhelming. I can tell you that articles that mentioned LeBron or the Heat absolutely dominated all other articles in terms of comments over on NBC all summer long. Most articles get 1-5 comments; when LeBron says something, it’s not uncommon for 40-50 people to chime in. That’s admittedly an imperfect measure of interest, but I’m of the opinion that ESPN is reacting to a demand for news here rather than creating said demand.

2. I can tell you that this website will be good. We all know what Windhorst can do and how good he is at what he does. It would be impossible for me to overstate my opinion of Kevin Arnovitz. To put things simply, they would not be participating in this project and moving from Los Angeles/Cleveland to Miami if they didn’t believe in the project. If they are involved in a project, it will be both well-written and of a high journalistic standard.

I can also tell you that ESPN’s basketball section is extremely well-run. I’ve worked for a lot of websites, both big and small. From my experience, I can tell you that everyone I have had contact with at ESPN genuinely cares about the quality of the product they put out, journalistic ethics, and the well-being of the writers that work for them. My experience with ESPN has been an absolute highlight of my career, for reasons that have nothing to do with the exposure they have given me. Henry Abbott, Kevin Arnovitz, and the higher-ups in the basketball section care about what they do, what they write, and the people that write for them. I know that for a fact. Trust me, I am far too sleep-deprived to shill.

This is bad news for Cavalier fans who have gotten used to reading Mr. Windhorst’s coverage of the team over the course of his career. But it’s good news for him, and great news for everyone who will be looking for great coverage of one of the most fascinating and polarizing basketball teams in recent memory. Once again, congratulations and good wishes to Brian and Kevin.

Here are the new Cavs uniforms

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

If the above picture isn’t working for you, head over to the team’s official site for a look. I like ‘em — kind of an old-school flair to them, but clean and modern-looking as well. Hopefully this means the Cavs won’t be wearing 2,000 different jerseys over the course of next season.

Here’s the 2010-11 Cavaliers schedule

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Enjoy it while you can: http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/schedule/

Your Rashad McCants Update

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

As some of you may know, Rashad McCants was on the Cavs’ Summer League Roster. You may also know that Rashad did not show up for Summer League. After talking to Rashad’s agent and the team, here’s what I know about what happened:

-Rashad was supposed to show up for Summer League and was expected to be there. His mother, a breast cancer survivor, became ill, and Rashad decided that being with her and her family was more important than being there for Summer League. According to his agent, Rashad informed the Cavalier personnel in charge of picking the Summer League team that he would not be attending, and they were very supportive of his decision. The team corroborated this version of events.

-Some of the Summer League coaches, who were not involved in the team-selection process, were confused as to Rashad’s whereabouts during Summer League. When I asked Byron Scott about McCants before the weekend, he told me that he had been made aware of Rashad’s situation before.

-The Cavaliers told me that their experience with Rashad has been a positive one.

-There was some initial confusion over whether Rashad planned to show up late to Summer League and play the last game or two with the Cavaliers; whether that was Rashad’s plan or not, it was not an option Byron Scott was interested in pursuing when I spoke to him. In any case, Rashad always planned on being in Las Vegas this week to work out with Tim Grgurich.

That’s the extent of what I know about this situation. If it really was just a big miscommunication, I hope he gets another chance to prove that he can be an NBA player both on and off the court.

Delonte West pleads guilty to weapons charges

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Here’s the report, courtesy of the AP:

In Prince George’s County Circuit Court, Judge Graydon McKee sentenced West to eight months of electronic monitoring, two years of unsupervised probation, 40 hours of community service and psychological counseling.
Accompanied by his mother, girlfriend and uncle in court, West told Judge McKee he was ashamed.
He said he has been “put on a pedestal” because he can “dribble a basketball,” and worries about letting down youth who look up to athletes.
Authorities said the basketball player was carrying two loaded handguns, a loaded shotgun and an 8½-inch Bowie knife while speeding on a three-wheel motorcycle on the Capital Beltway last September. Police said West, who lives in Brandywine, Md., was pulled over after cutting off an officer.
West’s attorney said the player had the weapons because he was transporting them from one home to another that he owns in the county, after his mother ordered him to remove them from one property.

Glad that Delonte didn’t end up in jail. He’ll almost certainly be waived, and a possible suspension could make it harder for him to get a contract from another team. Delonte can really play, but I worry if the fallout from this will keep him from getting back to the level he was at during the 08-09 season. I hope it doesn’t, because he’s everything you want a basketball player to be when his head is in the right place and he has a franchise who supports him.

Windhorst: Ilgauskas to sign with the Heat

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

According to Brian Windhorst, Zydrunas Ilgauskas will join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in Miami next season.

