I used to think I knew who all the good guys and bad guys were. I have used these pages to talk about LeBron James and what his alleged hands-off approach meant to the Cavaliers’ potential free agency and trade maneuvers. I’ve used these pages to lob criticism at Dan Gilbert for having an ego that I expect all billionaires to have, let alone the ones that also own sports franchises. And yet as we wait out the NBA All-Star break for more Cavaliers basketball, we await a fun, new team that shouldn’t have been possible if my previous (mis)conceptions are to be believed. It’s kind of a wake-up call.
I still think Dan Gilbert has a huge ego, but I mistook that fact for some kind of self-destructive arrogant bent that I thought would allow him to push LeBron James out of Cleveland. LeBron still might leave, but the team that exists today might very well be the best possible attempt at a case for LeBron James to stay. The same guy who had somehow emptied my personal hope meter hired Koby Altman and stayed out of his way to enable him to pull off what seems to be a rejuvenation, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
We’ve seen roster turnover before, but to compare this to Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, and Joe Smith is nuts. These guys don’t have star power, but Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and George Hill is very different. These are guys in mostly in their primes with time to spare. To pick just one example, in Larry Nance Jr. the Cavaliers get a sentimental name and also a player with tremendous upside potential not only because of who he is, but because of just how well his skills compliment LeBron James. Nance doesn’t dominate the ball and he has the kind of disruptive, youthful energy to give the best player in the world extra possessions (defense and offensive rebounding) when the game is on the line.
I was hard on LeBron James, but now in this nearest hindsight, it appears that his leadership abilities took an unfair hit. LeBron was never going to be able to lead a group of former stars who felt like they were LeBron’s peers. Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas, and even Dwyane Wade weren’t going to be easily led in some sort of deferral to LeBron. In Nance, Hood, Clarkson, and Hill, LeBron has guys who will actually appreciate his ability to make them better and help them take their games to new heights on much larger stages. These are the team-building dynamics that I was blinded to in the misery of the last few months of Cavaliers basketball before the trade.
I’m just really thankful for it all. I don’t think this team has the power to beat the Warriors more than maybe 10 times out of 100, but it’s joyful, rather than joyless. I never realized how miserable it could be to watch the greatest athlete in my Cleveland sports lifetime until I saw the return of Isaiah Thomas and what that “era” yielded. With this new era, we might not see the championship parade return to Cleveland, but we might just see the return of LeBron James. We also might not, but I feel a whole lot better about it today than I did just a few short weeks ago. More than ever I’m reminded just how little I know even as I read every stitch of news and rumor. If any of that was to be believed this kind of roster makeover wouldn’t have been possible.
My Friend Wants to Teach Young Adults of the World…
One of the most influential non-parental figures in my life is a boss I had for a job I had in college. This guy is smart and quick and has a no-nonsense sense of humor. He says things so plaintively at times that you feel silly for not seeing it his way from the beginning. I’m not saying he’s always right, but his batting average would be MLB hall of fame level. He’s my friend, so I tend to glow about him. Whatever. He’s decided that his two young adult daughters need to learn a lot of practical life stuff that isn’t in standard high school and college curriculums. He decided to start with credit cards and I think it’s both entertaining and a public service. I take some of this knowledge for granted now, but I wish I could have watched all of these videos in high school and early on in college. Check them out, subscribe to his channel and share them with any adult kids you think could use some entertaining education.