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Is it too early to think about LeBron’s jersey retirement ceremony? While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, WFNY!

This is my second-to-last While We’re Waiting of 2016 already. As always, it’s hard to believe how fast yet another year has flown by. 2016 will always be remembered as one of the most complicated years of my lifetime. Not on a personal level, so much, but just in terms of the highs and lows of things that happened in life, politics, pop culture, sports, music, etc. It was a whirlwind, but now we’ve really reached the point where everything kind of slows down. We spend time with family and friends, we celebrate, and we just try to relish in the happiness we find in the places we look for it.

As there continues to be almost nothing interesting to say about Cleveland sports (you know, other than things like 0-16, parades, the Indians not making any moves yet, QB decisions) other than “Hey, the Cavaliers are really good!” And honestly, there’s only so many ways we can say it. The Cavaliers are the absolute best kind of boring. They’re just good, and we know that as long as injuries don’t occur, the men in wine and gold will be making another late run into the playoffs.

But if one is looking into the horizon, there is one more big moment of Cleveland sports in 2016, and that is the Christmas Day showdown between the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The much-anticipated rematch of the 2016 NBA Finals is set to go down at the Q at 2:30 in the afternoon on Christmas Day, and I think everyone in the basketball world is eager to see how the Cavaliers stack up to the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant.

The Cavaliers have been resting their Big 3 heavily recently, and Kevin Love is set to miss another game Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Love has had a couple scary knee-to-knee collisions this season and after his most recent against the Lakers, the Cavaliers are playing it safe with Love’s knee. If one dons their conspiracy-theory cap, though, they might think that it sure seems like the Cavaliers are getting as much rest as possible in preparation for the Warriors matchup.

On one hand, I know it would be easy to say “it’s just a regular season game in December, it doesn’t mean anything.” After all, the Cavaliers lost to the Warriors last Christmas, and Cleveland still went on to win the championship. So who cares, right?

I bet Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue remembers last Christmas. And I’m sure he remembers the fallout of that loss. To be fair, perhaps it was the 34-point loss to the Warriors at home that did more damage, but regardless, less than a month after Christmas, David Blatt was fired despite the Cavaliers holding the best record in the East and the third-best record overall in the NBA. I’m not saying I think there’s any chance Ty Lue gets fired if the Cavaliers don’t beat the Warriors. I’m just saying that when people say regular season games don’t matter, that’s not always exactly true.

The Cavaliers and the Warriors have one of the best rivalries in sports today. Having faced off in back-to-back NBA Finals, and on pace to meet for the third time in a row, these two teams pay a lot of attention to one another. And these teams do not particularly care for one another. I know these teams have had this Christmas Day matchup circled on their calendars since the schedule came out. I’d be willing to bet the Warriors want to make a statement after losing three straight games in the Finals to Cleveland, and I know the Cavaliers want to see how they match up against the Warriors’ new lineup.

Some people say the NBA season doesn’t really start in earnest until Christmas. If that’s the case, then what a way to start the NBA season!

*****

Thinking About LeBron’s Retirement

When Tim Duncan decided to retire after last season, it was handled in the most Tim Duncan way ever. There was no season-long parade of goodbyes a la Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, or Kobe Bryant. Even Duncan’s own teammates didn’t know if Duncan was going to retire or not. And then just like that, a simple statement announcing his retirement, and *poof*…he was gone.

There was no press conference. There wasn’t even a direct quote from Duncan in the press release. Just a statement of fact, that Tim Duncan was no longer going to be an NBA player. It made sense for Duncan to do it that way. That’s just who Duncan was as a player. But for fans, it kind of sucked. There was no opportunity to say goodbye and to give him the send-off that he deserved.

Over the weekend, though, that all changed. The Spurs officially retired Duncan’s jersey in an incredible ceremony filled with laughs and heavy on emotion. Former teammates, coaches, and front office executives filled the court to pay tribute to one of the greatest NBA players of all time. We heard funny and touching speeches from Duncan’s teammates and coaches throughout the years. It was a truly great moment and no matter what team you rooted for, you had to be able to just sit back and enjoy the scene as a sports fan.

