Cleveland Cavaliers fans take heart.
You probably don't want to hear anything at all from a Boston Celtics fan right now, but I swear that I'm not here to rub it in.
The first thing to do this morning is to look at some of the facts:
- Mike Brown is, and has been from Day One, an NBA example of the "Peter Principle." If you're not familiar with that, look it up, and you'll probably agree.
- Shaquille O'Neal's signing was always specifically designed as a means to limit Dwight Howard's productivity in an anticipated rematch of last season's Eastern Conference final. Not one credible NBA analyst thought this was a good signing for any other reason. Many thought it short-sighted and reactionary.
- Adding core rotation pieces at the trade deadline is generally not a best practice. Your Cavs already had one of, if not the best, record in the league when they added Antawn Jamison, and promptly inserted him in the starting lineup. Why?
- LeBron James has been messing with you for three years. The "will he or won't he" dance that started when he signed the short contract should have hinted at a problem. He either wanted total control of the team (which he got), or he was seriously thinking about leaving (which he likely will).
- Letting one player (guess who) hijack your team, and force management to make silly moves to keep him happy is, again, not a best practice. Every single move for the last three years was predicating on making the "King" happy. That's no way to do business.
- Letting one player (same guy) dictate your style of play, and impose his will on your so-called "head coach" is not ideal. From the day he arrived, James has had the ball in his hands. Everything goes through James. That automatically makes the team easier to defend in the playoffs.
Enough with the negativity. These things were obvious to those not in love with the Cavs, and to those not paid to love all things LeBron James.
(On a side note: Do you think it was a coincidence that Charles Barkley stood nearly alone in the media with his damning criticisms of the Cavaliers offense/coaching for the last three years?)
Let's go bright-siding now:
- James likely leaves. Tell yourself that this is a good thing, because it is.
- When you start to think that "Professional Sports in Cleveland Are Dead" or some other dark thoughts , remember these two words: Detroit Pistons. The Pistons won a title, and contended for several more, with no transcendent superstar, and in an undesirable free-agent destination. It can be done.
- The groundwork for a winning culture has been laid. Cavs fans now expect to win, at least in the regular season. Good things can come from that if you don't overwhelm it with despair.
- Coach Brown likely gets fired. This is awesome. Not for Brown, obviously, but it's good for you. Brown might yet be a good NBA head coach, but he's not there yet. Let him learn on the job somewhere else.
- Danny Ferry should go bye-bye. If I were a ticked-off multi-millionaire with a team that showed no heart in the playoffs, I gut the place. There are at least a half-dozen players I'd keep—the rest, and the management team, take a walk.
- You'll never again abdicate your team to a boy. The next star free-agent who comes to town (and there will be one someday) must fit the system. Speaking of which, you'll get a coach who imposes a system.
- If you don't have two or three uber-stars, you need a very solid point guard. An actual, table-setting point guard. You'll get one. You build from there.
- Lesson learned—championship teams are grown, not created. Sure you can get lucky and add two sure-fire Hall of Famers and create a "Big Three," but that isn't terribly common these days. Again, Detroit Pistons. It'll happen...chin up.
I was always fond of the Cavaliers, and a big fan of the Mark Price-era, but I rooted against you from the day James arrived. However, you'll get me back to neutral the day he leaves. That probably doesn't comfort you that much, but not having Smitty root against you can't hurt.
Curse King James, curse Ferry, curse Brown, then move on. Show the team that you still care, and that you now expect real change.
Change you can believe in, not some fairy tale about a "Ring for the King."