Growing up in a small town is awesome because as a kid, you had way more freedom. You could run to your friend’s house without your mom worrying. You could skateboard and ride your bike everywhere because there were no busy roads. You just had a ton of friends because everybody knew each other. Unless you’re new to said town.
Most of my formative years were spent in Wadsworth, a small northeast Ohio suburb. My family moved around a lot before this stopping in places like Pittsburgh and Nashville and Cincinnati before moving up here when I was 12. Middle school sucks for most people and I was definitely no exception. I was the new kid. I had no friends. I had this awful haircut that I’m sure I thought was cool. I was starting to get zits all over my stupid face. Things were not optimal, but they did get better.
Like most kids, I loved video games and I tried out for sports and band soon after school started just to try and make a friend group I could stick with. It turns out I wasn’t a complete dipshit and was actually alright at something thanks to hitting my growth spurt before everyone else. So, my life basically started to revolve around sports and band and video games. I made it work as I transitioned to high school but I still struggled to maintain a consistent group of friends.
There was also this team I dunno if you’ve heard of them but they’re called the Cleveland Cavaliers. And when I was settling into Wadsworth they were a big deal throughout Northeast Ohio because of one man and one man only: LeBron James.
Basically, if you didn’t root for the Cavs, or at least have a good reason not to, you were the odd one out at my school. Everyone rooted for the Cavs and LeBron made it cool to do so. Those Cleveland teams were how I befriended one of my best friends thanks to him admiring a puppet LeBron ‘Witness’ shirt. That friendship led to a tight-knit group soon forming with the Cavs being the common unifying factor.
The funny thing is when LeBron first left Cleveland, that group only became closer with what remained of the Cavs. My buddies and I would get together and watch every single game. We would cheer for Luke Harangody and bought into Samardo Samuels’s weight loss. We even watched every single game during that awful winning streak and went absolutely nuts when they finally ended it in an overtime win over the Clippers. We all still have a poster, a little sun-faded now, that showed the 2011-12 team and we hung it with pride because the Cavs were our team.
Those moments we forged together have formed bonds that’ll never be broken. Sure, college and growing up has made a lot of us go our separate ways but we still keep up with each other and the Cavs are usually the first thing we talk about. Like, the moment the team won the championship in 2016 the first thing I did after my brother peeled the sobbing mess I became off the floor was text those friends because I knew they were celebrating too. That’s awesome. Especially considering a basketball team is the reason why these friendships formed. Not many people can say that.
They’ve also have given me a lot of friendships that I never expected either. When I started covering the team, I felt overwhelmed by the Cavs online community. There were so many people I had followed for years, and that I genuinely looked up to, so I again felt like the new kid in a small town. But, whether it was through writing or podcasting, those people I once considered idols now became lifelong friends all because of one team: the Cavs. As this team continues to evolve and grow, I imagine these friendships and relationships will too. And for that, I’m forever thankful.
Now, the Cavs aren’t perfect and I have a lot of issues with them currently. The Collin Sexton discourse is garbage, but the second the team tips off I’m still fully locked in. And the only reason I have this amazing escape, and so many wonderful friends, is because of this team. They gave me a lot and it’s why I’m still so passionate about covering them on a day-to-day basis.
I’m not really sure what the point of this story is but I guess just be generous. Be kind to people because you never know how much they might need it or how far it’ll go. I haven’t really written from the heart a lot lately, but I’ve been super sick for the last week (non-COVID related, thankfully) so I’ve been thinking a lot about this team lately and wanted to share it with you. The Cleveland Cavaliers mean a lot to me and I’m sure that’s really obvious at this point. But, they’ve helped bring me and my friends closer together and that’s super important. I’m super grateful they exist. I hope they mean a lot to you too.