Random Cavalier Thoughts

Trying to collect my thoughts as the Cavaliers’ season winds down…

First off, I was a guest on post-Heat-win PodCavs podcast (also their 1 year anniversary podcast). Take a listen, there’s some good shit on there.

Before last night’s loss to the Bulls, the Cavaliers honored their long time radio broadcaster, Joe Tait:

Right before Friday’s Cavs game with the Bulls, the team honored Tait by placing his banner next to that of Carr and the other Cavs who have had their numbers retired. Tait received a long standing ovation. He waved to the crowd, and truly did appreciate their applause.

But in the spotlight, Tait seemed to bite down on his lower lip . . . stared at his scorecard — and couldn’t wait for the real action to begin.

He never saw himself as part of the game. He was just someone to tell the fans about the game. That’s what made him a Hall of Fame broadcaster.

I noticed that Tait looked uncomfortable during the presentation as well, soI made my buddy turn on the radio because I wanted hear his response. I was not disappointed (from Brendan Bowers @WFNY):

After the hoopla ended, his banner was raised to the Quicken Loans rafters, and it was basketball time once again, the first thing Joe Tait said in response to the ceremony was simply the following:

“I’ll tell you this, I haven’t seen so many ugly sweaters in one place in my entire life.”

Which made me smile, and realize just how much I’m gonna miss Joe Tait.

Self deprecating and hilarious…. classic Tait. Like Bowers, I ended up watching the game with Tait on the radio, and while he was a little ahead (for us, just 2-3 seconds), it was great. I don’t see how you can be a fan of this team and not miss Joe.

At some point I’ll scan and post a copy of the Tait piece I wrote for the Cavs Zine earlier this year. Just gotta go dig for it.

Not gonna lie, I’ve been struggling with the Cavs winning games late in the season (I mean, yay wins! but ping pong balls! but winning! but first pick!).

Craig Lyndall at WFNY wrote a good piece on the subject:

Immediately after Baron Davis and the Cavs closed out the Raptors the whining started on Twitter about what could be the worst acronym in the history of attempted gimmicks: APPBITH.  In case you don’t know, it stands for “Another Ping Pong Ball in the Hopper” as coined by Kenny Roda at WKNR.

I don’t mean to pick on Kenny because I have enjoyed his show at times in the past, but let’s get something straight.  Acronyms are used to make phrases simpler, marketable, catchy, entertaining or something other than cumbersome.  Before I ever speak “APPBITH” aloud even once, I would prefer to say “Another Ping Pong Ball In the Hopper” ten times.  The acronym aside, let’s talk about the concept that the Cavaliers should lose for more chances at winning the lottery.

I understand anyone who wants to root for the Cavs to lose so they have a better chance at a draft pick.  I don’t really choose to think that way, but I am not so naive that I don’t understand.  There just seems to be a strange disconnect as to where this obsession with badness should stop.  You can root for it if that is what you think is right, but it stops at the Cavaliers’ locker room door.  The minute you expect the Cavs or their coach Byron Scott to play along, you’ve officially lost your head.

Agreed. While I’ve bitched and moaned on Twitter and Facebook myself (now you win? Now?!?!), I don’t think Coach Scott needs to be playing Manny Harris in crunch time in order to keep that worst record (continuing to play Anthony Parker should do just fine).

Ryan Isley of the Dugout Sports Show points out the that “best” the Cavs can finish is second worst:

Forget the fact that the Cavaliers cannot finish better than the second-worst record in the NBA. Forget that the Cavaliers can end up with no worse than the fifth pick overall, with no guarantee of being higher than the fourth pick with the worst record.

Word. It’s not like the Cavs are going to win so much that they’ll now be picking 10th or something.

My thing is this: if we’re gonna have to sit through the longest losing streak in North American professional sports history and 9 months of Cleveland jokes, at the end of it, I’d like to have the best chance at the first overall pick.

That being said, I don’t really have an opinion on who the Cavs should draft. Duke point guard Kyrie Iriving seems to be the top prospect in the draft but, as weird as this sounds, I don’t know if he even starts here.

You’re telling me that Davis would come off the bench and backup a rookie point guard? Or that Byron Scott would even start a rookie point guard?

And the flipside would be that the 18 win Cavaliers will bring the #1 overall pick off the bench. That seems like a waste of time, no? And that’s assuming Scott even plays the rookie(s) when he has a squad of healthy vets.

