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The Cleveland Cavaliers on the Manifestation of Greatness

A journey through The Impossible, or at least what seemed it.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A simple google search would produce thousands of books, articles and questionable listings of spiritual gurus, shamen and healers claiming to understand the methods in which one can manifest ‘greatness.’

The theory of manifestation — as I naively understand it — claims that we align with our destinies by first becoming ‘one’ with the present moment by way of gratitude. This is most rapidly achieved by engaging in a mental state of calm neutrality, visualizing your goals, believing in them and processing them emotionally as if they were real – like really real. Then – by some divine law-of-attraction magic – the impossible occurs. (A LOT of meditation and hard work sprinkled in there, but you get the idea.)

The Cavaliers began the 2021-22 season like most others in the post-Lebron era. Fans were consuming the all-familiar non-belief, digesting the narrative that ‘greatness’ would probably never again feed into our collective vocabularies. For various reasons, including these, but not limited to:

  • J.B. Bickerstaff isn’t the guy for the job.
  • Collin Sexton has his bags packed.
  • Darius Garland can’t hit the level they need him to.
  • Isaac Okoro is another missed top-five pick.
  • Lauri Markkanen can’t play the three.
  • Cedi Osman is broken.
  • Kevin Love is past his prime.

So when Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman unveiled the #letemknow campaign, many of us agreed it was a bit hard to swallow. We laid our napkins on our lap and dove in like we always do in Cleveland, spooning up every bit of hope we were served. The visionaries and dreamers in us knew the chef in the kitchen had an interesting item delivered on July 29th. We thought, maybe, he had a vision too – an essential ingredient needed to achieve greatness.


I spent the cold, winter nights of 1989 mostly in the basement with my father fussing with the antenna. Sometimes we’d opt for audio dessert served up by the legendary Joe Tait, driving in a dark snow globe to pick up my mom from night school at The University of Akron. My mother, who lived by the idea that “there’s no such thing as luck,” was the ultimate manifestor.

In the car waiting for her, my 7-year-old brain had never processed humans with this much power, capable of producing this much belief in both my father and the animated, raspy-pitched announcer.

“WHAM with the right HAND!” We were hooked.

The Cavs went on to win 57 games that season.

Then, the impossible.

1989, with grief
We knew — in real time – we were living through a moment of greatness.
***

My dad left my house at half time on Father’s Day in 2016. The seven-point deficit left too much space for an inevitable soul-crushing heartbreak. He had never fully-recovered from ‘The Shot’ and all the hope that was sucked from the blue veins of his little girl’s heart. Being a Cleveland fan is brutal, and he was the one responsible for pulling me in.

“I feel like if I leave, we will win,” he said, head down, hands in pockets, biting his lower lip.

LeBron – eventually carrying a Finals team down 3-1 — understood a thing or two about greatness. Back in January he had a message: “I’ve seen it all, so I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low about it.”

Flash to June – immortalized by shiny black shades and dangly white earbuds – LeBron didn’t believe any more, somehow he knew.

“I know we’re down 3-1, but if you don’t think we can win this series, then don’t get on the F***in’ plane!”

LeBron huddled his deflated underdogs — who indeed boarded that plane — and his message was calm. “Appreciate and enjoy the moment, don’t take any of this for granted.”

Then, the impossible.

2016, with relief
We knew — in real time – we were living through a moment of greatness


Making the first commercial break, popping that No.3 lotto ball, Cleveland was geeked. Delighted by the potential of this shy, lanky 19-year-old seven-footer delicately paired with an equally-towering counterpart —we panned back to the bigs of 1989, we folded 2016 into our shiny, new courts.

We made t-shirts, and we discussed naming conventions. We created hashtags. We tuned in, then we tuned in again. Having lived through greatness on both sides, we stayed calm and neutral. We appreciated the wins, and we appreciated each other. (s/o #cavstwitter)

We were playoff dreamers again.

We started believing because our team was acting strangely like LeBron. With calm, joyous appreciation for the moment, they were acting like they knew.

“There are steps to that and we can’t skip, but I think we’re falling in love with the process of doing that, and myself included,” Love said. “We want to enjoy this in the moment now, but there’s definitely something that is bringing a lot of joy here and a lot of fun outside of just winning. I think it’s building something bigger than ourselves for sure.”

  • J.B. Bickerstaff isn’t the guy for the job. is that dude.
  • Collin Sexton has his bags packed. will heal.
  • Darius Garland can’t hit the level they need him to is elite.
  • Isaac Okoro…another missed top-five pick. looks like an elite defender.
  • Jarrett Allen is a Big Apple throwaway. an All-Star.
  • Lauri Markkanen can’t play the 3 is banging threes.
  • Evan Mobley looks promising, but Cleveland is already loaded with bigs. is a baby GOAT.
  • Cedi is broken. renewed.
  • Kevin Love is past his prime alive and well.

We now know — in real time – we are living through a moment of greatness.

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