Miami gets the center they needed, although I do think they would have wanted a more athletic center who could allow them to get out on the break a bit more. Still, Ilgauskas can defend the rim, finish around the basket, doesn’t do many stupid things, and will be a great locker-room presence for them.

It’ll be tough not seeing Ilgauskas on the roster, but I respect his decision. Ilgauskas has given everything and more to the Cavalier franchise, and he deserves a shot at that elusive ring. The best player to ever wear a Cavalier uniform left on Thursday; one of the greatest Cavaliers ever left today. Best of luck to Zydrunas in all his future endeavors, and hopefully we will see him come back to the Cavaliers for one more run before his jersey gets raised to the rafters.

LeBron James: The Golden Boy No More

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I got most of what I wanted to say about LeBron’s departure out of the way last night (I assumed he was leaving), so I don’t think I need to say all that much more here.

That said, here’s my post-decision LeBron piece for Pro Basketball Talk, which does cover some new ground about LeBron’s future.

Here’s the link: http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/07/lebron-james-the-golden-boy-no-more.php

Let me know what you guys think. I’ve gotta get to packing, because tomorrow morning I go to Vegas to cover the Summer League. It should be fun, so try and sleep well. This blog isn’t going anywhere, and I promise we’re going to continue having fun talking Cavs and talking basketball. Until tomorrow, everyone.

LeBron James Signs With The Miami Heat

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

LeBron James will officially join Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade on the Miami Heat next season. Best of luck to LeBron and the Heat in all their future endeavors.

LeBron Decision Open Thread

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

LeBron Draft Day

It won’t be long now. Most people think it will be Miami, but nothing’s etched in stone just yet. There’s not much more to say at this point — it’s time to just sit back and watch it happen. I’ll be live-blogging the festivities with the Daily Dime Live crew, so head over there to participate in the fun, or hang out here if you want. Check back here immediately after the announcement for some analysis.

We Are All Witnesses

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Witness Poster

We Are All Witnesses. We all know the slogan. We all know where we’ve seen it. We all know who it refers to. Do we know what it means?

Think about that slogan/saying/motto/mantra/whatever for a little bit. Think about what it makes the “we” in question, and think about what it does not make us. We are not LeBron James’ family. We are not LeBron James’ friends. We are not part-owners of LeBron James, nor do we hold shares of him. We are not LeBron James’ bosses or employees. We are not his defenders or his prosecutors. We are not his judge or jury. We Are All Witnesses. We have all watched.

Cleveland owned the Browns long before Art Modell bought them, took them, and moved them. Likewise, Cleveland owned the Cavaliers long before LeBron James joined the team. Cleveland will own the Cavaliers long after LeBron James leaves.

Cleveland does not own LeBron James. LeBron James was born in Akron. He was drafted by his hometown Cavaliers, who signed him to a contract. He played at a high enough level to make his contract a relative bargain. He then signed an extension with the Cavaliers. Again, he played at a high enough level to more than justify the money he was given by the Cavaliers.

LeBron does not owe the Cavaliers any more than he has given them. LeBron has never needed to pay off some cosmic debt to Cleveland. He’s done all he can to bring a title to the city, but it was never about anybody forcing LeBron to win a title for the Cavaliers. He tried to win Cleveland a title because he wanted to. Cavs fans just got to watch.

We are not LeBron James, and LeBron James is not us. On the court and off of it, LeBron has only allowed himself to appear tangentially human. On the floor, LeBron is the most blessed player the game has ever seen. Nobody has ever had his combination of size, speed, and explosiveness. He can see plays in a split second that most people couldn’t dream up given all the time in the world. He’s more skilled with his off hand than most forwards are with their dominant one. He can hit insane shots from anywhere on the court, and often makes them simply to prove he can.

He also refuses to make the concessions to fundamental basketball that so many people have demanded him to make. His shot selection is often baffling. He refuses to put himself in the post and use his combination of size and strength to dominate with a minimum of effort. He’s never developed a solid mid-range game, and he’s not even a lights-out free throw shooter. Sometimes, it’s like being the best isn’t good enough for LeBron; he needs to be the best while proving that his own way of doing things works better than all the ones that existed before it.

Off the court, LeBron is even less accessible than he is on it. He wants to be the richest athlete of all time, yet he surrounds himself with his high school buddies. He’s constantly cracking jokes and playing the buddy-buddy role with his teammates, but he keeps the general populace at arm’s length with a bizarre gumbo of warmed-over team-first mantras and a healthy dose of self aggrandizing-behavior. He wants to be Warren Buffet, but he wants to be a big kid as well. He wants to be One of The Guys, but he wants to hand-pick who gets to be One of The Guys.

