A life-long basketball fan, I have been covering the Cleveland Cavaliers since 2010, first with my own blog, Raising the Cadavalier, and then with Cavs: The Blog, part of ESPN.com's TrueHoop network. My NBA writing has also appeared on ESPN.com, Dime Magazine, The Classical, and Triangle Offense. Follow me on Twitter @cadavalier.
Highlight posts are below. Click the names in the menu for my site-specific archives.
1.) Heading into the season, very few NBA prognosticators expected the Cavs to have a dominant regular season.
This wasn’t so much a slight against the defending champs, as it was a realistic assessment of how much importance this team was going to place on the season’s first 82 games. Anyone who watched the Cavs last season saw a team whose focus was about as reliable as that of a pre-op LASIK patient.
June 20, 2016 - What Winning Means - Cavs: The Blog
Back in 2004, on the eve of what would turn out to be the end of another high profile sports curse, Bill Simmons wrote that all he wanted, with the Red Sox poised to win their first World Series since 1918, was to “become Just Another Baseball Fan again."
"[T]hat’s all [Red Sox fans] ever wanted,” he wrote. “Outsiders made up false curses, called us losers, pointed to a legacy of failure, questioned our sanity. We kept hoping… hoping it would be worth it. And it was.” Cleveland fans can now breathe a similar sigh of relief. LeBron James exorcized the city and its fans from the idea that defeat and disappointment are the only real options in life… at least, where its sports teams are concerned.
The Cavs won in the most un-Cleveland way possible, making history by becoming the first team ever to come back from a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals. Add to that the fact that their opponent, the Golden State Warriors, had just set the league record for most wins in a regular season that saw their legend grow to Cult of Personality status and the Cavs were staring at an incline of damn near 90-degrees to get to the mountaintop.
But James is just that great. So, get there they did.
Everyone knew coming into the season that the Cleveland Cavaliers would be a non-stop NBA talking point. Still, the number of controversies the team has already crammed into the season’s first month — from LeBron James confronting Kyrie Irving about being a better playmaker, to Dion Waiters sitting out the national anthem in Denver, to questions about new head coach David Blatt’s rotations, to James calling his teammates “fragile,” all heightened by some pretty profound early season struggles — have exceeded most everyone’s expectations. Seriously, did anyone predict that a November matchup against the Orlando Magic would be a “must-win” game for Cleveland?
When LeBron James called Kevin Love on July 11, just hours after announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, his message to Love was simple: come play with me in Cleveland and let’s win some championships together. Love’s response was simpler still. “I’m in,” he said.
August 25, 2014 - I'm Not There: Andrew Wiggins's Bizarro 58 Days as a Cleveland Cavalier - Triangle Offense
There is a point in the sci-fi classic novel Ender’s Game where the adults in charge of training the Earth’s prepubescent fighting force take an already promising young commander and conspire to rig the training system, making the challenges the young man has to face more difficult than for any cadet who has come before. The more impossible the challenges, the adults reason, the more exceptional the commander who bests them. That young man’s name is Andrew “Ender” Wiggin and if the last roughly two months in the life of the NBA’s 2014 top pick in the draft—who, but for one missing letter, shares Ender’s given name—are any indication, the Minnesota Timberwolves can expect him to turn into a truly exceptional player.
It seemed like so much longer than just 30 days, but August 23, 2014 did eventually come and, with it, the deal that delivers Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers became official.
In the summer of 2005, when the rest of us were lining up to see Batman Begins for the 42nd time, newly named Cleveland Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry had his work cut out for him. Ferry, once the Cavs’ poster boy for transactions-gone-wrong when the team traded guard Ron Harper for the Duke standout way back in 1989, took over a roster with a lot of promise. He had, after all, a player named LeBron James, who had just wrapped up a sophomore season that saw the 2003 first overall pick average 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game.
As the last three days saw Cleveland’s sports fans shift from hopeful to anticipatory to holding their phones over public restroom toilets while shouting threats at all the fake Adrian Wojnarowski Twitter accounts, some went so far as to say that LeBron James—in keeping his lips and this offseason’s “Free Agency Award” winning envelope firmly sealed—was turning 2014 into an even worse PR debacle than 2010. After The Decision, it took James a good 18 months to once again be comfortable in his own basketball skin and play to win for himself, not to prove a point to everyone else.
Years ago, when then-NBA Commissioner David Stern decided to make the Draft his masterwork of dramatic theater, he searched far and wide for just the right villain, the antagonist who would balance out the parade of young men who would march to the podium each year and shake his hand, each one radiating the promise of a dream fulfilled, of lives just cracking the cover on the stories they had to tell. The fans would soon alert Stern that he need look no further: there was no villain in the NBA universe so good as himself. For the remainder of his tenure, then, Stern embraced the role and attacked it with enough scene-chewing vigor as to make a late-career Al Pacino blush.
As recently as last Thursday afternoon, the Cavaliers draft strategy seemed set. They were poised to draft Joel Embiid, the 7-1 center from the University of Kansas, who many draft analysts considered to be the tip of the consensus top-three, that also included fellow Jayhawk, Andrew Wiggins, and Duke forward Jabari Parker.
About an hour west of Cleveland, nestled along a shared Lake Erie shore, sits the grand dame of American amusement parks, Cedar Point. The site has long been northern Ohioans' go-to for sugar-drenched fried dough and Berenstain Bears “live shows,” while lines for its murderers' row of record-breaking roller coasters -- this one’s the tallest ... this one’s the fastest -- snake on and on for hours.
Based on the most recent mock drafts, we have a decent idea of where certain players might land. That means we also have some sense of which players are going to be a little grumpier on June 27. Who could be demanding a trade or made available in one? Which player becomes immediately redundant at the precise moment that another’s life-long dream comes true? We’ve addressed all that in the 2014 NBA Redundancy Draft.
In truth, this was supposed to be a different article. It was supposed to be an article about the Cavs organization learning to hate losing and taking the appropriate lumps that come with an abundance of basketball hubris. It cannot be that article because the Cavs, despite their relative lack of luck on the basketball court or in front offices gone by, can do one thing extremely well: they can win a damned draft lottery with the best of ‘em.
Last weekend, I spent several hours in front of a laptop introducing my nephew to the first season of “The A-Team.” It was fitting in its to-everything-turn-turn-turn way, as when the show debuted in 1983, when I was every bit as much an eight-year-old as Max is now. And there are many ways that “The A-Team,” despite being a one-hour “drama” originally aired in prime time, is custom made for the eight-year old’s imagination. There is virtually no way in which it is anything but that: the team builds stuff, dress up in costumes and lay excruciatingly bare the outer reaches of their limits as actors every week, as Hannibal wince-inducingly plays an Asian laundry owner or Face tacks on a couldn’t-possibly-ever-be-mistaken-for-Texas accent in his con as an oil baron. Also, as viewers will know, “The A-Team” features Howlin' Mad Murdock and Mr. T. “The A-Team” is fantastic. This is not news.