It made me wonder, though, what will LeBon’s jersey retirement ceremony be like? I hate how relatively close we are getting to it. LeBron is without a doubt closer to retirement than he is the start of his career. It’s hard to fathom the NBA without LeBron James, but it’s going to happen. And when it does, you know the Cavaliers are going to want to throw him a party worthy of the King.

But who will be on the dais for LeBron? Who will be the ones to speak to LeBron’s importance to Cleveland and the Cavaliers? There are some obvious names. You know Zydrunas Ilgauskas will be there. LeBron and Z were very close as teammates. How about Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love? You have to imagine they would be asked to speak.

I think the one everyone would want to see the most would be JR Smith. Perhaps no player better represents what LeBron James means as a teammate, mentor, friend, and motivator than JR. You have to imagine any speech JR might give would be…interesting.

The awkward speech will come from Dan Gilbert. No matter to what degree LeBron and Gilbert have set aside their differences, the letter will always hang in the air whenever those two are in the same room.

As for former coaches, I’d be stunned if Keith Dambrot wasn’t there. Ty Lue would be a natural lock to be there. I wouldn’t hold your breath for David Blatt, though. But what about Mike Brown? That’s the real wild card.

I don’t really want to think about LeBron retiring yet. For now, the Cavaliers are still contending for championships. But on a slow news day, it’s fun to think about. I have to imagine it will be quite the spectacle and a pretty unforgettable night in Cavaliers history.

*****

That’s all I have for this Tuesday. I just want to wish Happy Holidays to all of you, our readers. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

  • nj0

    I understand this position and agree with it to an extent. But I also think that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances. And this was a unique situation. (Hopefully, guys like Schwartz don’t ever hit free agency again.) As an avowed stat-loving Moneyballer, I’ve come to realize that there’s value that the spreadsheets don’t always capture. I think this was one of those times. Others disagree (obviously).

  • sophia moore

    ========

  • Greg Popelka

    I think it will be terrific to have James and his son playing together on the Cavaliers in about seven years, after the kid’s year under Calipari (wherever he is by then). (Hey, in seven years, it will be the year ’23…)

  • nj0

    That’s very true. If it was one of those one-time only type offers and that was clearly conveyed then it’s hard to fault the Browns for following through. I’d counter though by saying I don’t see what was to be gained from a “take it or leave it” approach at that point.

    You think he’s worth $7M/yr. You think that’s the best offer he’ll get. You’d rather have him sign right now, but you also know he’s going to see what other clubs are willing to offer, just like every free agent ever. So why even say “take it or leave it”? Why create that situation? Why draw a line in the sand? What’s to be gained?

    Wouldn’t it have been better to say: “Mitchell, we want you here. You know our offer and it isn’t going to change. You go and do what you need to do. You’ve earned that right. At the end of the day, we believe that we value you more than any other club out there and that this offer shows that.”

    With that approach, you either get him at $7M or you don’t. Same as the best outcome for the “take it or leave” tactic. Only difference is you don’t deny yourself the opportunity to not sign him if he comes back from exploring FA (like he did).

    However you cut it, Sashi misplayed his hand. (Assuming, of course, that the reports are true. A big assumption.)

  • nj0

    Yes, we actually agree on a lot. I think I often overstate my true feelings on the matter. 0-16 won’t be any skin off my @ss. Yes, patience is required. No, we cant’ fairly evaluate this draft class yet. I guess I just don’t want to get into the habit of hand-waving away the bullsh!t, bad decisions, and inconsistencies from this front office. Not saying there’s been an egregious amount, but there’s been some. And some, I’d contend, don’t bode well for the future.

  • nj0

    Are you suggesting that she truly didn’t think Colt McCoy would take the Browns to a Super Bowl by 2016?

  • Garry_Owen

    I don’t know what SHE believed, but because she reported it, I’m still expecting it to happen. Come on, Danny boy!!

  • Garry_Owen

    Well said. But don’t bring Bode into this. He’s innocent.

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