It's hard to define what a good fan is, but being a fan of a professional sports team or city comes in all shapes and sizes. Some people are pessimistic and when it comes to Cleveland sports that's a pretty understandable mindset to have. I mean, my parents are turning 60 this summer so they were 8 when the Browns last won the championship and it's hard to truly appreciate that as an 8-year old. That's close to 120 full seasons in three professional sports since the last Cleveland championship. So blind pessimism when it comes to Cleveland sports makes sense. Being down 2-0 to the winningest team in NBA history and being pessimistic? That's just being rational.
But then to keep coming back to games, keep watching on TV or listening on the radio, one must keep some hope alive somewhere. And for some (dumb?) reason I've managed to stay optimistic in my life as a Cleveland sports fan. Hell, I'm still holding out hope for Anthony Bennett's potential.
My mom grew up going to games with her father on the shores of Lake Erie in the crappiest stadium imaginable, with poles blocking some of the seats, and staring at those poles might've been preferable to watching putrid Indians' teams with her father on nights when there were fewer people in the stands then a Division 3 high school football game in the area. Yet we keep coming back for more.
My mom's dad was told last week that his colon cancer came back, and this time it was fatal. My Grandpa has always gone through phases of watching tons of Cleveland sports to saying "why would I want to spend my time watching that?" (He would still watch though.) I figured he would say he didn't really care much about sports after his fatal diagnosis. When I walked into his room at the nursing home for the first time after the diagnosis, though, he had the Tribe turned on (even with the game an hour into a rain delay) and the first thing he said was "Do you believe how good this Lindor kid is?"
If you watch the Indians, it's not hard to see how Francisco Lindor's combination of his Vizquelesque fielding coupled with his timely hitting and infectious smile and pure joy for the game give Cleveland fans some hope. We left the room and I didn't bring up the Cavs until close to leaving but on the way out my Dad asked my Grandpa if he was going to watch the Cavs in Game 2. My Grandpa's response? "Of course. 8 o'clock right?"
Luck is also something that's hard to define besides being a random occurrence of events. But however you define it, it isn't surprising to anyone rooting for the Cavs and Cleveland sports that the best roster in the 46 year history of their franchise has to end up facing the best team in NBA history (please stop arguing this. It isn't hyperbole. 73 wins when the league has more talent than ever).
All of the small occurrences that brought this perfect Warriors team together at the worst time for Cleveland. Draymond Green somehow being passed over 34 times in the draft before hearing his name called and using that motivation to transform himself into arguably the most dynamic defensive player in the NBA. The Minnesota Timberwolves taking two point guards in the draft before Steph Curry was taken and Steph turning himself into the greatest shooter we've ever seen.
Shaun Livingston possibly being on the way out of the NBA, being waived by the Wizards before the Cavs picked him up and finally getting consistent minutes and showing he could still play years after his horrific leg injury. But then Cavs GM Chris Grant saw Jarrett Jack play great ball for an early iteration of these Warriors in the playoffs in 2012 and stole Jack away with a 3-year $18 million deal and Livingston moved on to Brooklyn. A year later, the Warriors still needed a replacement for Jack. They signed Livingston. And on and on to come together to form one of the greatest teams in the history of sports.
So we go down 0-2 and get blown out for a second game in a row and a lot of fans feel like it's over. I get it. We're dead in the water. You wake up the next morning and feel like crap and think about how badly we lost and how hopeless the Cavs' chances look. But then maybe just a tad bit of hope starts to creep back in. You remember the Cavaliers were actually up a point towards the end of the 3rd quarter in Game 1 in Oakland and maybe if things play out differently, the Cavs pull that one out. And you start thinking about the Cavs being down only 8 and Steph Curry picking up his 4th foul with 9 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter of Game 2 and maybe if things had gone a little differently the Cavs could've made it a game instead of being blown off the court. And you watch Richard Jefferson play two of his best games of the season by giving everything he's got because he knows how hard it is to have a chance to win a ring and how these chances may not come again.
And yeah, the Cavs absolutely need a better plan for attacking the Warriors otherworldly defense that has been switching everything, leaving basically no open looks anywhere on the 3-point arc and no space to operate anywhere within. And while I like the Cavs plan of shading their whole defense to stop Klay and Steph, they absolutely have to execute the plan better and cannot give up some of the wide open backdoor cuts they've been surrendering.
Kyrie has to start knocking down some shots. LeBron has to take better care of the ball. Maybe the Cavs do all this and still come up short. You could even say they probably still would. But we're not done until the Warriors win 4 games (or go up 3-0). We have arguably the best player to ever play the sport playing for us and while he's been subpar (by his standards) so far, I know I'd never count the Akron native out. Because we have to keep hoping and keep watching until we can't anymore. That's the best definition of fandom I can give.