As Team LeBron prepares to face Team Stephen in tonight’s 2018 All-Star Game out in Los Angeles, James’ new team, Cavs 2.0 may spark his Eastern conference champions to another title run.
Hard to believe that not even one week ago, that the Cleveland cavaliers—always a center for rumors and drama—were bordering on proverbial life support as they were stumbling through a rather forgettable sub .500 stretch in January and early February. And there were rumors of in-fighting, bickering, lack of chemistry, lack of cohesiveness, players checked out mentally and LeBron leaving.
If you’re a lifelong Cavs fan, it had to be really hard and difficult to stomach blowout losses on national television to Oklahoma City, Houston and unfathomable head-scratching ones vs. the likes of Orlando.
You had embarrassing and humiliating losses against Toronto, Minnesota, close ones against the pesky Indiana Pacers, NBA Finals rival Golden State and long-time nemesis, San Antonio.
You had reports and rumors of LBJ having tense verbal exchanges with members of the Cavs front office and Dan Gilbert looking to sell the franchise. You heard the whispers of James bolting for sunnier star-studded pastures grow louder and into a loud crescendo after every stinging defeat.
And after hitting their proverbial nadir in a 18-point loss to the Magic, after leading by as many as 25, the wheels were set in motion for The Trade.
Per ESPN’s NBA insider, Adrian Wojnarowski, Cavs first-year general manager, Koby Altman engineered a daring set of moves, while confronting and challenging James—in a rare in-person meeting—to become more of a vocal leader of the team, in what is truly an excellent piece of insider basketball journalism.
Should the revamped Cavs go on to claim their franchise’s second NBA title in three years, what happened after that may cement him as possibly one of the NBA’s brightest young general managers in the game.
Out were Isaiah Thomas, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder and in were Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Rodney Hood and NBA Slam Dunk runner-up, Larry Nance Jr.
Out were all the malcontent, disinterested, self and me-driven players who looked more to cash out, and in were hungrier,motivated and athletic players who wanted to run—both figuratively and literally—with The King and his court.
Don’t believe me? Watch any game from early this season, as opposed to the ones with the newly arrived Four Horsemen?
The enthusiastic exuberance from a newly rejuvenated LeBron, a clapping bench and a team that looks like they want to win for each other is clearly more evident over a bunch of older vets just looking to cash and collect their next game checks.
Since arriving from Los Angeles, Sacramento and Utah, Cavs 2.0 is 2-0 with two very impressive road wins at Boston and Oklahoma City—and both were also on national TV. Not to overly-emphasize Cleveland being in the national spotlight,but the old crew treated the bright lights with the same contempt that Dracula treated sunlight.
But what Cavs 2.0 has now that they didn’t have before is a younger, fresher more athletic team that can run, play defense, guard on the wing and seemingly want to play, as opposed to just being there.
With promising rookie Cedi Osman getting more playing time, along with Kevin Love set to return within the next 3-4 weeks,things could get really interesting in The Land.
It may be early and only two games, but sometimes a fresh approach and mindset can jar the system and senses into doing something rather extraordinary and unexpected.
Cleveland winning the 2018 NBA Finals would certainly qualify as that.