Make no mistake Cavs fans, this was a breakup and we were the jilted lovers. We’re the ones still standing by the altar, flowers in hand, waiting for our prince charming to show up and give us what we have wanted all our lives. But he’s not coming because he has run off with our younger, better looking sister. And so we continue to wait.
That’s what life as a fan of the Cavaliers (and really, Cleveland sports in general) is like. We are the proverbial bridesmaids forever waiting for it to be our turn to be the bride. Now we have to deal with the aftermath of our very public and humiliating breakup that took place in front of the whole world on national television. I can think of no better way in the world to begin the healing process than by turning back to NBA basketball and the games themselves. And that brings us to tonight.
While the rest of the world awaits in eager anticipation for tonight’s tipoff between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, many fans in Cleveland are stuck with a dilemma on our hands. Do we watch the tipoff tonight, or do we avoid it?
I’m sure for a fair number of fans this is an easy decision, one way or the other. Plenty of Cavs fans will probably simply not watch it and not think twice about it, content to just wait until tomorrow to watch the Cavaliers play. For others, they’ll probably just let it go and watch the game and not worry about the constant reminders.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t really want to watch the Miami Heat play basketball. LeBron James serves as nothing but an endless memento of the relevance that was lost in Cleveland. On the other hand, there’s not many matchups more fun to watch than when LeBron and Paul Pierce go at each other.
Yet, going back to the breakup scenario, who really wants to be around their ex-lover after such an ugly breakup? Do you really want all your friends and associates relentlessly reminding you of what happened and mercilessly pointing out why you were never really good enough in the first place? Who needs that kind of aggravation, right?
The problem is, though, until we can accept what happened, we can never truly move on. I don’t want to be bitter about this NBA season. There are so many threats to my enjoyment of the NBA right now, from the potential lockout to talks of contraction to the way teams now build these super teams, that I can’t afford to let my own feelings of rejection affect my ability to watch this game.
So above all else, tonight marks the beginning of closure. At some point this season, the subplot will shift, both on the national level and on the local scene. So much energy has been spent this summer on dissecting what all went down that it became exhausting. I know from feedback that you, our readers, are so sick and tired of reading about LeBron James and the Miami Heat and the fallout of his departure in Cleveland. I share in that frustration as I, too, am suffering from LeBron fatigue as a writer, which is yet another reason why the start of the NBA season is a much needed distraction. The only problem is that said distraction also happens to be the source of my need for reprieve.
So it goes for Cavaliers fans. It’s a new season. Tonight we begin to finally be able to heal and move on, and that’s why I’m going to force myself to watch the Heat play the Celtics tonight. The Heat and LeBron are so ubiquitous throughout the NBA that their presence will be inescapable this year. From NBATV coverage to a minimum of 15 minutes of every SportsCenter dedicated to the Heat to ESPN’s new “Heat Index” insanity to coverage on almost every blog throughout the NBA blogosphere, we won’t be able to get away. So the sooner I get used to it, the sooner life in the NBA will feel normal again.
It’s going to be bittersweet tonight for sure. With all the excitement a new season offers, we will have to balance it with one last reminder of what was also taken away from us. And you can say maybe LeBron deserved to have the choice of playing with his friends. You can argue that the organization deserves this for letting LeBron run wild over the franchise for the last 7 years. You can argue that the team didn’t do enough to put the talent LeBron needed around him. But what you absolutely cannot argue is that the fans of the Cavaliers deserved any of this.
Cavs fans have always been underrated and over looked. Cleveland is a better basketball city than most national pundits realize. For the last 7 years, though, there was no denying the quality of basketball fans in Cleveland and throughout Ohio as a whole, really. Cavs fans turned The Q into one of the toughest and loudest arenas to play in and the fans’ support of LeBron James and the Cavaliers never really wavered too much beyond the occasional Yankees hat scandal.
So no, Cavs fans didn’t deserve any of what happened this summer and it certainly seems unfair that not only did they lose their local hero, but now they have had to be reminded of it almost daily. So even though the NBA tipoff tonight is a celebratory event across the nation, it will be a bit of a bittersweet affair for fans in Cleveland. The good news, though, is that the path to redemption begins tomorrow in Cleveland. So, I say, Go Cavs, and here’s to a great season of basketball in Cleveland!