No matter how bad the Cavaliers have been in the post-Decision world, I always walked away from each season with one indelible memory. Baron Davis tossing a lob to Alonzo Gee for a thunderous dunk against LeBron James and the Miami Heat while the wound from the Decision was still very open and raw. A rookie Kyrie Irving twisting through the Boston Celtics to drop in his first ever game winner in only his 19th game as a pro. Kyrie Irving, now one year older, donning a black mask to protect his shattered face and slicing up the New York Knicks on his way to dropping 40 points under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
But this year? I've got nothing.
Instead of some awesome on the court moment that I'll look back on favorably with nostalgia, all that comes to mind when I think of this year are images I'd really rather forget. The endless Mike Brown debate. Having to squash stupid rumors about Dion Waiters breaking Kyrie Irving's face in a fight. Anthony Bennett missing shot after shot after shot and blowing dunk after dunk. The infamous "pick and stroll" from the same game that saw him dejectedly walking back up the court after blowing yet another dunk in embarrassing fashion and missing the entire possession. A text from a friend I got one Saturday morning saying that Andrew Bynum was suspended indefinitely and that he had played his last game as a Cavalier. Chris Kamen laying down on the bench while the worst Lakers team in history demolished the Cavaliers without enough men to field a proper team on the second night of a back-to-back. The news breaking about Chris Grant being fired the following day and the ensuing dread and uncertainty around what would happen to the team. The Cavs forgetting to show up and getting demolished by the underwhelming New York Knicks on national television.
It was bad. Really, really bad. Even the good moments were quickly ruined in some way. Kyrie Irving earned his first-ever All-Star MVP and minutes later Adrian Wojnarowski drops an article obliterating Chris Grant and the Cavaliers front office. The Cavaliers trade for Luol Deng and then we find out he apparently aged 10 years during the five hour trip from Chicago to Cleveland. The Cavs went on their longest winning streak since the LBJ days, but then promptly lost the next three games to teams fighting with them for playoff positioning. The Cavs somehow got one last shot at the playoffs and get steamrolled by the Hawks putting the game out of reach by the end of the first quarter. Every time it looked like the season was turning a corner and things were starting to get going, the Cavs lost their momentum and everything slammed to a stop. This is the season that never really got started. The season where cautious optimism would be stoked just long enough for it to be painfully extinguished in an embarrassing fashion that would cause us fans to go back to waiting for everything to start all over again. And start all over again it would -- just to end in the same embarrassing way over and over up until this season finally, mercifully, ended.
Maybe the moment that will join Baron Davis skipping up the court pointing up the skies while Alonzo Gee hangs from the rim in the annals of my mind will be from the night of the 2013 NBA Draft. Sure, it wasn't an on court moment, but it summed up the entire season in a way I couldn't appreciate at the time. I was at a local watering hole surrounded by fellow Cavs bloggers and Fear the Sword readers. There we were, waiting for David Stern to take the podium and announce his last ever number one draft pick before retiring. I was surrounded by the people who cover and read about this team on a daily basis, all waiting anxiously to find out who would be joining the wine and gold. And then, all at once, we heard David Stern say those words. " With the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select.... Anthony Bennett!". And then it happened. Me, David, Mourt, Patrick, @WayneEmbrysKids, Ben Cox, @Nominataur, @TeamRobHogg, all of us uttered our first "huh?!" of what Ben Cox would later dub "The Season of Huh". As bizarre and mind-boggling as that choice was, five minutes later we went right back to joking around and having a good time. By the time the night was over, I had seen David drunkenly yelling in Russian to celebrate the pick of Sergey Karasev and had a thoroughly good time, despite the fact that Chris Grant had just sealed his fate.
I think that's the lesson of this season. No matter how bad this team is, or how disappointing the season winds up being, there will always be a dedicated core of awesome people trying to find something fun about the Cavaliers. Cavs Zine isn't going to be canceled because Anthony Bennett had the worst rookie season of any number one pick in history. People (mostly Boosh) aren't going to stop making ridiculous photoshops and gifs if Kyrie Irving turns down a max extension and subsequently gets traded. Hell, if Dion actually does punch Kyrie in the face at some point, I'm sure they'll make a series of gifs that makes me laugh out loud. The Cavaliers could go on another historic losing streak and people would still want to go meet up to watch a game, eat tacos and shoot the shit. Even in a season as bad and underwhelming as this one, there will always be a community of fans around this team which will give you moments to remember fondly.
And with that in mind, no matter how next year goes, I'm sure I'll have something to remember.