Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It All Begins Tonight

As CST's self-proclaimed "biggest Cavs fan in the world" and accused " half-glass empty typical Cleveland fan", I can't help but admit I have an uneasy feeling just hours before the 2010-2011 NBA season kicks off. The new look, new era, LeBrat-less Cavs will wait until tomorrow to begin shocking the world, but TNT didn't wait long to force feed us The Three Queens, as the Miami Heat takes on the long time heel turned babyface Boston Celtics squad tonight to kick off the season.

After a long, emotional summer, I fear that the (sweet lies) bitter truth (shout out to CST contributor Doug) hit me Sunday morning while sipping my coffee, watching the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and reading The Plain Dealer's Cavs preview section. Maybe I am a paradox of myself - the half glass empty Cleveland fan, wearing his rose colored glasses, looking for anything to grasp on to. Maybe I've been kicked in the balls too many times by the Sports Gods. All I know is that I've definitely lived through the five stages of grief (which I've done countless times before) since The Decision:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
And on Sunday #5 hit me like a ton of brinks: Acceptance.

Anger has not subsided by any means. I'm bitter and I hope the Heat fail miserably. But reading about the Cavalier roster caused a conflict inside of me, like when the Dark Side almost consumed Luke Skywalker. Now don't get me wrong - I never thought about rooting for the Evil Empire, led by "Mr. I'm going to tamper right in your face and there's not a damn thing you or David Stern are going to do about it" Pat Riley, but the difference between succeeding in the NBA and losing is a fine line. It's a line in the sand between relevance and irrelevance.

Searching the roster, amid the PD's "preview" for something to be excited about was actually a difficult task. Antawn Jamison is 158 years old with a bad contract but looks more like 168. Mo Williams has the heart of baby lamb, plays no D, but is a decent player who's best as a sidekick to a superstar. Anderson Varejao is a role player who benefited from you-know-who and can create his own shot about as well as me. We have two undrafted rookies that I'm supposed to be excited about, which is more of an indictment of our roster than anything. Our most exciting facet? Probably the head coach.

I really do think the Cavs will be better than the worst team in the Eastern Conference or the third worst record of all time that has been predicted by certain media outlets. I think they can fight for the 7th or 8th seed. But that, at the same time, is my biggest fear. In the mid 90s under Mike Fratello, we saw this play out. Just good enough to make the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a good draft pick. That's the kiss of death in the NBA. The equivalent of being stuck as a wrestling mid-carder, occasionally getting to work a program with another mid-carder to open SummerSlam or Survivor Series. I don't want to be the NBA's Tatanka. Do we have to job in order to get another push? It's looking like we have no choice.

It's tough to be me right now. The kick off to the NBA season has, especially for the last seven years, been like a holiday. I sang, I danced, I was merry. But today I'm scared... real scared. I'm torn between proving everyone wrong and banging my head against the wall (although being from Cleveland - BOTH of those things are a constant).

To quote my good friend and fellow CST contributor SamVox: "I was a Cavs fan before LeBron and I'll be a Cavs fan after LeBron".

Tonight - and this season - could test my mind and soul. But make no mistake about it - LeBrat will NOT ruin the NBA for me. (I'll keep telling myself that).

In the meantime, and until tomorrow - GO CELTICS!