The entire NBA world was watching THE Game last night. The fans were great. They cheered their guys and booed with vigor the traitor James. The fans had great and creative signs and despite the national media praying for violence or an act of stupidity by the fans, those that were there did themselves and their city proud.
However, the team that they paid so much to see laid down, rolled over and stuck their feet in the air like a road kill groundhog at the side of the highway. The team and Coach Scott disgraced themselves beyond anything that I could have even believed was possible.
Let me state my bias up front. I have been a Cavs fan since the city was granted a franchise. I was in the old downtown barn the night they beat the Lakers for the first time. When they sold stock to the public, I bought some to support my team. Even through the bad years, and there were a lot of them, I never turned my back on my team. I also never thought they would turn their backs on the fans but that is exactly what they did last night.
The Cavs showed no support for their owner, their fans, or their city. Worse yet, they proved to everyone that LeBron was justified in leaving them because it is impossible to win a championship with these guys. The problem with that is this roster was put together with LeBron’s consent if not approval because Owner Gilbert handed LeBron the keys to castle and told him to invite whoever he wanted to join him on the floor.
What was the ultimate stab in the heart of the fans was the vision of the spurned Cav players joking and chatting up LeBron like he was a long lost brother rescued from a reality show. The Cav players looked like they were hoping LeBron would pick them as a dance partner next year to play in Miami. But by their sickening play, they cut their trade value by 2/3rds. Right now the Cavs couldn’t get a bag of used balls for Gibson, Williams, or even the young Hicks.
The funny part of that is that it is not inconsiderable that LeBron will leave Miami next season. The team is not playing well with all three big names on the floor. HC Spoelstra played a lot of the first half with either LeBron or Wade on the bench. That move allowed the Heat much better spacing on the floor and eliminated the other 4 standing and watching the 1 play against the opponent by himself. The problem with 3 high priced players on 1 team is that the salary cap leaves little room for the 9 other players. Championships require a strong bench and the Heat do not have that.
Time after time, the Cavs let the Heat leisurely stroll to the bucket and score at will. LeBron had a career night and the game was over at halftime. Owner Gilbert left at half time. He just couldn’t take any more. I spent the evening celebrating one of the greatest days of my life, the birth of my daughter Kristina. It was her birthday so being with her made even this debacle tolerable. I gave up on the team and left her house mid way through the 3rd quarter.
I was particularly disappointed in Coach Scott. He never struck me as a coach that would allow the team to snuggle up to LeBron. Reportedly, one of the assistant coaches told LeBron to leave the Cav players alone. But Scott never took control of the situation. He also did not get the Cavs mentally ready to play this game despite knowing how much media interest the contest would get. That is inexcusable. The championship Lakers teams he played on never would have put up with Bird chatting the bench up during the game. But then it would never have occurred to Bird to do that. He was a great competitor and would never have even tried such a punk act.
The question is where do the Cavs go from here?
Gilbert has to blow this team up. The way this club rolled over for the Heat indicates to me they will have a high draft choice next year. They should also look to move anyone that has any value left. There are a few guys around the league that could help this pathetic roster that other teams might be willing to trade. In addition, Gilbert might hold an open tryout to replace those Cavs that have 0 value and must just be released.
It will cost Gilbert a ton of money because NBA contracts are guaranteed but unless he does make major changes on the Cavs roster between now and the trade deadline, he will lose the majority of his fan base. That base backed Gilbert against the world when he issued the famous email criticizing LeBron. Now he has to show the fans that he has their back and take some significant actions to correct the situation and punish those that contributed to the debacle.
If Gilbert does nothing, the fans should stay away from the Q. By continuing to support this team as it stands now makes the fans accessories after the fact. Cleveland fans have been enablers for bad teams for years. It is way past time that we stop enabling and start voting with our hard earned dollars for effort and pride and against meritocracy and gutless players.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on
and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org.
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