Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Win was needed for healing process

After the embarrassment that was December 2, I imagine that most people — like me — pretended to downplay the importance of the Cavs’ matchup on Tuesday against the Miami Heat.

The date wasn’t circled on a calendar and plans weren’t altered to make sure there were no distractions in watching the game.

In our heart of hearts, we desired vengeance but it seemed silly to ask for, let alone expect.

Someone in the Cavaliers organization held hope and used a scriptwriter’s touch to have the game be Baron Davis’ first start as a Cavalier.

If Cavalier fans are going to identify with a player on this roster, it will be Davis. He has a chance to reinvent himself and the Cavs were hoping this game would cement a love affair waiting to happen.

More karma hung in the air; Joe Tait was back where he belonged in his radio perch. It was his first chance to call a game where LePippen was the enemy.

Tait really has no business being back at work but he refused to let his health end his career. He made a commitment to retire at the end of the season and not in the middle. Tait worked hard to go out on his own terms instead of quitting at the first sign of adversity. Something LeQuitter could have learned from a true Cleveland legend.

A legend which we discovered only after the defection that LeMoron spent the last seven years snubbing.

And then the game started and Davis hit a three. For the rest of the game it was everything Cleveland fans wanted back in December.

Ryan Hollins knocked LePippen to the ground. Some guy named Gee threw down highlight reel dunks. J.J. Hickson showcased his potential. Davis and Anthony Parker provided leadership.

The best part was not the 23-point lead. No, it was the Heat making a run to tie the game at 85 and having the Cavaliers respond down the stretch to win by pulling away.

The best way to describe the afterglow of the victory was that it felt like a Browns win. Even more it felt like a Browns win over the Steelers.

In baseball and basketball, regular season wins lose individual importance. Often the next game is just 24 or 28 hours away.

But with a Browns win — everything becomes better for the rest of the week. Food tastes better. Air smells better. Nothing anyone does can bother you.

It has been a long time since a Cavalier win felt like that. Not since games five and six of the Pistons series in 2007. After that glorious high point, no regular season win for the Cavs could compare. We knew the post-season was the real test.

In 2008 and 2009 the Cavs fell behind early in the playoffs to the Celtics and Magic and it was always about catching back up.

In the grand scheme of things, the Cavs win over the Heat doesn’t mean much. It is just one of 15 wins on the season. Yet on the other hand, it may be the most important win in the history of the franchise.

I heard someone say Tuesday’s win wasn’t big deal because December 2 happened the way it did. I will argue the opposite.

This was better for the city and the franchise. The team needed to be embarrassed. Management needed to wake up and see this as a total rebuild and a not fix on the fly situation.

Bryon Scott looks to be the right choice to lead this team into the future. The team will be young the next few years and they will still lose more than they win. But this win got the fans back on their side. They won’t have to do it alone. The community will stay with them.

The humiliation of this season’s long losing streak will fade fast. A top three draft pick will soothe that pain. But the city of Cleveland needed this win to allow the healing process for the fans to truly begin.

We will always boo LePippen, but watching him slither onto the bench in darkness instead of being introduced will tame the hatred some.

The would-be king had another empty triple-double. He will pile up the money and stats for the rest of his career. He may win a title — thanks to help of others — but he will never be loved. Not like he was. He is to be pitied for that, not hated.

The city, the franchise and the fans got some closure. Hurt will always linger but we are now ready to fall in love with someone else.