Cavaliers Can “Rise Above” Tonight

Warning, there are a few not-so-safe-for-work words thrown in this video:

We are born with a chance
Rise above
We’re gonna rise above
I am gonna have my chance
Rise above
We’re gonna rise above

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us it’s no use

–Black Flag – “Rise Above”

Back in 1981, Black Flag released their debut full-length album ‘Damaged’. The opening track, “Rise Above”, is one of the greatest punk rock anthems of all time. Whenever I am feeling beat down, overwhelmed, down in the dumps, or wallowing in my own pool of self pity, I can always put on ‘Damaged’ and by the time “Rise Above” is over, I feel energized, full of life, and filled with the will and resolve to take on the world.

For LeBron James, tonight is his chance to Rise Above. After sitting there for 2 days listening to the media and the fans alike rip him and his legacy to shreds, he can atone for it all tonight. And this is the beautiful thing about the NBA Playoffs. Whether it’s Kevin Garnett telling us “Anything is Possibllllllllllllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” or the league itself telling us the NBA is “Where Amazing Happens”, the anticipation of the unknown combined with the possibility of greatness gives us more reason to believe than any other sport.

In no other major sport can one single player have a greater impact on the outcome of a game. Pitchers in baseball and goalies in hockey are close, but both positions are primarily defensive positions only. But in basketball, a player like LeBron can choose to lead his team on both sides of the ball. His fingerprint is all over a game. And that’s why I can’t give up on this team yet.

I have no idea what’s going to happen against the Celtics tonight. I’d like to think the LeBron James I’ve seen play night in and night out for the last 7 years will be the LeBron James we see tonight, but there are no guarantees. Still, none of the doubt or uncertainty is enough to dampen my spirits heading into this game. Perhaps time will prove I am merely playing the role of the hopeless fool, but I still believe in this team and I still believe that LeBron James is capable of delivering a Championship to this city. This season.

Look, we know there are problems. There’s nothing the Cavs can do as far as I can tell about defending Rajon Rondo. I see no answer there. Antawn Jamison isn’t suddenly going to be able to push Garnett around on defensive. Ray Allen is still the scariest pure jump shooter I’ve seen since Reggie Miller. Brian Windhorst mentioned in his preview that we could see some more rotation changes. As Scott so masterfully pointed out earlier this week, between game adjustments are where Mike Brown excels. I hope some adjustments such as reducing Mo’s minutes (although I would reduce Parker’s as well) and playing Jamison at the 3 to give Varejao more minutes defending Garnett while keeping Antawn on the court will help.

Maybe we’ll see less Shaq and LeBron on the floor at the same time. Perhaps Z and LeBron will share more minutes so Z can at least attempt to draw some defenders out of the paint a little more than with Shaq in there. Perhaps the Cavs will come up with a couple plays where LeBron actually receives the ball in scoring position below the FT line rather than just always handing it off to him at different points around the perimeter. Perhaps Jamario Moon and JJ Hickson will play a few more minutes.

Ultimately, though, there’s only one change we want to see. We want our LeBron back. We want the guy who most of us had unquestionable confidence in. We want the man who could sense whenever this team needed him to take over, and who would promptly then do just that. We want the passionate LeBron.

There’s a defiant streak within LeBron. I’ve seen it in him plenty of times over the last 7 years. He will not be dictated to and he has little care or interest in how others think he should play. He’s a self confident man who is stubborn in his beliefs on how he can best dominate games. That defiance can work one of two ways tonight. Either he decides to Rise Above the public criticism and reclaim his throne on top of the NBA, or else he can defiantly stick with this lethargic facade to the detriment of this franchise. It’s ultimately up to LeBron to decide.

As I said yesterday, I know something is wrong with LeBron. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know if he’s going to be able to overcome it, but I am behind him 100% as a fan. I have to believe in him and support him because it’s the only way I can in good conscience expect him to return the loyalty back to me in the form of a colossal Game 6 performance. And no, I am not so arrogant as to believe that he cares about one individual fan such as myself or that if he goes out and dominates this game it will be because I was there cheering for him all along the way. I guess the point I’m really trying to make is just that there are still plenty of reasons to support LeBron and the Cavaliers and to have confidence that this team can still win.

For some, tonight’s game is battle similar to Armageddon. I’m sure plenty of people across this great country believe Bill Simmons that this could be the End of Professional Basketball in Cleveland. When Kareem left Milwaukee, the Bucks didn’t die. When Shaq left the Magic, Orlando didn’t lose their team. So I’m not ready to get all post-apocalyptic on you over this single basketball game. Sure, if the Cavs lose and LeBron leaves, the franchise returns to mediocrity and insignificance. But there will still be plenty of us who still care and cheer for this franchise. So for tonight, I’m only concerned about this one game and I can leave all the hyperbole and embellishment about the future for another time.

Even Game 7 can be a thought for another time. All I want is for one night….tonight’s game only….for not just LeBron, but this team as a whole, to dig deep and find the fire within themselves to Rise Above all the distraction, negativity, doubt, pressure, and criticism and remember to just play basketball the way they are capable of. Everything else will take care of itself. I’ve always said that in the game of basketball, as long as you have the best player on the court, you always have a chance of winning. No matter how stacked the odds are against the Cavaliers, I want this moment to be our rallying cry. May Game 5 be our Alamo. May this series be our version of the 2004 ALCS where our demons and curses are exorcised forever. In the flash of a moment everything can change forever. Rise Above, Go Cavs!!

