An ESPN.com survey that the entire basketball section of the website, including the THN, named the Cavaliers one of the three teams most likely to face “turmoil” this offseason. The Fearless Leader asked me to write about what kind of turmoil Cavs fans should expect from the team this year, and I obliged. Go forth and enjoy.
Archive for August, 2010
-Sorry for the inactivity, but there was not a lot of Cavs-related stuff going on this week. I swear I have some off-season type post all planned, but things can sneak up on you in the summertime — there’s 10 days left in my last official summer “vacation” ever. Kinda strange.
-Great to see all the HOF inductees tonight. Crazy to think about just how good that ’92 team really was. And Pippen and Malone both deserved a night of their own — they were so good, so impossibly good, and yet they both played in MJ’s shadow for different reasons.
-On that note, here’s 18-year old Krolik on Scottie Pippen. I literally can’t bring myself to read it right now; I don’t want to know how much I sucked back then.
-According to the rumors section over at the fearless leader, the Nets are planning on snagging CP3 via trade or ‘Melo via free agency. With a lockout looming, does anyone else feel like ‘Melo’s free agency is going to be a very strange thing?
-Because it’s the weekend: Scott Pilgrim is really, really good. Amazing visually, keeps a great pace and tone, legitimately laugh-out-loud funny, and Pill/Kendrick/Winstead is a murder’s row of young actresses with serious chops. Also, great music, including the Metric song I embedded. Just an absolutely wonderful movie.
-Kelly Dwyer posted the following video and said the following thing when he guest-hosted TrueHoop back in the day, and I shall do the same now: Good Night, and Good Scottie Pippen.
-Big, big ol’ four-team trade today. Here’s what interests me the most about it: the Hornets have, effectively, put all of their eggs into the CP3 basket. Collison may be a better player than Ariza straight-up, and is almost certainly a better overall package when you consider their contract situations.
But Ariza fits next to CP3, and will give him an effective wing option with some very good athleticism. (He’s also a spot-up shooter, although his ability to knock down open threes is more than a bit overrated.) As long as Chris Paul has the ball in his hands, Ariza a more effective option than Collison. (Although I will say that I was very interested to see what a Paullison backcourt would have been able to do.)
So here’s the question: did the Hornets make this move because Paul has given them reason to believe he won’t demand a trade/bolt after his contract is up, or did they make the move in an attempt to convince him to stay? And isn’t that the relevant question (that nobody has really been asking) with regards to Gilbert/LeBron? If you want to make things even more interesting on that front, consider that the Hornets now have Trevor Ariza, whom LeBron allegedly wouldn’t give an “I’m staying in Cleveland after 2010″ guarantee to last off-season.
If this is the Hornets trying to pressure/guilt the franchise into giving them a commitment, shouldn’t the fact that LRMR manages Paul and LeBron is CP3’s best friend give them some pause on that front? Although I don’t want to downplay the impact of the Hornets being able to get rid of the Posey contract, the main conclusion I take away from this move is that the Hornets will give up CP3 when someone pries him from their cold, dead hands. Seeing as to how CP3 is legitimately one of the five best players in basketball and I don’t see the Hornets being contenders in the next two seasons, this could end up becoming very ugly.
-I was interested by the reaction to LeBron’s “I’m making mental notes of all the people who took shots at me” tweet. Other than THERE IS NO GOOD REASON FOR LEBRON TO HAVE A TWITTER, my main takeaway from that is this: LeBron’s move to Miami to play with Wade and Bosh, along with LRMR’s involvement in everything, has definitely advanced the “LeBron wants to live Entourage, and doesn’t really care about true greatness” storyline.
Of course, the other side of LeBron’s move to Miami is that he’s now a villain to a large proportion of the fan population. We’ve seen Kobe’s Q rating go through the roof after he embraced a “borderline sociopath” persona — will that be the narrative that takes over if Miami wins it all next season?
The counterpoint, of course, would be that the MJ archetype is that he was a sociopath with his fellow players and a Man of The People to the fans — so far, LeBron’s appeared to be the opposite.
That’s about all I have for tonight. Until tomorrow, all.
Not a whole lotta Cavs-related stuff going on right now, I gotta admit. From around the league:
-Tim Thomas is apparently about to re-up with the Mavs for year, while Skip is still looking for a job. the lesson: if you wanna miss a lot of time for personal reasons, it helps to be tall.
-So MJ’s going to give Pippen’s induction ceremony. Vegas places odds of a LeBron/Heat potshot at 5:2.
