Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thoughts on December 2nd

Many people in Cleveland are excited for Thursday's game against LeBron and the Heat.  I am but I'm not, if that makes any sense. I'm anxious to see how the night unfolds but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have major concerns... both on and off the court.

First, the basketball worries:

It sure is Pile on LeBron Week, huh? Everyone seems to be hating on LeBron and the Heat. There's a coach bump controversy and planted stories.  We got Bill Simmons calling the Heat weak and predicting that they'll get blown out on Thursday. And Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski simply takes LeBron to the woodshed in his latest column:
The fundamental problem for Spoelstra isn’t that James doesn’t respect coaches – he doesn’t respect people. Give LeBron this, though: He’s learned to live one way with the television light on, and another with it off. He treats everyone like a servant, because that’s what the system taught him as a teenage prodigy. To James, the coach isn’t there to mold him into the team dynamic. He’s there to serve him.
Wade was one of the Team USA players who’d watch incredulously as James would throw a bowl of fries back at a renowned chef and bark, “They’re cold!” Or throw his sweaty practice jersey across the court and command a team administrator to go pick it up. Everyone wants James to grow out of it, but he’s never showed much of an inclination for self-examination and improvement. And he’s never surrounded himself with people who’d push him to do so.
What’s more, the timing of this leak was no accident, because James and his business manager had to like the idea of someone else going on trial this week. When the public wanted to talk about James’ return to Cleveland, about the callous way with which he left, about the disjointed start in Miami, they thrust everything onto Spoelstra.

Yowza.
Oh and that's not all, for some reason we're caring if he throws his stupid chalk or not

Maybe I'm crazy, but aren't the conditions perfect for LeBron to throw down an absolutely monster "Eff You" game on Thursday? 

LeBron James is the reigning two-time MVP, is he not? The guy is a world class ass but I believe he's still a pretty damn good basketball player.  One of the best.  Ever. 

(Or has the month of November in the 2010-11 NBA season changed all that?).

And you gotta figure LeBron is going to be a little motivated on Thursday, no?  He's taken an absolute beating in the national press and he'll be facing most hostile non-Ron-Artest-fighting crowd of the last 20 years. He's suffered rumors about his mom. He's been called a quitter.  The guy has every reason to be amped up and ready to bring it. 

Let's not forget he'll be playing in an arena he's extremely familiar and comfortable with (at least with regards to sight lines and things like that) and he'll be going up against Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker, (who he faced in practice every day all last season). *gulp* 

I know it's fun to hate on the Heat right now; they look petulant, childish and overwhelmed.  It's great. HAHA IT'S NOT AS EASY AS YOU THOUGHT, YOU JACKASSES! 8 OR 9 TITLES? YOU SHOULD'VE STAYED IN CLEVELAND, AT LEAST THE CAVS TRY HARD AND PLAY D!

I totally get it.  I love it too. Every time Miami loses I'm immediately put into a good mood. Karma and all that jazz.

But I can't get past the fact that we're just one month in to a six year experiment.  The NBA has an absurdly long season (and postseason!) and due to injuries and Wade's divorce proceedings, Miami didn't get a lot of work during the preseason. This early stretch is basically their training camp and there's roughly 60 games until the playoffs. Yes, they're struggling, but they got time. 

I really hope that the Cavs win on Thursday.  This city and area needs a boost.  But despite Miami's struggles, this is by no means a sure thing. Remember when Chris Bosh was taking some flack and the Heat fed him straight from the get go in a route over the Suns.  What's to stop them from doing the same thing with LeBron?  The Cavs counter with... Andy taking a charge? The big and powerful J.J. Hickson hammering LeBron near the rim? Antawn Jamison doing something useful? We're trusting Parker and Moon to check him? Awesome.

The Cavs, like most teams, don't have an answer for LeBron James.  I don't care how bad Miami is playing, this scares me (I'm not saying he's gonna go off, LeBron could totally blink in the face of all this negativity.  I really have no idea. But I certainly don't think it's out of the question that he has a big night).

The non-basketball worries:

I'm not so much concerned about the Cleveland crowd as I am about some knuckleheads in said crowd. All it takes is one jackass to throw something and the entire city is going to be smeared. After this past year (and counting), do you really think the national media isn't salivating at the chance to wag their finger at us unruly, uncouth, meat-head Cleveland fans? I mean, really?

I'm willing to bet that a lot of people aren't showing up to The Q to catch a basketball game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat but rather to give LeBron a piece of their mind.  I've seen the angry tweets and have heard the bar room bravado (search me all you want, I can still throw my AA batteries from my camera HAHAHA!).  People are fucking pissed and they're going to let LeBron know about it (look at how we treat Braylon Edwards).

