(Editor’s Note: Original content edited to meet INSCMagazine submission and content guidelines.)
By Jeremy Botkin (while I get my oil changed.)
The Cleveland Cavaliers quest to “defend the land” fell short against our newly-minted rivals from the Bay, in the form of a Game 5 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, 129-120.
Looking back on the Cavs 51-31 season in which they proverbially sleep-walked through and minus a lucky Avery Bradley bounce in the East Finals, Cleveland came close to matching Golden State’s near-perfect post-season record going into the Finals, in coming up just short to end the ’16-’17 season.
That being said, I have come to a few conclusions, to help ease the pain of my fellow CLE sports brethren.
1.) We need to re-sign Cavs general manager David Griffin. He is the best in the world at what he does. If it costs you a few extra million to keep you at a championship level, do it.
2.) Kevin Durant is a great player, but he’s not the best in the league. He joined a team that was the best team ever. There is a way to defend KD, but there is no way to defend KD + a 73-win team, not without adding extra pieces.
3.) The regular season doesn’t matter, at least when you have 2 great teams in the form of the Cavs and the newly-crowned champion Warriors, five good teams (San Antonio, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston, Oklahoma City and Boston/Washington) and trash (everyone else not mentioned).
4.) The Kardashian Kurse is real. No doubt in my mind it’s real. Let’s nip this one in the bud quickly. I don’t have 52 years to wait.
5.) Kevin Love is a great player. Anyone saying he needs to go clearly didn’t watch him play. Cleveland couldn’t have gotten to the Finals without him.
6.) Cleveland has a lot of fair weather fans. I always knew it was true, but when I paid $35 for a center court seat for a round 1 playoff game, and the four seats around me were all empty, it hit me hard. There were a lot of empty seats in the arena that day. And there were tons of empty seats at the Indians game that day.
We have grown a “you win me a championship or you are trash” attitude after last year. The Q should have been full. The Jake(real Clevelander will always call it that!) wasn’t full because the Indians haven’t realized what a supply and demand curve is. You have too much supply, to the point where it has eliminated the demand.
7.) Richard Jefferson will go down as a Cleveland legend. He came back for us, the fans. He made the decision at the parade. This was probably his last year as a player, but he will be the next big thing on sports media. I’m sure he will get offers from Fox, TNT, and ESPN.
8.) LeBron is the greatest player in the world. Ever. He continues to put up new records. Averaging a triple-double in the Finals is amazing. Most career playoff points for a guy who isn’t a scorer is ridiculous. Don’t count rings, those are team achievements. Look at the individual accolades when comparing individual players.
9.) The 2017 Golden State Warriors are the greatest team ever, and the only team who gave them any kind of challenge was the Cavs. Sorry ’96 Bulls, you wouldn’t have beaten them either.
10.) The last 52 weeks have been a sports roller coaster in Cleveland. We went from being down 3-1 to winning an NBA championship, to not knowing how to have a parade with 1.3 million people, to a 14-game Indians win streak, to losing two of our starting pitchers in Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, to raising a championship banner at the Q on the same night we hosted a World Series game right next door at The Jake, to blowing our own 3-1 lead in the World Series vs. the Chicago Cubs, to a 1-15 season with the Browns (I was at the one vs. the now-Los Angeles Chargers) to beating Golden State on X-Mas (I was there for that too!) to being down 0-3 in in the Finals, to not getting swept in a NBA Finals record-setting Game 4…that’s a special year.
11.) If you are still reading this, I’m honored, so leave me a comment, and brighten this otherwise gloomy—yet still possibly sunny—day.