Tuesday, June 16, 2015

NBA GAME 5: Two Takeaways & One Huge Game at Home

   Maybe you’re like me?
   During this playoff run — and especially in the NBA Finals — the day after a Cavs win, you get nothing done.
   You’re glued to sports-talk TV and radio[1].
   You read tens of thousands of words of analysis on the Internet and/or actual newspapers[2].
   Unsated, you happily tumble down social-media rabbit holes.
   You even break down and talk to people, jibber-jabbering with profligate abandon both on the telephone (weirdly enough) and in person (weirder still!).
   You even dare wonder how much money you’d spend on NBA Champions gear and then hate yourself for jinxing everything and then click on some other website or go bother some other person willing to listen to your hot take on last night’s big win.
   But after a loss?
   It’s … weird.
   You’re pouty.
   Awash in avoidance.
   You don’t want to say anything about the game, read anything[3] or think about it.
   You tell yourself it’s time to put away the childish things of your silly, immoderate fandom and get some real work done.
   Unless your real work is writing a blog like this. In which case, you, like me, would no doubt spend your day the way I just spent Monday — in a funk of weary, procrastinating denial.

   Given a day to process Cleveland’s Game 5 loss to Golden State, I have two takeaways.
   First, for my money, the worst moment was also the best and the happiest, the most gorgeous and exhilarating.
   With less than 10 minutes remaining in the game and the Cavs down 75-72, LeBron James drives into the lane, the Warriors defense collapses on him, he kicks the ball out to the perimeter, where his teammates zip what seems like 10 quick passes[4] before it gets back to him and he finds Iman Shumpert for a wide-open corner three.
   Tie game!
   About two minutes later (after two buckets by LeBron, a floater in the lane and a three of his own), the Cavs even led, briefly and for the final time, 80-79, before utterly collapsing down the stretch and losing 104-91.
   But there can be no argument that the Shumpert trey was the zenith of the game for Cleveland. It was a perfect specimen of the kind of offensive reign of terror this team is at its best.
   It was an increasingly frequent sight, until the departure of Kevin Love in the Boston series and utterly absent after Kyrie Irving went down in Game 1.
   How beautiful it was to see again.
   And what torture to behold it and wonder what might have been.

   My second takeaway is this: Moral victories are for losers.
   Dozens of times the past few days, I’ve heard even fellow Cleveland fans — especially them — talk about how great the Cavs will be positioned to win next year. I’ve heard more speculation about offseason free-agent contract issues (Love, Thompson, Delly, etc.) than I have X’s-and-O’s chalk-talk about how to reclaim the control of the tempo of the game that the Cavs had in the first three games of the series.
   This morning, a friend of mine — lifelong Clevelander and a knowledgeable fan — actually texted me to ask what’s better for LeBron’s legacy: to have swept the Warriors with a healthy Irving and Love or to lose in seven with what’s left.
   Seriously? C’mon man. The former!
   Who am I to hold a grudge against LeBron — quite the contrary! — but I don’t give a damn about his legacy[5].
   I care about winning a title in Cleveland.
   After 51 years of waiting for next year, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s be present. Let’s savor the agony and the ecstasy of the moment.
   We’re home.
   We’re playing tonight, two games away from a championship.
   If you’re like me, that’s all that really matters.   // Mark Winegardner

[1] Except for all programming involving Steven A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd and Tony Kornheiser-free Michael Wilbon, because, seriously: How are any of those guys still a thing?
[2] If, like me, you’re, say, 53 years old. Otherwise, yeah: Just online.
[3] Typically, the newspaper stays on the stoop or in the tube, untouched.
[4] It was only three.
[5] That’s not entirely true. I do. But not yet. Not right now.

1 comment:

Tammigirl said...

Yes, yes, and yes!