Scott Raab on the Baron Davis trade

February 24th, 2011 by John Krolik

When the Baron Davis trade was first announced, I had some opinions about what the trade meant re: hypocrisy that I felt would be received as fairly extreme. This blog’s mission statement is simple: it is a blog about why the Cleveland Cavaliers win or lose basketball games, not a site devoted to praising them.

That being said, I do recognize how passionate Cleveland sports fans are, and one of my greatest joys as a writer has been experiencing the kind of passion Cleveland fans have for their team. I tend to be more analytical than emotional in my writing, and currently reside in California, but I do recognize and respect what Cleveland sports mean to residents of the city. That is why I decided to email Scott Raab shortly after I hit “publish” last night and ask him for his thoughts on the trade.

Mr. Raab has written for Esquire Magazine since 1997, is the author of “The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search for the Soul of LeBron James,” and is both an accomplished writer and an extremely devoted fan of Cleveland sports. These are his thoughts on the trade.

(Note: the only edits made were for language reasons)

I think the essential point — really the only thing that matters long-term — is that ‘now the team has hope for the future.’

I think it’s fairly safe to say that Maurice Williams had no chance of being part of the next Cavs team to contend for an NBA title. (I also think that that’s about the kindest thing I myself can find to say about Mo, who proved beyond debate that he was not a wartime consigliere.)

I don’t think Baron Davis will be a long-term Cav, nor do I think this dooms Ramon Sessions. I concur generally with JK’s opinion of Davis, and of Sessions. I think the Cavs have high regard for Sessions, too, and a realistic notion of what Davis can and can’t, and will and won’t, do.

(Still, if the head coach nails Ramon’s ass to the bench in favor of Baron — the more I puzzle over the riddle of Byron Scott’s tenure as Cavs coach, the less I understand — then I hope Chris Grant has sense and power enough to force Scott’s hand.)

But I think it’s mistaken to focus on the Baron/Ramon issue in view of the draft pick involved. Yes, there will be few, if any, can’t-miss options, but the Cavs’ odds of hitting a home run in the draft have just doubled, and, especially in the wake of LBJ’s departure and this horror of a season, that’s ALL I truly care about: Building the next Cavs team that can compete for an NBA title depends almost entirely on drafting well.

In short, the Cavaliers traded Mo Williams for a top-ten draft pick. I’m [freaking] thrilled about that.

I’m less certain when it comes to addressing the issue of ‘rooting for laundry.’ I started working on a book about LeBron and Cleveland fanhood on Draft Day 2009, and I followed the team all of last season as a fully-credentialed media member. Though I had no clue up to the end of last season that the [person who has biblical knowledge of his mother] was outward bound, it took little time to see that the gap between James and the rest of the organization was huge, and growing month by month. I certainly was not the only one to see it; plenty of other folks, inside and outside of the team itself, knew far, far more than I did. But the dysfunction had long since become business as usual, the team was kicking ass on the court, nobody actually believed the King would leave, and no one was able or willing to cal bull[excrement] on LeBron.

What I’m saying — in additon to ‘Buy my book’:  — is that as fans, all we really can do is root for the laundry, and hope that the players wearing it do so with the kind of passion and loyalty that Cleveland fans deserve. I’m not defending Twan’s lack of effort D, and I share Krolik’s frustration with the fans, media, and coach for not calling him out on it; nor am I dumb or dishonest enough to dispute his claim that the Whore of Akron was the best player in franchise history by far.

But that’s a different discussion altogether. Comparing the impact of this deal to The Decision — whatever the emotions of the moment and however things turn out — strikes me as absurd.

Ignorance or stupidity aren’t the same as hypocrisy. Any Cavs fan who rushes out to buy a Baron Davis jersey knows nothing about basketball, or has learned nothing about the essential lunacy of fanhood — particularly Cleveland fanhood.

As for moral codes and sports, the older I get, the more I tend to embrace the philosophy of Al Davis: Just win, baby.