Cleveland Cavaliers: How The Season Was Over Before It Started
The Cleveland Cavaliers are not this bad.
No team can put together a streak like we're witnessing in the mediocre, watered-down
modern day NBA because of poor fundamentals, missed free throws or lack of rebounds.
The Cavaliers are not the worst team in history; they are an organization devastated from the lasting effects of the traumatic event of losing the face of the city and franchise.
LeBron James had every right to leave Cleveland as a free agent. However, the lingering effects of the way his orchestrated departure was carried out are the main factor contributing to the season we are all witnessing.
LeBron's decision left his teammates in shock, a coach in regret and a city broken.
Losing LeBron was a blindside hook to the chin of the franchise. In hindsight, it was always coming, we just chose to ignore it.
The dedicated, hard working fans of Cleveland have weathered these storms before and once more we fell, together.
Halfway into the 2011 season, in the midst of extending a professional sports record in futility, it's becoming clear that this was no ordinary punch: This was a knockout blow.
When you lose your best player, it hurts. When you lose the face of your franchise and ambassador of your region, it's devastating. When that person represented the motive of your new coach, the heart of your locker room and the will of your veterans to capture an elusive title, it was a death sentence.
LeBron James is a great player. When he retires one day and his jersey is hoisted to the rafters of some city, he may be the greatest talent of all time.
Despite this, I can not credit the Cavaliers' dire situation on the loss of his talent alone.
The impact of his decision went much deeper and affected far more people than just himself.
What we see before us is the fallout of a tumultuous summer that began the moment LeBron ripped off his jersey and tossed it aside as he walked off the court following the loss to Boston.
Conscious of what was to come, Danny Ferry resigned unexpectedly. In retrospect, he must have saw the writing on the wall. Refusing to allow himself to be pegged yet again as the catalyst of failure, he left. Mike Brown was let go and Byron Scott was hired in moves to appease the return of our King.
The hype surrounding the decision made minutes seem like hours as Lebron fueled the suspense by saying nothing. Held hostage by indecision, the fans organized rallies, made signs and created videos pleading for their hero to stay.
In the end, the carefully crafted summer of decision felt more like a political campaign: Cheap, calculated, almost sinister in nature.
The King seemingly conscious of himself, not his kingdom or his serfs.
The Cavaliers 2011 season was over before it began.
Not even the collective exhale from the most stressful offseason in franchise history could provide the wind that was robbed from our sails.
It's more than just losing one player. The timing robbed the franchise of any alternative action, forcing the supporting cast into a new season void of the player the team was built around.
LeBron is right about one thing: We are all witnesses. We saw a good coach and even better man fired. We saw a former legend hired in good faith to coach an athlete he tried to reach out to, but was denied.
We watched the decision. We felt the heart of a region break. We experienced the desperation of an owner so frustrated by the climax of events that he let his emotions get the best of him.
We watched the Nike sign being removed, in a feeble attempt to erase James from memory.
We witnessed a team have their General surrender to the enemy in the midst of battle leaving them stunned. We saw the hurt it caused in realizing this surrender was calculated long ago. For a few select veterans, we saw a sober reality sink in that there would be no last shot for a trophy.
We are the witness to the events that spelled the fall from grace for our beloved Cavaliers and as fans our only guilt is our passion and loyalty—a testimony not good enough to spare us a long term sentence of losing.
The demise of the Cavaliers this season has less to do with the impact of losing one single talented player than it does with how powerful the impact of broken promises, a defeat in spirit and a loss of hope in realizing you were wrong about someone's character.
For right or wrong, we took this to heart and the result was defeat before the clock started.
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