He has refused all archetypes. He is not the intense workaholic whose desire to win dominates all other aspects of his personality. He is not the happy-go-lucky kid who just wants to play the game and have fun. He is not the suave businessman who controls everything in front of him. In trying to be all of those things, he has become none of them. He has become larger than life, but not in the way he wants to be. He is Alice after eating the cake, too big to fit through the door to the garden and too far down the rabbit hole to come back. And he might not even care.

Tonight, the eve of what was supposed to become LeBron’s big day, is instead the nadir of his career. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and all the hype and adoration that LeBron James inspired has come crashing down upon his ringless self. He is a King without a crown, and now he is being criticized for daring to take the throne. All LeBron did was play basketball very well and lap up every bit of praise lavished upon him for doing so. Whatever LeBron is other than a basketball player, we made him into. Now we have taken it upon us to punish LeBron for his hubris, and ourselves for trusting it. What the gods wish to destroy, they must first label as promising.

Tonight, LeBron is a man without a country. He hasn’t won the championship that would endear him to the fans who want a winner, and he hasn’t stayed humble or loyal enough to the fans who want their superstars to be paradigms of truth, justice, and the American way. He never brought his hometown team to the promised land, and he’ll never be truly worshiped there unless he does. If he leaves, he will go to a new team, a better team, in a bigger city. There, he will never be fully embraced, because he needed to take a shortcut to greatness. If he stays and does not win a championship, he will forever be seen as a player too weak-willed and weak-skilled to have ever truly been great. Even if he stays and does take the Cavs to a championship, he’s gone too far down the aforementioned rabbit hole to ever be the humble, team-first, hometown hero he wants Cleveland to see him as.

On Thursday, LeBron will have a new contract, and may someday get a championship ring. What he will never be is what he was once supposed to be; a player so great that he would unite all basketball fans under his banner, and achieve the kind of consensus greatness that Jordan once did.

He may unite great players under his banner, he may unite the mainstream media and his team’s fanbase under his banner, and he may unite the stat geeks under his banner, but he will never have the mob appeal to match his snob appeal. That ship has sailed, regardless of whether or not he stays in Cleveland.

This was supposed to be LeBron’s year. It was the seventh year of his career; Jordan won his first championship in his seventh year. It was his best individual season ever, both on the stat sheet and in terms of his evolving skills. He had more quality veteran players around him than he ever had before. His team was built to win a championship, not just impress in the regular season. With his contract coming up and a veteran team around him, it was do-or-die time, the time when the great ones are supposed to reveal what it is that makes them great.

If LeBron’s career was scripted, this would have been the year he finally won a championship. The Celtics’ defense didn’t care about any of that, and now the LeBron honeymoon is over. The first act of LeBron James’ career is over, and it ultimately turned out to be a tragic one. From a narrative standpoint, LeBron has tasted true, inexcusable, and lasting failure.

“A life, Jimmy, you know what that is? It’s what happens while you wait for moments that will never come.”

-Lester Freamon, The Wire

We are not LeBron. LeBron is not us. LeBron does not owe us anything. We do not own LeBron. What we do own is the moments that LeBron gave us over the last seven-plus years.

The moment that you turned on ESPN2, saw St. Vincent/St. Mary’s beat Oak Hill, saw LeBron find Romeo Travis with a behind-the-back feed, told any other 8th grader who would listen that this kid was for real, and thought maybe the Cavs might get this kid in the draft? You own that moment.

When the ping-pong balls went Cleveland’s way? We own that moment. When LeBron showed up in that white suit and there was suddenly hope in Cleveland? We own that moment. When LeBron started owning summer league and then got a near triple-double against the Kings in his NBA debut? That moment is ours as well.

How about when LeBron became a legit MVP candidate at 21 years old, then tiptoed the baseline to beat the Wizards in his first-ever playoff series? Yep, that moment is ours. 25 straight points to beat the Pistons in double overtime and take a rag-tag team to the finals? Nobody can take that away. Then there was LeBron in the 2008 playoffs, fighting to the bitter end in a seven-game series against the eventual champs.

Then there was the 2008-09 season, when LeBron somehow took his game to another level and emerged as a dominant force en route to his first MVP award. Even against the Magic, LeBron managed to keep Cleveland’s hopes alive by draining an off-balance, buzzer-beating three in game two. This season, LeBron raised his game and led the Cavs to a 61-game season despite some new acquisitions and a slew of injuries, and nearly every one of those games was a small masterpiece in its own right.

