Of Cleveland’s many narcissisms, one that comes off as particularly nauseating is the fact that the failures of their sports teams actually have names.
The Shot, The Fumble, The Drive, 1997, it just goes on and on and on.
But enough is enough.
Generally speaking, when something has a name, it's because it's something worthy of respect, adoration, or singularity.Things that would fall into this category would be human beings, places, pets, or even historical eras.
But Cleveland gets to be an exception.
Did the state of Utah make reels of the ’98 NBA Finals, highlight Michael Jordan’s shot over Byron Russell and name it “the push-off”?
Have you heard of anyone in Philadelphia making reels of the Eagles/Cardinals 2009 NFC Championship game, focusing on what should have been an obvious pass interference call when Kevin Curtis failed to make a critical catch after being clipped by Roderick Hood? If so, maybe they should dub that “the no call.”
Did Chicago make a clip after the ’98 Finals named “the retirement”?
But none of that matters to Cleveland. Nowhere else have we seen a group of people document their miseries and failures in such a sappy, overly dramatic fashion. Well, at least nowhere else in America.
And you thought the ancient Greeks were masters of tragedy.
So multitudinous are Cleveland’s miseries, so cursed are they by the gods, they feel that these merciless displays of apathy from the heavens must be documented and shown to the world – endlessly.
All these burdens and more were lain at the feet of LeBron James in hopes that he would pick them, shoulder them, and eventually free thousands of people from their decades of despair. I guess when Cleveland decided to replicate Greek culture, they missed the memo that they didn’t have to do it so literally.
Come on, putting the entire world on LeBron James’ shoulders? Atlas, anyone?
It's almost comical. A fan base and team that, prior to LeBron James, had been so humble for so long, turned arrogant in a flash, only for them to either fall silent or revert to seeking the world’s sympathy immediately after their newest failure. It was sickening.
Prime example: Mo Williams.
The guy had been quiet as a church mouse prior to pairing with James’ Cavaliers in the 2008-09 off season. He played his game strictly on the court, rarely if ever, had a bad word to say about anyone, and if he had a sense arrogance about him, he wasn’t known enough for it to be public.
Yet last year, the same season he joined and rode LeBron to a 66 win season and two sweeps of injury-riddled teams in the playoffs, Williams felt entitled to guarantee a series victory over the Orlando Magic.
He even went as far as to say, “We’re the best team in basketball.”
Williams’ pride didn’t allow him to see that he was insignificant to his team’s chances of winning. In fact, his bravado was the only newsworthy thing he did in the series.
This year, much more was at stake.
With LeBron’s pending free agency and the Cavaliers at risk of being eliminated in game six against the Celtics, Mo would finally turn it all around, right?
While Mo Williams scored an impressive 20 points in the first two quarters of play, he was held to two, count 'em, two points in the final half.
Does that sound like a man who should have ever been popping off at the mouth?
Quiet now, isn’t he?
These are these are the kind of players Cleveland management surrounds LeBron with.
Take Shaq, who continued his quest to find a ride to the NBA Finals, and came here to “win a ring for the king”. Yet, this post-season he posted career lows in virtually every statistical category, except one – turnovers.
Point out, if you wish, that Shaq also logged a career low in minutes, but to do that would beg the question: why?
Didn’t the Cavaliers bring Shaq over specifically for his reputed overall post-season production? Didn’t they bring him in to scrap and get those loose rebounds, to be a defensive force on the inside and to add to the spacing of the opposing defense, freeing up Cleveland’s three point shooters?
He failed miserably on all the above.
These are the players LeBron James is supposed to transform into champions. What’s worse is that some of Cleveland is even starting to turn against him.
An ESPN.com blogger said: “I watched LeBron completely give up last night. He showed what he thought of the fans here with that. Let him go. Hit the road, Jack.”
I could cite a dozen posts like those. Even for Cleveland, that self-pitying, self righteous, self aggrandizing city, it's surprising that they have turned on its “savior” so quickly, especially after giving him so little to work with.
In the end, it probably doesn’t matter. My guess is that LeBron James will be too proud to let his goal of bringing Cleveland a title end so anti-climatically, as impossible as that goal may be. I just hope I’m wrong, for his sake.
I’d hate to see him wind up on Cleveland’s next edition of pity reels.
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