Cavs Strike Gold with First Pick in Draft, Have Chance at Vindication

Zach MentzContributor IIIMay 18, 2011

Cavaliers forward Jamario Moon celebrates with Cleveland fans by high-fiving them
Cavaliers forward Jamario Moon celebrates with Cleveland fans by high-fiving themGregory Shamus/Getty Images

July 8, 2010. That’s when it all changed for Cleveland Cavaliers fans. LeBron was gone forever, and the aftermath was not pretty.

Losing a player like LeBron hinders your franchise and makes it more difficult to do a lot of things – like win games.

Everyone knew that the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers weren’t going to be nearly as good as they had been in previous years with LeBron, but not many predicted that the Cavaliers would finish with a mere 19 wins, two more than the lowly Timberwolves.

The Cavaliers set the new NBA record for most consecutive losses with 26 in a row, finished with a road record of 7-34 and didn't fare much better at their home Quicken Loans Arena, going 12-29 at home this past season.

Despite all of those statistics that prove how futile the Cavs really are, there is one statistic that amazes everyone even more: The Cavaliers finished the regular season ranked third in home attendance behind the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers.

Cleveland sports fans have been through it all. Whether it’s “The Drive,” “The Shot,” “The Fumble” or most recently, LeBron’s very own “The Decision,” Cleveland fans have suffered more than any other fan base in the entire world.

And back on July 8 of last year, when it seemed as if the world of sports had truly hit rock bottom in Cleveland, Cavaliers fans proved that Cleveland fans may be the most resilient fans in all of sports.

Shortly after LeBron ditched out on Cleveland, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert publicly promised to his fans that the Cavs would win an NBA championship before LeBron would win his own title in Miami.

While anyone with any common sense knows that that more than likely is a promise that won't be fulfilled, at least Cavaliers fans, and Cleveland fans in general, can pride themselves on being the most resilient, and perhaps the most diehard fans in all of America.

By winning the NBA Draft lottery and being awarded not only the first pick in the draft but also the fourth, Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers finally will begin a new era.

An era where Cavaliers fans have come to terms with "The Decision," and instead are now focused on rebuilding the team from the bottom with their draft picks.

While the stigma throughout most of the country is that you don't want to play in Cleveland, I find it hard to understand that logic.

Cleveland has fans that are passionate, fans that embrace their sports teams and their respective players to the fullest, only asking for the same in return much like Joe Haden and Josh Cribbs have embraced the city.

With their early draft picks in next months NBA Draft, the Cavaliers finally have a chance to vindicate themselves, to begin a new era.

Whether it be Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams or whoever the Cavaliers decide to draft with their picks, the athlete drafted should be excited when he gets the call from Dan Gilbert welcoming him to Cleveland.

Why is that?

Because Cleveland fans have every right to be miserable, and no one would really blame them if they just folded the cards and gave up on the Indians, Browns and Cavaliers entirely.

Rather than doing that though, the city of Cleveland refused to cower out and instead proved why Cleveland fans are so great.

Sure, on the field, our teams might not be the most competitive or impressive, but when it comes to the fans, there’s no questioning their heart.

For that, cheers to you, Cleveland fans.