-Durant is your Vegas favorite for next season’s MVP. There’s no doubt he’s the league’s new golden boy, and may well win the award next year, but is he really the league’s best player next season?
-So the Cavs worked out Tracy McGrady. They won’t sign him, which is welcome news to be and likely many others. My question is this: McGrady was never that athletic in Houston. His assets were always his passing ability, height, and outside shooting (the latter wasn’t great, but passable.) Why is everyone acting like he can’t be a part of a rotation after another surgery? To repeat: T-MAC HAD NO ATHLETICISM IN HOUSTON. This puzzles me greatly.
-ESPN’s Cavs prediction: 13th out of 15 teams in the East. Ouch.
Seriously, that’s about all I have for tonight. Consider this an open thread of sorts if you must. Until tomorrow, campers.
-Shannon Brown — officially a Laker, still. Good deal for both sides.
-Best of luck to former Cavs assistant GM Lance Blanks, who is now the general manager of the Phoenix Suns.
-Links: Tom Haberstroh says that Carmelo Anthony isn’t a max-value caliber player. Good read. (Insider required.)
-Teams interested in Delonte, according to Cleveland.com: Chicago, Boston, and Dallas. He’d fit in quite well with all of those teams.
-With Tiger struggling at Akron today, it feels relevant to mention that it wasn’t long ago that Tiger and LeBron were officially named the two most NOW athletes on the planet. I guess that was THEN.
(Random theory: I feel that the way somebody feels about Kanye West’s twitter stream can tell you a lot about how they relate to culture and the idea of celebrity in general. If you are reading Kanye’s tweets because you want to know what kind of human being Kanye is, you react to them one way. If you see Kanye West as nothing more than an entity that delivers music and semi-surrealist tweets to the public, you react to them in a very different way. Yes, this theory is relevant to this blog.
All I’ll say is that Kanye has just enough self-awareness to really be a danger to himself, like when somebody has a vague idea of how to count cards at a blackjack table. To put it another way, Kanye is just sane enough to make his insanity truly compelling. Okay, I’m rambling.)
-On LeBron’s letter to Akron: I guess it’s a chicken-or-egg thing, right? LeBron goes on TV and says he doesn’t care about Cleveland. In response, Cleveland has a semi-riot against LeBron and burns his jerseys in effigy while his former owner attempts to put a curse upon his house. Is LeBron’s “snuffing” of Cleveland a response to the hatred/jersey-burning, or is it further evidence that he never cared about Cleveland in the first place? Most Cleveland residents will likely say the latter, but I think expecting LeBron to publicly thank Cleveland at this juncture was perhaps a bit unrealistic.
Shaq may be officially gone. I like how both Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal look like bad signings for the Celtics because both Shaq and JON looked absolutely awful against the Celtics in last season’s playoffs.
If Shaq hadn’t busted up his thumb (against the Celtics) or the Cavs had actually played the Magic in the playoffs last season, there would have been real demand for him this off-season. Part of me feels like Ainge and Doc Rivers are working the same swagger that the bad guy from the new Casino Royale movie was. Ever since Kevin Garnett saw that movie, he has made it his solemn mission to only cry tears of blood. Until Rajon Rondo got his first playoff triple-double, those tears were the only thing he was allowed to drink in Garnett’s presence.
-Delonte waived. I hope he comes back, but if the Cavs don’t have interest, there’s likely a good reason.
-Well, that’s all for tonight — I think I might be losing my mind a little bit. Until tomorrow, campers.
So Shannon Brown is deciding between the Cavs, the Knicks, and the Lakers. He could compete for a starting spot and play up-tempo on the former two; the Lakers can offer him less money, but the chance to win another championship and play in the triangle, which suits him pretty well.
I don’t expect he’ll come to the Cavs, and I’m not heartbroken over it. Athletes help fast-break teams, but the most important thing is how fast the ball moves. Shannon’s a ball-stopper who can’t create off the dribble, and the triangle suits him better than a run-and-gun system would in a lot of ways. He would make some highlights, though. Ultimately, I think his price tag is going to end up being higher than he should be.
There were some rumors that the Heat would be opening the season at the Q, but now it looks like it’ll be the Celtics, which is somehow more depressing. First 10,000 fans to show up with an open wound get a free shaker of salt.
