A number of things have come to light recently to prove my previous perceptions of the Cavaliers over the last five years - both individually as players, as well as collectively as an organization - to be quite false.
As I watched the Cavs diligently work towards extending they’re losing streak from 9 to 10 games last night against Indiana, another of these incorrect perceptions hit me squarely in the face. It might not be a new revelation to some, but it was new to me.
For the last five years, I had completely bought-in to the idea that the Cavaliers were a “winning organization” with a “winning culture”, regardless of who was on the roster. I basically had accepted it as fact. I also thought, that despite the challenges this season would undoubtedly involve, the Cavaliers would still compete, and still demonstrate characteristics of an organization with that type of culture - even if they didn’t win at the clip they had over the last five seasons.
What is evident to me now, is there never really was a “winning culture” within the make-up of this organization. That “culture” – which was often associated with the efforts of Dan Gilbert, to Danny Ferry, to Mike Brown on down to the players - was really just created as a bi-product of LeBron James’ natural ability.
There was no identity to this team or organization other than LeBron James. The organization was his, the culture was defined by him, and the regular season winning was simply a result of sheer natural talent and ability that belonged to him.
When LeBron left, he took more than his on-court production with him. He took the identity and culture of an entire franchise, that is yet to define one for itself.
By default, that culture is now simply losing. It’s practiced, accepted, and will not change until the Cavaliers organization is able to figure out who they are, who they want to be, and find players interested in being involved in that.
I had thought they did, thought they knew, and thought they had some. All of which, I was wrong about.
On last night’s game:
Now the bright side for me in last night’s 108-99 loss to Indiana is that some of these guys the Cavs desperately need to rid themselves of are starting to put up individual numbers that might help entice a willing trade partner.
Mo Williams went for 22 on 8 of 12 shooting along with 11 assists – nice game statistically – and Antawn Jamison scored 17 along with grabbing 7 boards. Anthony Park exactly doubled his 8.5 ppg scoring average by going for 17 himself, and also grabbed 6 rebounds.
After scoring a combined 18 points over the last four games, JJ Hickson entered the double figure scoring mark by getting himself 11 of his own this time out, and after going for 26 last time out, Daniel Gibson scored 4.
Anderson Varejao did play hard, like he always does. He scored 15, grabbed a half dozen boards, couple of blocks, couple assists, used five of the six fouls he had, but he can’t win any game in this league by himself.
Nobody else did anything.
If this whole team played as hard as Varejao does though, they probably could’ve finished the season above .500. But they don’t, not even close, and now they welcome the Knicks tonight as they hope to avoid number 11.