It’s impossible to say something that hasn’t already been said about the this off-season. We’re all aware of the impact on the league and the region, and we’re also aware of the potential consequences that come with trading Wiggins and Bennett. I’m not here to put the last three months into an NBA context because I wont be able to contribute anything fresh (and, lets be honest, no one really knows what will happen this season or any future season). More, I think the largest unspoken impact this summer has had, and the impact that has been largely overlooked, is on a fanbase dying for something to be positive about.
New York is a big sports city – that’s a fact any sports fan could tell you in the blink of an eye. New Yorkers, like any other strong fan base, are obsessive about their teams. But unlike most other sports towns, it’s also incredibly easy to find pockets of other fan bases. Within my office alone I have (and it hurts to say it) two Miami fans, two Chicago fans, an SF fan, a Houston fan, a Buffalo fan, and a Philly fan. If any of those people wanted to commiserate with the fellow-minded, my guess is it wouldn’t take them long to find someone – it might even be as easy as crossing the street and walking into a bar. While many sports teams typically fall on these expat’s radars, Cleveland is rarely in the conversation. Until now.
As I’m sure any listener of the podcast can guess, I’m a pretty lively guy; I’m outgoing, loud, and fearless around people. When it comes to sports, this often means I end up deep in a conversation defending the Cavaliers, Cleveland, and Ohio in general. “But Hoyer won three games last year!” “Michael Brantley is a decent player!” “Dion is incredibly explosive – have you seen his highlight reel?!” “J.T. Barrett is the perfect mix of Braxton and Kenny Guiton – the Buckeyes will be fiiiiiiiiine.” Trust me – my friends, my colleagues, and most total strangers are really, really tired of hearing this stuff. But, for the first time in a REALLY long time, the Cavaliers are suddenly a desired part of the conversation.
The last month has been a sports blur – people coming up to me to congratulate me, telling me how excited they are to watch the Cavaliers this season, and wanting to engage in a discussion of how high this team can fly. These are happenings that even during Lebron’s first Cavs stint were not common place… Appreciation is high for the Cavaliers right, a revelation to anyone who follows NE Ohio sports, whose fandom is generally met with a mix between, “ouch, you root for them?” And “hahahahaha.” This isn’t to pile it on Cleveland, because I love the city and the sports, but in recent days, then support swell is nothing short of incredible, especially considering the imagine people hold of the city.
Still, what’s most amazing about Lebron, Kevin, Kyrie, Dion, Tristan, Andy, Mike, Shawn, Matt, and
Jared James (as in Jones) teaming up isn’t what it means in other people’s eyes, it’s what it means to us. Ohioans are proud by nature, a fact I learned first hand when I moved from NYC to Cleveland and was constantly inundated with CLE love. And while Cleveland has, in recent years, rarely returned the favor, this is a moment where we can all hold our heads high, take a deep breath, and smile. At this moment and time, it’s great to be a Cavs fan.