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“What’s wrong with second best?” While We’re Waiting

The title of this post is a reference to a Pedro the Lion song. It has nothing to do with sports as far as I can tell, but it’s the only thing I could think about when I was writing about the Cavaliers and the future and how I don’t think this team should be broken up because they’re likely to be the runner-up this season. Anyway, it’s an interesting title for a song to play today. The song is impossibly heavy, dramatic, and feels like the ultimate lament.

“Second best, oh, second best
I can learn to live with this
Plus, I really need a rest
After all, what’s wrong with second best
What’s wrong with second best”

The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t need to change drastically…

Despite what feels like their inevitable demise at the hands of the Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors, it isn’t easy for me to chalk up the future as pointless. The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t need to make a drastic change this off-season. The Cavaliers have a generational player, LeBron James, and a supporting cast of stars and they are staring down a sweep of painful proportions. I get it. It stinks, and it hurts, and it feels so very permanent because of the way the Warriors are constructed. Let me be the first to say we all need to chill. There are no guarantees, and insanity is repeating something and expecting a different outcome, but the idea that these Cavaliers need to change drastically is also wrong.

I know the Cavaliers ran into a buzzsaw. I know that a 73-win team added Kevin Durant. The Cavaliers need to try and work to put themselves in a position to beat them for sure. We need to come at that with a certain amount of reality, however. The Warriors got lucky that they had a salary cap position to sign Kevin Durant. The Cavaliers can try and work a trade for someone like Paul George or something, but even if they can’t these Cavaliers are worthy as they’re currently constructed.

Kyrie Irving didn’t play his best so far this series, despite finally going off in a Game 3 loss. I have no idea what’s wrong with Tristan Thompson, but I’m half expecting there to be some injury story coming out over the next few months. Even if he’s not injured, I think it’s clear that he can and has played far better in the past than he did this season. Kevin Love is a phenomenal talent and easily had his best season with the Cavaliers. In my mind, there’s real possibility for the Cavaliers to get organically better without making drastic changes to the roster.

Nobody knows what the future will bring for the Warriors either. They have nine unrestricted free agents this off-season, including Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, and most importantly Steph Curry. Obviously, there’s no reason to think Steph would leave the Warriors, but it’s important to see how the Warriors deal with the second half of their roster. They won’t have cap space as their expiring players are almost all in their 30’s with the exception of JaVale McGee (29,) Ian Clark (26,) and restricted free agent James McAdoo (24.) Of course, any team featuring Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green could win most NBA games with you or me as their fifth starter, but not against these Cavaliers in a playoff series.

When I look at the Cleveland Browns, I see a majority of “prospects” where the missing ingredient isn’t time. With the Cavaliers, I think they are so talented at the top of the roster that continuity and time increase their chances. There will naturally be some changes from this season’s team to next year’s. Richard Jefferson might retire. Free agents Deron Williams and Kyle Korver are 32, and 36 years of age respectively. Channing Frye has one more year and might have trade value as an expiring contract of nearly $8 million. I don’t even want to speculate how it could all play out other than to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers can and should continue to challenge for championships with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love.

Despite this year’s presumed dubs decimation of the Cavaliers, this is still an all-time great team. It’s a former champion and a consistent championship contender. Having a stack at the final table – even if you’re not the chip leader – is a great position to be in. It’s great when you’ve got LeBron James as the ultimate team leader no matter what the Warriors have. I know it’s a painful moment to be in as a Cavaliers fan, but try and look at it with an outside perspective. This Cavaliers team shocked the world when they beat the Warriors. They were ahead of schedule, but we all thought they were still growing. Even though this year they were leap-frogged by Kevin Durant’s free agency decision, it doesn’t mean that the Cavaliers can’t still develop, get better, and overtake the Warriors sometime in the future.

It really sucks to be second best a year after being proven the best, but it’s still worthwhile in the larger timeline.

Second Best by Pedro the Lion

You know why.

“Second best, oh, second best
I can learn to live with this
Plus, I really need a rest
After all, what’s wrong with second best
What’s wrong with second best”

  • mgbode

    Exactly. When it is 2-party, it become us versus them more readily than “us versus them on this and those guys with us on this other thing and…”

    Governing is secondary to winning now, sadly. Maybe it always was.