(Scott edit: Just a heads up, readers.  I”ll be live on WMMS between 4:30-5p to discuss the Cavaliers with the kind folks at The Alan Cox show.  Tune in to 100.7 or stream via WMMS.com!)

  • Lyon

    Now that’s a motivational speech

  • LaundroMat

    Keith Morris was the superior vocalist for Black Flag.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Rick

    WAS IT OVER WHEN THE GERMANS BOMBED PEARL HARBOR??

  • Roosevelt

    Hear hear!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    I agree LM. “Nervous Breakdown” is still my favorite Black Flag recording. And I suppose ‘Fix Me’ could have been an applicable song for this occasion, but I felt that ‘Rise Above’ is the more motivational song.

  • Kevin

    Please Cavs…please win tonight. Signed, Everyone on the Ledge

  • Jewpants

    TV Party Tonight!

  • buu

    holy cow just seeing a youtube video for “rise above” got me amped. awesome call.
    cam i aso recommend some vintage bone thugs n harmony?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrBsa7M7F8M

  • MP34

    Damn right!

    @Rick, hahaha. Great quote.

  • Swig

    You are on the way to Boston to give the pregame speech, right?

  • MrCleaveland

    Here’s hoping that the Cleveland Curse and the SI Cover Jinx (Shaq’s on the new one) will cancel out each other.

  • Brett

    Love the Black Flag reference Andrew. I’ve been listening to Operation Ivy since Monday’s debacle to get motivated for tonight. I’m not ready to give up hope just yet.

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    LaundroMat and Andrew — If this wasn’t already my favorite Cleveland sports blog, it is now. Morris’ version of “Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie” is amazing.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    Edited into the post above, but for those that don’t follow me on Twitter (aside from the obvious “why not!?), I’ll be live on WMMS around 4:45p today to talk Cavs. Tune in – 100.7 or WMMS.com. Thanks!

  • creative

    ONE TIME CAVS

    ONE TIME

  • http://www.TheConstantComplainer.com The Constant Complainer

    Don’t play “Z” and our chances of winning increase. Sorry. Sad but true.

  • Billy Thomas

    I wish I shared your same optimism. Lord help this city tonight. We deserve much better after all these years. I for one am not going down with the ship. I will not watch tonight which I have never missed a Cleveland playoff game in my life. It just hurts too much to watch. Its very sad how this has all gone down.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ creative – I know it’s not really fun to get ahead of ourselves, but shouldn’t we be going all Fugees “Two time!” ??

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    How dare you strum my pain, Denny!

  • TSR3000

    Billy, I considered trying to not watch it as well. I predict we will both be glued to our TVs around 8:05.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    I’m not going to be able to watch the first half, and that pains me. Would the pain of losing be lessened if you don’t watch, Billy? Not quite sure I understand your decision to quit watching NOW.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    After tonight’s beatdown, Boston is going to be JEALOUS AGAIN!

    Hey-O!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    And, for whatever this is worth, Boston’s hockey team has blown a 3-0 lead in their conference semi-final series, and the series is now 3-3 heading into a game 7.

    ANYTHING IS POSSIBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEE!!!

  • Matt#2

    I don’t know whether I’m more interested in the game or in the post-game presser.

  • Harv 21

    Any chance that after an unbelievable road playoff win, two days of huzzahs and genuflecting articles in the Globe that the Celts might have a little intensity letdown tonight? They do tend to do that in the 4th quarter, IF (if) you keep fighting.

    There’s a gleam, men.

  • Harv 21

    My pain will be infinitely lessened if the Cavs dog it and I don’t watch. Was that some sort of trick question, DP?

  • Kevin

    @ DP. When you type out possible like that, it looks like you’re saying “Anything is Possibly,” and then I imagine Kevin Garnett screaming that, and then I smile.

  • Kevin

    P.S. We need an open thread tonight…for therapeudic purposes.

  • MrCleaveland

    @15 and 25,

    Ha haaaaa, love the Sam and Marty references. Let me add one:

    Okay, men, it’s a process!

  • bigredwitness

    Andrew can we get you to Boston to deliver this speech to the team before the game?

  • Trickles

    As Bill Pullman would say:

    “Cavalier… that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences any more. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps it’s fate that today is an elimination game, and The Cavaliers will once again be fighting for our city’s championship. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from elimination. We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist — and should we win the day, the 13th of May will no longer be known as another day, but as the day when Cleveland declared in one voice, ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive.’ Today we celebrate our playoff resurrection!”

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    Needs more “Any Given Sunday”. ONE ——- INCH

  • Matt#2

    This sitch is surreal.
    I feel like I’m in a Dali painting.
    Maybe because I watched that Doors documentary last night.

  • stin4u

    I feel like I’m at the top of the hill on Millennium Force as the worst lightning storm in the history of northern Ohio rolls in….either I’m going to die…or have the greatest ride of my life starting at 8pm. go cavs.

  • Matt#2

    stin4u,
    Valkyries are flying in from Pelee.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Get some revenge for the Tribe in 2007. Break their hearts like they broke ours. There is no tomorrow. If they play balls out there is no question we can do this. As long as the “real” Cavs show up, I’ll be watching basketball again on Sunday. GO CAVS!

  • Harv 21

    Guess I’ll start watching but if they go all flat-effect again I can’t watch. Not again.

    (Manic depressive much?)