This article is a long time coming, but it’s also probably a result of two specific things that happened today. First, we elected a new president. I teach government and assorted social studies classes, so it was a difficult day. Some students were very happy. Others were not. I have my own views, of course, but I don’t get any kick out of trying to brainwash kids or act like I’ve discovered some secret formula. People have a set of values and vote accordingly.
I also was perusing the internet and found an article from another Cavs site talking about how Kyrie Irving’s defense is killing the Cavs. Five months removed from an NBA Finals in which Irving made the biggest shot in the history of Cleveland basketball, five months removed of helping the Cavs break Cleveland’s 52 year title drought, five months removed from helping an exhausted LeBron James get just a little bit closer to Michael Jordan ... well I found it a little bit ridiculous.
Except the guy who wrote it was right. I didn’t read the article, so I don’t know if the substance of the article was right. Irving’s play has been a bit short of what I’d hoped for coming into the year, though it’s been mostly fine. To my eyes. But he was right to zero in on Irving’s defense, which has been to this point of his career, substandard. We should be analyzing that. It doesn’t diminish what happened last year. It’s just looking with a critical eye at what happens in games that are played.
After an NBA championship, what is there to complain about? The vast majority of players in the Cavs rotation had at least some important moment or role in the Cavs winning it all last season. Getting worked up about a blown rotation or a game in which someone gets beat up a bit on the boards or shoots and misses just a few too many times felt silly at best, but perhaps even petty.
Here’s what I think I’ve been missing: the regular season, the ups, the downs, the trades - that’s all a means to an end. And the Cavs had the very best end last season, but we don’t follow the game just for the end. All that stuff in the middle is fun. Breaking down roster constructions, figuring out what Kyrie Irving is, is fun. Kevin Love fitting in, and not out, is fun.
LeBron James and J.R. Smith were outspoken about the election, before and after. They were not thrilled with the results. I think they spoke eloquently and passionately about how they felt about the situation as parents and as people. About their values and their self-worth. They get to spend time with the President of the United States tomorrow. I hope it is fulfilling and inspiring for them.
After that, it’ll be back to basketball. Second guessing rotations. Suppressing disappointment over Tristan Thompson’s lack of rim protection. Nitpicking a wildly successful team. I’m ready to get back to that. Real life doesn’t stop, nor should it. But spending some time getting lost in lineup data might make it a little bit more tolerable.