  • mgbode

    Agree it comes to getting it done. There are conservative views of ways of doing all those things that can work (and I think work better) but instead there is pandering and whining and neither side willing to just figure stuff out that happens to be really complicated because of everything built into it.

    OK, it is Friday, cannot get this worked up on a Friday…

  • nj0

    I can’t say I’ve followed Corbyn or the UK election that closely, but from what I’ve read it sounds like he has been able to craft a populist version of progressive politics. Exciting and, hopefully, the left on this side of the Atlantic will take a break from smoking out the Reds in their midst and actually notice.

  • nj0

    I knew we were in trouble when Trump touched that Saudi palantir.

  • jpftribe

    The people chasing the Ruskies are not really “left”. I’m hoping 2018 starts the process of replacing them, as has seemingly started in the UK.

  • nj0

    Agreed on Qatar. It is part of a larger trend too: an emboldened Saudi military asserting its power in the region (with US support, of course).

    The “terrorist” attacks in Tehran seem like quite the coincidence as well. Speaking of timing: just a month ago, Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said that SA would “work so that the battle is for them in Iran”. And last week, it was reported that Michael D’Andrea, who is staunchly anti-Iranian and a convert to Sunni Islam, is heading up the CIA’s Iranian operations. As Kennedy said, may you live in interesting times

  • jpftribe

    One of my best trips was to Istanbul. I hired a late 20’s Muslim tour guide and we spent the whole day with him touring the city. Incredible day.

    We went to Topkapi Palace and he was pointing out artifacts currently being held there that are required for a Caliph to take power. He was very proud to explain they are being held there to prevent the Saudi’s from forming a Caliphate. I’m not saying this true and we should send Indiana Jones over there, but it is a real live example of how deep the distrust in the Saudi’s is over there. They believe that part of their existence is to keep them out of power.

  • humboldt

    What’s nice about Corbyn is that he’s basically espoused the same principles in public service for decades. In other words, he hasn’t merely “packaged” progressive politics for this election cycle, but has, rather, continually embodied a set of values/principles that are now resonant a large and ascendent segment of the electorate (esp the young). Politically speaking, Corbyn is about aligned with Sanders on domestic issues, but his foreign policy is even more progressive. He is anti-imperialist, and has long stood for Palestinian rights. I first heard him at an anti-war rally in Edinburgh when I was studying abroad in Scotland in 2003. He’s a principled dude, and has long been fighting the good fight.

    And yes, clearly the scare tactics around socialism, and the efforts to conflate it with communism/totalitarianism have failed. People are no longer frightened by the very word but rather drawn to the promise of the democratically elected government investing in collective wellbeing rather than serving corporate power and the wealthiest 1%.

  • humboldt

    Should probably throw in the Libertarians and Anarchists just to keep things interesting 🙂

    Also, there is a currently a rift between “leftists” and “liberals”. This article is quite illuminating (https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/06/the-difference-between-liberalism-and-leftism ). In fact, I’d highly recommend the magazine Current Affairs. It is leftist but quite fair and wide-ranging in its critique

  • humboldt

    Bode, I’ll throw you a bone. I think the left should do a better job of talking about family values, and shouldn’t be afraid to invoke Christian morality in its platform. There is much about Christ that is admirable and informs the values/principles of leftist thought. In other words, there are elements of traditional conservatism that I think the left could learn from and embrace–and I don’t just mean that in a cynical sense. There’s a lot that conservatives get right; I’m a big Eisenhower fan, in fact 🙂

  • humboldt

    Kennedy also had it right when he wanted to scatter the CIA into a thousand pieces

  • mgbode

    I read a fair amount of CA articles. Agree they lean, but they let you know it and are honest about their evaluations.

  • mgbode

    Thank you, and there are many things the Left does a much better job discussing too- especially the past few years. The think tanks used to be a conservative stronghold, but the more detailed ideas have been coming from the left as of late. Also, if both sides would stop pandering to the extremes, most of the major issues (healthcare, racism, etc.) would be found to be agreed upon on both sides- how we fix them is a whole ‘nother issue, but compromises can be made in policy if everyone is working together.