As we have done in the past, we wanted our loyal readers to get a glimpse into how some of our pieces come to fruition. This is another in the long line of WFNY email chains taht spawn great debate. This one is a back and forth discussing what seems to be the demise of the Cleveland Cavaliers over the past four days. All of this started kast night after the game, and spilled into the morning.
Jacob: I’m pissed. I’m sure we all are and at this point, it’s going to be gruesome to write about it.
DP: I don’t know what there is to say, other than this team has no heart what-so-ever. You can break down X’s and O’s. Yes, Ray Allen killed them. Yes, Garnett played well. Yes, Pierce finally got going. Yes, they contained Rondo but only for a half. Yes, Glen Davis had a big game.
But, if the Cavs had any heart, they could have put a stop to it. And they didn’t. They basically looked like, “Welp, this game is over. Let’s move on.” Mike Fratello said that LeBron James wouldn’t get any sleep tonight because this game would keep him up all night. I wish I believed that. I think he’s going to sleep just fine.
Denny: I absolutely agree that LeBron doesn’t look like he cared enough to lose any sleep tonight. Conversely, Boston played hard all game. Defense was swarming. Offensively they hit their open looks.
Once again, the Cavs didn’t. When the ball did move (and it rarely did), the open shots didn’t fall. I think that Coach Brown is lost, not because of his shortcomings as a coach, but because he has no idea who on this roster is actually going to play hard on any given night.
I don’t think there’s any main leader on this team. LeBron shrunk tonight. There were points where you couldn’t even tell he was on the floor. That never happens.
DP: I saw him give up the ball and defer tonight more than any game in my memory. I remember a possession where Parker had the ball and tried to break Allen down on the dribble and LeBron just stood there on the wing and watched. Made no effort to go get the ball, made no move to the hoop. It was almost like he knew early he had no jumper, knew he’d have a bad game, and just decided he was OK with it. I can no longer convince myself that he has that “instinct” that guys like Kobe and Jordan have/had to just HATE to lose. LeBron always says he “loves to play the game of basketball” but I’ve never heard him say–other than maybe after losing to Orlando last summer–that he hated losing… certainly not on the level that Kobe/MJ do/did.
Either that, or he’s the biggest drama queen ever and is trying to set the stage for some kind of crazy comeback.
Denny: First of all, LeBron not only didn’t take responsibility last night as Woj pointed out in his Yahoo piece. Even looking ahead should the Cavaliers exit, LeBron will never take responsibility for the fact that his own need for a free agency even this July has contributed to his own demise on the court this season.
I think the players the Cavs have are good enough to win it all, but they could have been even better with Ariza and many of the other names that floated around. Much like LeBron said he only has had three bad games in his career, he won’t take any blame for the makeup of the roster either.
Lastly, I have defended Mike Brown because I was tired of hearing people complain about player rotations. That isn’t to say that he hasn’t been outcoached and out-maneuvered in general strategy by Doc Rivers. Do you know how much it should hurt an ego to say you got outcoached by Doc Rivers?
Andrew: Bunch of over reactionary nonsense.
TD: I wouldn’t call this an overeaction. We lost by 32 on our home floor. They look completely defeated. Even if they win this series, does anyone think they have the look of a champion? No overreaction here – the facts are this team is playing its worst basketball at the worst time.
Andrew: I’m talking about the wholesale writing off of LeBron. Of course we’re going to be mad about this game. It was pathetic.
TD: gotcha…imagine what this city’s demeanor will be like if they lose Thursday night….Its gonna be an epic meltdown. The building certainly sounded like 46 years of anger coming out in that second half.
DP: I was kind of hoping to cull a lot of my e-mails and comments together for a LeBron piece some time today. I don’t want to step over the group, but I wrote a ton of stuff last night in my frustration that I want to turn into an “I no longer care if LeBron leaves” post.
Jacob: DP, if that’s the post you are working up, I’d love to write some sort of follow-up rebuttal. I still care whether LeBron leaves because I grew up in the generation where he is all we have. COuld also stir my thoughts from last night in there too.
TD: have at it…you will get KILLED by the commenters. Be careful what you wish for. WHEN Lebron leaves, downtown Cleveland will become a ghost town in the winter and the Cavs become the Minnesota Timberwolves again.
Denny: I’m in the same “generation” but I don’t care if he leaves either. If he wants to go it’s on him. I’m at peace with that.
TD: do you guys realize that the Cavs organization will be all but dead if he leaves in July? You like watching the Indians? That’s what the Cavs will look like. Last place team with no fans.
