Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Monday, October 25, 2010

Play underdog or rollover

On paper this year’s Cavaliers team seems built for my wheelhouse.

It has all the makings of an underdog sports movie

On the verge of a championship, their superstar teammate quit on them. He took his talents elsewhere and basically called his former teammates a bunch of losers.
What is left in the locker room is collection of role players who are now missing the linchpin. There are a few aging all-stars, some hungry young players with a lot to prove but mostly filler.

They have been written off and disrespected.

Enter a coach who knew what it took to win a ring as a player. As a coach he took his former team to the finals twice before his star player betrayed him and got him fired.

Rather than stand around and watch the hyped chosen one, the new coach is preaching a team concept. Constant movement. Relying on each other as brothers. No one is bigger than the team.

Gone is the flash. No more lighting it up like Las Vegas. It is blue-collar time for a hard knock town.

While Mr. Primadonna is hanging with his new South Beach pals and turning into a complete villain, the team scraps and fights and aims to sneak into the playoffs where they will meet their former foe.

That is the Cleveland sports dream isn’t it?

It is a story that we can certainly buy into.

One national pundit from the largest online sports site has predicted that the Cavs will win 12 games. For a point of reference, the Cavs won 17 games in the 2002-2003 season in a year they tanked in order to get the most ping-pong balls to draft the player formerly believed to “The Chosen One.” Last season the Cavs won 12 or more games in a month three times.

A prediction of 12 wins for a season — never has there been bigger bulletin board material.

This is the type of team Cleveland rallies around.

The truth, however, is I haven’t watched a single second of the Cavs preseason and I watched just about every game of that 2002-2003 season. I spent most of my youth watching really bad basketball.

I am hoping that Wednesday night when the season starts for real, the passion of and grittiness of Byron Scott’s team will spark my enthusiasm.

The 1984-85 Cavs were the favorite team of my youth. They started 2-19 but rallied to make the playoffs where they gave the Boston Celtics all they could handle before losing.

The Cavs have no chance to win a championship this season but I think this season could one where fans fall in love with a team. Gone will be the hype, the fancy handshakes and posturing. There will be no chants of MVP but hopefully a deep respect for a team that doesn’t quit.

Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer is the writer who made the prediction of 12 wins and if you read the whole article he shared the reason for his prediction. He really believes the Cavs are a 28 or so win team. He believes the Cavs need to blow it up completely and trade Mo Williams and Antwan Jamison. That the best thing the Cavs can do as an organization is waive the white flag and play like it is 2002-2003.

They don’t make movies about quitters but Dwyer isn’t wrong. In NBA you need to be contending or at the top of the lottery, the mediocre middle is a wasteland.

So what would you prefer? Blow it up, lose as much as possible and pray the this time the ping pong balls produce the real deal and hope the front office can find the right pieces parts for that superstar? Or have a team of Spartans that give everything they have and die on their swords knowing for certain the season will end with a loss and delay even longer any hope for a crown?

I have lived my whole life without a championship. Rolling over and hoping everything breaks right may be smarter but I don’t like the taste.

Lace ’em up and pass the manual for the Princeton Offense.