If you can’t beat them, join them. One of the oldest phrases in the proverbial book, but it is apparently still very relevant to Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They know for a fact that the Browns will always be top of the heap in Cleveland. Instead of bristling at the thought and pretending as if they can overtake them, Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers have somehow found a way to co-opt them. He did this last night by having Joe Haden, Josh Cribbs and Bernie Kosar with him at the NBA Draft Lottery as his guests.
I know this kind of thing is a two-way street. Josh Cribbs and Joe Haden get courtside seats at the most material level for their part in this deal. Additionally it is great public relations for them personally to go along with the Cavs’ marketing schemes involving them. At the same time – and maybe it says something sad about our sports culture – the fact that both Cribbs and Haden even care to expend the effort to be in the good graces of the fans who pay to watch them on Sundays is refreshing. There are no championships to show for this era of Cleveland sports, but make no mistake, there is something special going on.
Last night the guys ended up playing second fiddle to Nick Gilbert. Nick took the world by storm with his instant catch-phrase, “What’s not to like?” The Nick storyline was so prominent last night during the broadcast that Kosar, Cribbs and Haden were almost afterthoughts. Still, as we read the tweets and saw their faces, you didn’t get a sense that they even cared. They wanted to be there.
And if you think Josh Cribbs believes in curses, you are dead wrong. Before the event, he wasn’t worried about jinxes. He laid it out clearly on Twitter. “We out here at the NBA lottery joining forces with the Cavs 2 bring home pick #1 & #2 !!!” After the Cavs landed the pick, Joe Haden was quick with the “All for #1 and one #4 all! #gocavs” tweet.
It is instructive. The athletes that play here are too young or don’t care about the supposed curses, jinxes or whatever else. As fans, we feel like these things sometimes override everything. To these players, they feel or know that they can control their own destinies regardless of the disappointments of the past. The closer we get to these guys and their attitudes, the further we will get from the voodoo culture that has dominated since the “The” era.
There is a lot to enjoy this morning. The Cavs did about as well as they possibly could have done at the draft last night. Even as the NFL is facing a lockout, two Browns players have found ways to go above and beyond the call of duty to make names for themselves in Cleveland. We were lucky to get the picks we got last night, but even if they hadn’t come through, we should have felt lucky to have guys like Joe Haden, Josh Cribbs and Dan Gilbert in the Cleveland sports community.