Admiring Tristan Thompson’s streak: While We’re Waiting…

Tristan Thompson Cleveland Cavaliers
Scott Sargent/WFNY

Tristan Thompson did not play for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. The end result, even without his rebounding and defensive prowess, was a spectacular 114-91 romping of the Boston Celtics on the road. But the absence of Double-T also marked the end of his 447-game consecutive appearance streak. It seems appropriate to look back over this stretch of time—on that has spanned since February 8, 2012—and admire what has taken place since.

That was the 2011-12 season, which was the rookie year for both Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving. It was the lockout-shortened season, which only included 66 games. Thompson missed just six Cavaliers games: Jan. 24-25 and Feb. 3-8. That’s it. He then played the final 42 games of the season, all 82 games in each of the last four seasons, and then the first 77 in 2016-17. That’s how it all added up to 447.

Who played the second-most games in a Cavaliers uniform during this stretch? That would obviously be Kyrie Irving at 355. No surprises there. But the next-most after that are an odd bunch, considering the franchise’s roster turnover: 216 for LeBron James (re-signed in July 2014); 215 for Matthew Dellavedova (undrafted free agent in 2013; traded in July 2016); 208 for Kevin Love (acquired in July 2014); 186 for Alonzo Gee (traded in June 2014); 164 for Dion Waiters (drafted in June 2012; traded in January 2015); and 163 for Iman Shumpert (acquired in January 2015).

Who were the forwards who played instead of Thompson on Feb. 8, 2012, and what was the end result of that game? Well, I’m glad you asked that question:

Recall that the 2011-12 Cavaliers surprisingly started 13-17. They then collapsed in the second half of the short season and went only 8-28 the rest of the way. Of the 10 players who played that game for the Wine & Gold, only Ramon Sessions and Omri Casspi remain on active NBA rosters just five years and two months later. Although Sessions had knee surgey in February, Casspi has been banged up, and Alonzo Gee has had some 10-day deals too.

Thompson deserved some rest, in the end. It would certainly have been more ideal if it didn’t take an injured thumb for that to happen. But he’s been struggling over the course of this season and that was easily identifiable in the numbers just last week.

So kudos to you, Double-T, on a historic 447-game run. It’s wild how much has changed for Tristan and the Cavs since that mostly unmemorable night of Feb. 8, 2012. And now that the streak is over, the pressure is off to keep it going into the future. It’s going to be extremely unlikely any Cavs player comes anywhere close to this anytime soon and it’ll be a fun piece of trivia we can always remember. But the real heat will return soon for when everyone will need to be ready in the playoffs.

Random thoughts from the sports world:

  • I published an interactive Tableau dashboard over the weekend that enables you to project the career-end points and assists for LeBron James. The stats are as of Friday night’s games. Do you think LeBron has a chance at passing Kareem Abdul-Jabaar? Then do the math with his remaining number of seasons or exact number of games, and his remaining points per game average, and see where he could fall.
  • I’m really excited about the Cleveland Indians. They’re going to be phenomenal; the first three games of the season were a absolute blast and as fun as they could be. They’ll win mid-90s-plus games and run away with the AL Central … and then the playoffs will be a crapshoot, as it is every year. In the 22-year MLB wild card era, wild card teams are 23-21 in the divisional series. So even if (!) the Indians snag the AL’s top seed, it’s 50/50 from there on out. So it’s kinda hard to balance my actual fandom and excitement with eventual #doom for the playoff uncertainty. It’s like the inverse of non-doom feelings for LeBron James.
  • My favorite fun fact of the last week: Yandy Diaz became the first Cleveland Indians player to make his MLB debut as an Opening Day starter since Andy Allanson in 1986. Diaz, who is very ripped, batted .317/388/.451 in 99 Triple-A games and .311/.417/.404 in 158 Double-A games. Diehard Indians fans and writers were clamoring for him to get an opportunity all throughout the offseason and spring training. He’s already 25, which is a bit older than a typical rookie, but it’s because he was signed in just 2013 after defecting from Cuba. You should absolutely read Stephanie Storm Lariccia’s Akron Beacon Journal article on Diaz from 2015.
  • On the last week of college basketball hires: I’m OK with Anthony Grant at Dayton and I’m very pleased with John Groce at Akron. Dayton fans are a special breed. They always think highly of themselves. And it was always going to be an impossible task to replace Archie Miller after his sensational six-year run. Anthony Grant was merely OK at Alabama. His teams got beat from Brian Gregory’s Dayton Flyers. So it’s not too inspiring off the bat, besides the sentimentality of a Flyer returning to coach his alma mater. On the other hand, kudos to the Zips. Groce is a hell of a hire for them in replacing Keith Dambrot after his 13-year tenure. I was not very optimistic about this search, either.

Various sports links from around the webs: