Kevin Love, picking up the offensive slack with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving out, scored 25 points and Dion Waiters added 23, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 106-100 exhibition win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
CLEVELAND - Here we are one year after "The Decision," and the assignment in front of me is to talk about the anniversary of the most talked about man-made sports moment in Cleveland history since Art Modell moved the Browns.
I'm fried. Done. Over. Stick a fork in me. I've moved on, but I will never forget what happened last year. Time heals all wounds, right? As a Clevelander, LeBron's "Decision" and Art Modell moving the Browns are in a special folder in my Cleveland sports mind. They will be the butt of Cleveland sports jokes until one specific time--when the Browns or Cavs win a championship.
I learned a few things this year. LeBron is clearly in second place to me, compared to the Browns moving to Baltimore. It's been more than a decade and I still have an empty feeling for the Browns. The history of this franchise is born from an expansion draft, not from the greats of Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Lou Groza, Otto Graham, or even names like Dr. Dave Mays, Dino Hall, or Bob Babich.
For the past year, the country seems to have been on Cleveland's side, in thinking the former local star left town in an unprofessional way. But, then again, he dragged New York, New Jersey, Chicago and the rest of the NBA into the bash LeBron-a-thon. I've said it before: had LeBron chose New York or Chicago, his PR nightmare might have been confined to Northeast Ohio.
Now, the Cavs have avenged a miserable loss to the Heat, watched Miami fail to win a championship, and grabbed the first pick in the NBA draft. The Cavs are on the clock. What LeBron does in Miami is his business. If you want to root for him now, good luck. But, remember it is okay to root for or against LeBron or any other player, or any other team. It's called being a fan. The ball to produce is in the Cavs court. The time limit on blaming James for setting the franchise backward will be over very soon. The Cavs only have four players left who played with LeBron, and only Anderson Verejao and Boobie Gibson played more than one season with James.
If we learned anything over the last year, it's that "fan" is really short for fanatic. Fans provide the passion that drives these billion dollar sports leagues. Athletes and entertainers know that not everyone is going to love them once they sign a contract for a pro sports team. You can pick any player in any sport that you think is the most loved athlete of all time, and you will find someone who has the passion to root against him or her.
And that's OK.
It's also OK if the rest of the country wants to tell Cleveland to get over it. You have a choice to care about what they are saying or not. How you measure your own passion is up to you.
The best line I read during the playoffs was that Cleveland had 15 chances to win the title this year. Did you ever in your life think you would root for the Bulls' Joakim Noah after he dogged the city? Or Carlos Boozer who turned his back on the Cavs worse than any player in this city's history? Many of you did. You rooted for the Celtics. Boston is the makers of Cleveland sports misery, not the answer for our sports pleasure.
I tweeted "Mavailers" the moment Dallas won the Western Conference finals. People ripped Clevelanders who were on board with that name or "Cavs for Mavs." Good for Cleveland basketball fans for being interested in the NBA finals. No matter what you're reasoning for rooting for Dallas, the passion was still bubbling. It's the same passion that kept people coming to see a team lose a record 26 straight games.
It's one year after the decision was made and new futures are being carved out in so many different directions. The NFL lockout looks like it's about to be settled, the Cavs will have new energy with Kyrie Irving, after the NBA gets settled, and the Indians are in first place heading into the last weekend before the All-Star break. The Indians are in first place. Did I mention the Indians are in first place?
So, one year later, what have I learned? The gloom, venom, and frustration on July 8, 2010 lost its sting. The future is too bright to look back on the past. The lesson is to not let history repeat itself. Placing your city's sports hopes and dreams on one man is a mistake. It takes a team, not a player on a billboard we enabled sports savior status.
Happy Anniversary Cleveland. Move forward, but remember the past. And did you know the Indians are in first place?
WEB EXTRA: DJ Steve Porter's LeBron James remix from the last year:
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