The other day, I was struck by something Dave Dameshek said during a podcast with Simmons, that sports matter so much to people in cold weather cities because good teams make the winters so much more bearable.  I completely agree with this.

Cleveland was hit hard by the foreclosure crisis and is hemorrhaging jobs. The our local government is ineffectual and corrupt, our sports teams haven't won a title since the 60s and the weather sucks for six months a year.  Having LeBron on the Cavs was a ray of sunshine during the bleak winter months. Being able to look forward to Cavs game on a random Tuesday night in January was really, really nice.  Plus, there's nothing better than when the city gets behind a team during the playoffs.

(And conversely, winter is that much worse when our teams stink. Terrible weather combined with putrid sports does not a fun winter make).

So Cleveland fans care. A lot. Probably more than we should. That's one reason why we're so mad. LeBron didn't only only kick us in the nuts on national television, but he ended up going to a team that has to print flyers to remind fans to show up to games on time. "You left us for to play at a half empty arena?! Seriously?!?!"

So that's what worries me.  We care too much. The weather is turning cold, the job market is bleak, our winter sports teams are struggling to play even .500 ball and Thursday presents the opportune time for a knucklehead to get drunk and take out his frustration on LeBron.

That's fine, just as long as that knucklehead isn't throwing things or turning into multiple knuckheads. This is just sports, if people start throwing things, someone could get seriously hurt. And as a city with 10 Cent Beer Night and Bottlegate on our permanent record, I'm not sure we've earned the benefit of the doubt in the "not throwing things" department. I've joked about this with friends, but I kinda want the Cavs to put up a net around the court, US vs Mexico in Mexico City style (still won't stop those bags of urine!).

Generally, I feel like the public is behind Cleveland fans at the moment (though some are growing tired with our bitching). The Heat are a perfectly hatable team and people are piling on LeBron. But a poor showing by Cleveland fans this Thursday will swing that public perception the other way.  If the fans are too unruly and tasteless, LeBron ends up looking like, well, if not the Good Guy, at least someone who was justified in bolting town the way he did.  The whole world will be watching this game, how will we act?

(I hope the crowd boo the hell out of him. I like the idea of chanting "Sidekick" or "Robin" whenever LeBron has the ball or "MVP" when Wade is shooting free throws.  Also, I'm all for quitting, lying and backstabbing signs.  Game 5 references are well within play. Just leave his family out of it, everything else is fair game). 

So those are my concerns about Thursday. I'm concerned that LeBron could drop 60 points and completely eviscerate the Cavaliers... assuming the game even gets under way.


Various other Random Thoughts: 

- I like the idea of both Cavs Chants and Laugh at LeBron, but I feel it's too little, too late.  This is something that needed to be organized weeks ago and there's going to be too much going on to get anything coherent set up. There's also talk of everyone turning their back on him during the player announcements.  I don't see how that'll get coordinated either.  Just have 10-20 really loud dudes (in the lower bowl especially) get on the same page with a "sidekick" or "robin" chant, the rest of the arena should catch on.

- I have a hard time getting myself up for some of these Cavs games (especially if I work through the game).  I've heard people tell me how much more fun these Cavs are to watch, on account of the ball movement and such.  I agree, but only so much. I enjoy the ball movement and running style but you know what's really fun? Contending for a championship.

I love this teams resilience and that they're trying hard every night (for the most part).  But to what end? What's the best case scenario for this season? Beating the Heat on the 2nd and then selling off parts for picks and young players? What does a 40-42 8th seed get them? It's a shame, because if this team had The Guy, they'd be pretty well constructed.  But as it stands... where are they headed?

- I don't see the Heat firing Spoelstra. Pat Riley and his gelled hair may look impressive, but switching coaches won't magically make the Heat be able to guard point guards and centers. Yes, the offense needs work but they have structural roster problems that won't go away.

- That being said, are they not allowed to run Wade-James pick and rolls? Is that really too hard? That seems like it would be unstoppable.

- Here are some LeBron related videos going around the web: LeBron James is a Bitch, Michael Jordan's response to LeBron, LeBron flips out on Cleveland fans.

- I cannot believe that the Browns survived that game against Carolina. That had all the makings of a classic expansion Browns loss. They played well enough to win but were in a position to lose at the end.  Good win, but man, Colt McCoy can't get healthy soon enough.

- Browns Fans :: Peyton Hillis | Germans :: David Hasselhoff

- Just caught up on Boardwalk Empire and Bored to Death. I highly recommend both of these HBO shows. Bored is quirky but really funny and I find Boardwalk captivating, even if they can be heavy handed with the metaphors and modern day allusions.

2 comments:

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