Like I said, I’ll have more opinions on who the Cavs should draft once I know where they’ll be actually drafting. I’d like to wait to see where they’ll actually be picking before I start learning wing spans and shooting percentages of 19 year old prospects.

But it’s not like I’m watching these games actively rooting for the Cavs to miss shots and lose that particular night. I like watching the Cleveland Cavaliers win! I just want their wins to matter (like in meaningful playoff games).

I’ve certainly been dismissive of the “Baron + 2 lottery picks in a crappy draft = playoffs” but it’s not because I don’t want them to win or that I dislike these guys.

In fact, I love Baron Davis! The guy does stuff like this:

I want that guy on my team. He would be fun to root for. But then there’s crap like this, this, this and this.

So basically, the plan for next year is: we assume Davis is in shape and motivated, we assume J.J. continues to grow (ask the 2008 Indians how that plan works out), we assume floppy-McElbow-Varejao stays healthy, we assume the Cavs draft well (and first overall) and we assume Byron Scott knows what he’s doing… and their ceiling is… the 7th seed? 5th?

Plus, they’d load up on picks for the weak 2011 draft and gun for the playoffs and miss out on the strong 2012 draft? That’s assuming everything goes right?

Color me skeptical about their longterm sucess.

But would that not be fun? Davis + rookies + Hickson + AV…. That wouldn’t be a fun team to cheer for?

What’s the point of sports? Is a non-title season still worth our time and money? The Price-Daugherty Cavs squads never won a title. Neither did the Manny-Thome-Lofton Indians. But we had fun watching them play, no? Were those years wasted because they never won the big one? I dunno.

Were the LeBron years a waste since they ended titleless? I don’t think so. I mean, I had a shitload of fun for his eight seasons in Cleveland. Of course, I wish he didn’t leave like a douche and I wish he didn’t quit versus Boston and so on and so forth, but was at the end of the day,  I feel like those years were a net positive experience.

Dan Devine is going through the same stuff with the Knicks (and says it better than I can):

I know that adding Carmelo Anthony, in and of itself, doesn’t make the Knicks a title contender now or in the future. I know that they’ll only reach that level by making other moves, which will be significantly more difficult given the amount of money Anthony’s extension will pay him over the next four years. I know that, as Dwyer wrote when the deal went down, “this moment doesn’t promise anything beyond what it’s already given” to fans like me.

But it’s still OK to actually enjoy what moments like the trade itself — and the game-winner against the Grizzlies, and those third-quarter explosions against the Magic and the Nets, or any other specific instance of exultation that you might savor — do give us, right? To appreciate those moments without believing they’ll ultimately be meaningless if they don’t result in rings?

We can take it as read that successful sports teams, like successful ventures in any walk of life, are most frequently built by addressing needs rather than chasing wants, and by having the wisdom not to confuse the two. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp, especially when you root for a team that’s sucked for a decade pretty much entirely because it’s been a case study in screwing that up and continually succumbing to ill-considered desires.

But while I understand that the point of being an NBA team is to win an NBA championship, it seems like the point of being an NBA fan is to enjoy watching NBA basketball — to revel in the myriad joys the league can provide, whether it’s the big one that ends with a trophy being raised or the countless little ones along the way, like experiencing something fresh, watching unfamiliar elements combine to potentially create an exciting new thing, or even just seeing some great plays that make you jump out of your seat. It’d be a real bummer if we decided those things didn’t really count without the validation of a title, and that the only real fandom is reducing everything to a championship-or-bust bottom line.

It’s very, very possible that Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire will never win a championship as members of the New York Knicks. If that’s what winds up happening, I will be all kinds of sad about it, and I will continue to hope that I’ll get to see the Knicks win a title before I die. But given their talents and their flair for the dramatic, it seems to me a good bet that one, the other, or both will at some point — regular season, postseason, whatever — author a moment that makes Madison Square Garden explode with joy, a play that cuts to the core of our fandom and helps explain to people like my fiancée why we as fans care the way we do.

It’ll be a moment worth watching. I just hope we can hear it, too.

I implore you to read the whole thing.

I don’t really have any closing thoughts, so I’ll just leave you with the video for Moneygrabber by Fitz & the Tantrums:

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