DP: Let me rephrase what I mean: I want him to stay, yes. I do. I’m just going to take the approach of: if this is how he’s going to treat a fan-base that has done NOTHING but support him from the jump, and if he cares more about being a star than about winning games, then I’m not going to weep and gnash my teeth if he chooses to go somewhere else.
Denny: This is exactly what I mean as well. I don’t WANT him to leave but if he does, I’ll come to grips with it. Hrs a hell of a basketball player. He’s also a hell of a diva. This isn’t any new feeling – I’ve said that I think he’s got way too much ego for his own good for a few years.
But at the end of the day, it’s just sports. And I realize that the city will suffer, and etc. But for ME, it’s just sports. I live elsewhere, and so it’s really only a sports team connection for me. Which I care about, but there are other things that are more important, in life and stuff. I realize it’s different for you guys.
Jacob: If LeBron leaves, Cavs will gut the entire roster. Mike Brown is certainly gone if we don’t win the title, no reason to re-sign Shaq,and Mo/Antawn are now moveable parts. Team would be absolutely lucky to win 25 games next season.
The only way to build a contender in the NBA is through stars. You can’t get a star by putting a mediocre team out there year after year because you have to find ways to get either the top pick in the draft or make an overly one-sided trade.
TD: JR – Mike Brown is gone 100%. He may be canned Friday. They dont have time to dick around either. YOu have to go to Lebron the day the season ends and say “name your coach.” If he says Calipari, hire him the next day. If he says Phil Jackson, wait until the Lakers season ends and offer him $20 million. You have no choice. The Cavs roster next year of LBJ leaves? YIKES. Dont forget you have no cap room to sign anyone other than keeping LBJ and Shaq.
Andrew: How can anyone who claims to be a fan not care if LeBron leaves. I am at my breaking point with the supposed “fans” of Cleveland teams. One bad series, and make no mistake, this is one bad series, and everyone turns on this team and LeBron. So sad.
TD: not turning on this team at all, but Rock, how can you look at them today and think they are winning anything?
Jacob: Well I had been planning on trying to get everyone together to watch Game 6… But there is way too much tension going on now. Let’s just wait til the next series, if there is one.
TD, Absolutely, that’s the only future this franchise has. Keep LeBron, you have a chance to contend every year he is here. Lose LeBron, and you have to entirely gut the roster and hope you get lucky with the draft as soon as possible.
Andrew: Anyone who says they don’t care if LeBron leaves is turning on the Cavs. The Cavs will not be better off without LeBron.
TD: this is just not any fun.
Anyone else find Lebron’s postgame comments completely arrogant?
“I spoil a lot of people with my play.”
“three bad games in seven years”
Scott: It was the buzz of Twitter postgame. I couldn’t believe he said that.
TD: man did that come off bad. National media is KILLING him this morning.
Craig: I certainly care if he leaves, but it is out of our hands and as a fan I am fatigued by the process.
Andrew: My frustration is with the “I don’t care, let the Knicks have LeBron” mentality that has suddenly taken hold. As if all of LeBron’s stellar efforts in the playoffs to keep these pathetic teams alive suddenly don’t count.
I have zero defense of his demeanor during the last 2 games. None. I’m as frustrated as anyone. But it literally makes me feel sick reading the comments and the way people are suddenly making LeBron into a loser. This guy has had EPIC elimination games time and time again.
DP: But why does he have to let it get to elimination games? I don’t understand why he’s OK with playing like he did in Game 3, but not carrying that over into games 4 and 5. The Cavs could have almost broken the Celtics’ will if they’d come out in Game 4 in the first quarter like they did in Game 3. Instead, the Celtics have learned that they can weather a brief storm, go back to playing their game, and the Cavs aren’t going to put up a fight.
Again, I’ll say that I don’t want LeBron to leave. If nothing else, because I don’t want to hear the jokes and ridicule for the next 50 years of my life. I’m just saying that if IF IF he decides to go somewhere else, I’ve made peace with the fact that it’s nothing to do with anything this franchise has done and is ALL about LeBron wanting to be the center of attention and to make everything about him.
I want to root for a superstar player. Of course I do. But I want to root for one that clearly HATES to lose. And LeBron just doesn’t. That’s really what it boils down to. He likes it when everyone is on his jock, but he doesn’t hate to lose enough to really carry a franchise when they need it. Clearly, the Cavs are better with him than without him. But right now he’s nothing more mentally than a more talented Karl Malone.