There were the bad moments as well. When the Cavs collapsed down the stretch in 04-05 and missed the playoffs. When the Cavs couldn’t quite finish off the Pistons in game six of the 2006 playoffs. When LeBron took a good portion of the 06-07 season wandering around the perimeter and only trying to take over the game when he felt like it. When LeBron looked like a completely over-matched 21-year old against the Spurs that same year. When LeBron came up just short in his duel with Paul Pierce in 2008. When LeBron couldn’t quite finish off his masterful game one performance against the Magic in 2009, and had that sloppy fourth quarter and overtime in game four of the same series. Then, of course, there was LeBron getting completely demoralized and overpowered by the Celtics’ defense this season, backing down from the challenge he was supposed to embrace.

Off the court, there were the times LeBron had one eye on the bright lights New York or New Jersey/Brooklyn. When it seemed like he wanted to be a global icon more than he wanted to be the best player ever. When he may have told Nike to destroy tapes of a college kid dunking on him. When he was out pimping some self-serving biography. When he acted like he was the one with the right to take Jordan’s number and wear Bill Russell’s. We own all of those moments the same way we own the good ones.

All of those are just the big moments. There was also the night-in, night-out pleasure (and pain) of watching LeBron play. Every time he would lull his defender to sleep with a slight hesitation dribble and explode to the basket. Every time he would shrug off a big man and convert an impossible and-1. Every time he made a jumper few other players would be able to get all the way to the rim. Every time he got the ball in the open court and you told your friends to shut up and watch what was about to happen. Every time he threaded the ball through a hole nobody but his teammate knew was there. Every time he snuck up behind an unsuspecting opponent who thought he had an easy transition layup. Every time the game was close in the last five minutes and you knew LeBron had it under control. There were thousands of those moments, and LeBron gave us every one of them.

(The bad little moments; every time LeBron got in in the post and hesitated to go at his defender, every heat-check, every missed free throw, every stutter-step 20-footer with time on the clock, every off-balance mid-range shot, every time he would dance 30 feet from the basket instead of running the offense.)

Last Saturday, me and a few friends of mine went on a hike. We were led to believe it would be a three-hour day hike, but we ended spending nearly all day climbing up a freaking mountain. It was miserable. At some point during the hike/climb, I realized that a goal-oriented view of hiking makes very little sense. Was the moment I was working for the moment I got to the top of the mountain, only to realize I was now going to have to scramble down this freaking thing? Was it the moment we got to the car, too exhausted to do anything but drive to the nearest gas station, buy a bunch of Gatorade, and drink it in silence? Was it when we got home and finally got to shower? Which one of those moments was supposed to make the whole miserable experience worthwhile? Was it when we could tell very unimpressed people that we climbed a relatively small peak?

The answer, of course, is none of them. If you don’t enjoy the process of hiking/climbing mountains, there is no way to justify the activity. Professional cyclists often talk about how the love of suffering itself is something all good cyclists must have on one level or another. More and more, I feel the same way about being a sports fan. If you’re waiting for that one game, one moment, one play, one championship, three championships, that will make all that suffering go away and let you feel nothing but warm inside when you think about your favorite players and teams, I suggest taking up quilting. To be a die-hard fan is to suffer. You just have to enjoy the little victories that you find while you’re suffering.

Maybe you believe that all the great things LeBron James did in the last seven years were just a dress rehearsal for the moments when he ultimately failed to deliver. Maybe you believe that all the good things you thought about LeBron over the years were revealed to be the products of deceit when LeBron started acting like a jackass who believed himself to be bigger than the game this summer. I suppose those are valid viewpoints. They do not happen to be my own.

For the first two years of his career, LeBron James was perhaps the most exciting prospect the game has ever known. For the next three years of his career, LeBron was an underaged MVP candidate who gave the Cavs a fighting chance at a championship. For the last two years, LeBron has been a dominant individual force who turned the Cavs into true championship contenders. For the last seven years, Cleveland basketball has been something to feel good about. When you think about it, that’s something.

If LeBron does decide to stay tomorrow, it will still never be the same as it was before; LeBron is no longer the golden child, and the Cavs won’t have the buzz around them that they once did. If he does leave, it will be one of the lowest moments in the history of one of the most tormented American sports cities. Either way, an era will officially end tomorrow.

The seven seasons that made up the (1st act of?) the LeBron Era in Cleveland ultimately ended in disappointment, failure, heartbreak, misery, doubt, bitterness, and plenty of suffering for everyone who lived and died with LeBron and the team he led. Personally, I wouldn’t trade those seven years of watching LeBron play for anything in the world.


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