Ford and Hollinger put the Cavs 28th in their 30-team “future power rankings.” According to them, Gilbert’s letter did in fact deter players and agents from wanting to deal with Gilbert and the Cleveland organization. That letter definitely got the fanbase active and could be responsible for a lot of ticket sales next season, but it looks like there may be consequences.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas wrote a letter to Cleveland fans, which was published in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer on Sunday. (Here’s a link to the letter for those of you who haven’t seen it.)
It’s exactly the kind of thing Z would do. It’s classy, it’s understated, it’s honest, it’s from the heart, and it was written directly for Cleveland fans. Again, exactly what you’d expect from Big Z. If there was any doubt that Ilgauskas’ number will someday be retired before, there shouldn’t be now.
This leads me to an idea I’ve had for a while, and one I thought about writing about it in response to Cam’s post on Friday — the letter just makes the idea a little bit more obvious.
Nobody is quite sure what’s going to happen when LeBron comes back to Cleveland. Cities have hated athletes before, but it’s usually there are some understood ground rules, an acknowledgement that this is all kind of a dress-up game. However vehemently Ohio State fans have booed great Michigan players, or Red Sox fans have booed great Yankee players, or whatever, there’s always been a tacit understanding that they were really just saying “You’re a very talented player who may or may not have some personal flaws, and you’re wearing the wrong laundry.”
Most fans would never admit it, but booing a player is often a sign of respect. That doesn’t appear to be the case with Cavs fans and LeBron James. It’s one thing to boo a player for his on-court performance or off-court shenanigans — this is about hating LeBron James based on a major choice he made and the way he chose to act while doing it. Driving 98 yards in 5 minutes was John Elway’s job. “The Decision” was LeBron’s choice.
That’s a much different kind of hate — honestly, the best comparable I can think of to this is when Carlos Boozer returned to Cleveland, and that blow was softened by the Cavs’ rise and Boozer’s up-and-down stint with the Jazz. Football and baseball teams have had players leave under dubious circumstances before, but those fans are a lot further away from the players than basketball fans are.
One could also consider what happens to top college athletes that string along one school and commit to another at the 11th hour — remember when Eric Gordon decided to attend Indiana?
In any case, I’m not really looking forward to LeBron’s return to the Q. Sports are a lot of good things, but they can also be an excuse for fans to indulge their instincts to join a tribe and act like animals towards anybody outside of their chosen tribe. I fear that’s what may happen when LeBron returns to Cleveland.
It’s fine to boo LeBron James. It’s fine to hate LeBron James. What I’m concerned about is Cleveland becoming a franchise that defines itself by its hatred of LeBron James. It’s something I’ve seen other fanbases do to varying extents in the past, and it was never pleasant to look at. The fact that LeBron acted foolishly in the weeks and days leading to his decision to play for a different team didn’t change my mind about that.
So here we are. Cleveland fans (and the owner of the Cavaliers) clearly feel that they were wronged by LeBron James in a major way, and most feel a very deep antipathy for him now. Fighting against this current with a “Thanks for the seven years of service and all you did for the franchise, LeBron” night upon his return would be foolish.
On the other hand, “Screw You, LeBron night” (orchestrated chants, video segments to incite the crowd, 2-3 play stoppages because somebody threw something at LeBron, et cetera) also wouldn’t be my cup of tea. I completely understand why such a thing would happen, and acknowledge that it likely will. That said, this is a beautiful game played by a lot of good people, and losing sight of that makes for bad sports fandom. Also, going overboard with that stuff could lose Cleveland fans a lot of the good will they’ve gained since the LeBacle.
So what should be done when LeBron returns? This is just one man’s opinion, but I think they should make the first Heat-Cavaliers game at the Q next season “Zydrunas Ilgauskas Night.” Give out Z bobbleheads or facemasks at the door. Have halftime be a “Thank You, Z” show, with a montage for him, a speaker or two, and an opportunity for Z to speak. There should be one heck of an ovation.
Don’t go overboard with it and make the “screw you, LeBron” theme overt — everything said and done for Z should be about Z, and done because he deserves it. (Because the “screw you, LeBron” theme will be implicit, the Cavs should NOT retire Z’s number until his Heat days are forgotten and LeBron isn’t on everyone’s minds the way he will be for the next 2-3 years. Z deserves for that night to be all about him.)
LeBron James has been given a lot of things in his life. He’s won a lot of things, and he’ll win a lot more things in the years to come.
However, there are somethings that can’t be given. There are even some things that can’t be won. Some things must be earned, and the appreciation Cleveland has for Zydrunas Ilgauskas is one of those things. When LeBron comes back, it may be prudent to give him a glance of one thing he’ll never get.