Denny: think that there is a lot being misconstrued. As i said I don’t Want him to leave. The team will be (more of?) a flaming wreck if he leaves.
Buy he’s done absolutely nothing to quell any of this. In the past 14 hours, or the past few years. There’s a distinct difference between being a Cavs fan and a LeBron fan.
I’m most certainly a Cavs fan. I will be if he leaves. They’re much much much better with the guy. I’m not hoping that he leaves by any strech of the imagination.
But hrs done nothing to get any sympathy from me. Neither has anybody else on the roster, or on the bench.
DP: Also, Rock: “As if all of LeBron’s stellar efforts in the playoffs to keep these pathetic teams alive suddenly don’t count.”
Of course they count. But, I don’t think the last two years’ teams were “pathetic”. Orlando was a bad matchup for them last year, and they’ve clearly wilted under the pressure this year, but LeBron is definitely a part of both of those things. I honestly wonder if he’d re-signed this year if this team wouldn’t be playing like Orlando is right now, because they wouldn’t have the spectre of his impending FA looming over them. Everyone and their mother is acting like this entire playoffs run has been “the Cavs’ last hurrah” and that has to make some of the players feel an inordinant amount of pressure.
I just can’t get to a team that’s gone 127-37 over the past two regular seasons as a “LeBron + 4 Stiffs” team.
TD: By the way, do not forget the old NBA conspiracy theories. Yo dont think the cavs will be getting all the calls Thursday night so there can be a game 7 on Sunday? Lets see, what would you rather watch, a Celtics/Magic game 1 or a Cavs/Celtics game 7 on ABC?
DP: TD, I also said something in my ranting last night that I am also cognizant that LeBron can be a bit of a drama whore, and that there’s a chance that he’s building this up to play the “hero” card in games 6 and 7. Which would be nice on one hand, but would piss me off on another.
Andrew: LeBron put up 38.5/8.3/8.0 against the Magic last year. Sorry, not going to overlook that and blame him. There was no pressure on the team last year due to LeBron’s free agency. They wilted while LeBron did EVERYTHING in his power to try to win that series. I simply cannot forget that.
DP: Nor can I. That’s why I only pointed out that it was a bad matchup for them defensively. But that aspect is on LeBron a little bit.
There’s also the nagging thing I can’t get rid of that LeBron is doing this NOT to leave, but to get Mike Brown gone.
TD: I dont disagree. he loves the drama and the attention. He has really acted Diva-ish of late. Doesn’t mean he wont come out and score 50 on Thursday and lead us to a win, but I just dont see it happening.
He doesnt need this to get Mike Brown fired. if he wanted him gone, all he has to do is say the word and he is gone. Just like Magic did with Paul Westhead and MJ did with Doug Collins.
DP: This reminds me of the 2007 ECF: Detroit’s players, writers, and fans kept saying “Well, the Pistons haven’t played their A-game yet, and they can turn it on when they want to.” Except they were falling apart internally and never could stop the Cavs’ confidence.
Then, this takes me back to my original premise: if LeBron is doing this to justify his own decision to want to leave, then F him. Seriously. I’m not going to lose sleep over it.
TD: Last year, the Orlando series had nothing to do with Lebron and everything to do with matchups. This year, totally different. The chemistry has blown up. The guards aren’t playing well, and the defense has sprung a leak. Like Kenny Smith said last night on TNT, when they focus on Rondo, Allen kills them. When they stop Allen, Pierce killed them. All the while, Jamison is getting torched by KG and Mike Brown doesn’t put Andy on him for more than 10 minutes.
Andrew: I wrote this in my piece, but as much as LeBron shouldn’t have said it, he’s right. We find it so incomprehensible that he had 2 lethargic games in a row that we’re grasping at straws to explain it. We’re spoiled. I assure you he’s not playing poorly to justify leaving.
DP: Rock, I tend to agree that the conspiracy theory that he’s dogging it to justify leaving is ridiculous. But it begs the question: if it’s not that, then why does he look so afraid/tentative/lethargic? It’s the freaking playoffs.
Jacob: Has anyone else besides Chris Mannix of SI asked the question of whether Stoudemire would have helped more either? Roster for next year would certainly look a lot better.
TD: and Amare is a 7 footer. Would have helped with KG. I still dont think Amare would have re-signed here anyways. Think Phoenix is happy they didnt make that deal? JJ cant get off the bench because he cant guard anyone, and the Suns are in the WCF.
photo via John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer