What’s Not to Like About Josh Cribbs and Joe Haden?

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.

  • stin4u

    Well done Craig. I couldn’t agree more.

  • mgbode

    my mind is exploding with so much optimism surrounding cleveland sports.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    “my mind is exploding with so much optimism surrounding cleveland sports.”

    scary, isnt’ it?

  • theherd10

    I have long held that players of any of the three sports franchises in Cleveland would do well to really embrace Cleveland and its culture, to take a look at the rabid, passionate, loyal-to-a-fault fans and see that there is a real opportunity here. You can proclaim your love for Cleveland and back it up, and be deified. Not that I think these guys are necessarily seeking that kind of status, but in an unofficial way, that’s what we do to players who say, “I like it here, and I want to win here.” I know many, many athletes have said in their respective cities throughout the years (#666 for the Miami cHeat comes to mind), but now I actually see Cleveland pro athletes walking the walk. Haden and Cribbs, obviously, but how about the guys who went to Camp Colt at B-W and took in a Tribe game? I get the impression from quotes in the media that other guys want to be here, too, even if they are not necessarily showing up at other events. Colt, Peyton, Boobie, Baron, they all seem to want to win HERE. That’s important for another reason, too, because you know these guys talk to friends that play for other franchises. Who’s to say that when the various FA periods come around that these guys might not fly under the radar, call their FA buddies, and say something like, “Hey, were trying to build something special here, and oh by the way, it’s a great place to be?” I am thrilled to have guys like Joe and Josh here, and even Dan Gilbert for his outspoken commitment to the Cleveland area. I 100% get what mgbode is saying, and I truly, truly hope we are on the cusp of something magical across the Cleveland professional sports spectrum.

  • kevin

    Well said, Craig. I love these teams, and it’s nice for once to feel like they love me back.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    Good post.

    I wonder if things like the incredibly low cost of living and lack of other types of stars in Cleveland help with this – not that these guys would be poor anywhere else, but they can, with their rookie paychecks, buy a really nice house in a nice area outright. For a young guy who doesn’t come from a lot of money, that’s huge, and they still have plenty left over to get what they want, do what they want, and not feel like they have to play 20 years to keep it up. They also know they’ll be deified and treated like royalty wherever they go in Cleveland, and for a long time if not forever. Think that happens in NY except to the Jeters of the world? And even then, there’s always competition and not just from sports stars. In Cleveland they are The Kings.

  • Harv 21

    It’s a nice thought, but easy guys. Behavior over time will reveal whether an athlete is embracing the city or simply wants to be embraced. It’s like we can’t wait someone, anyone, a true jock who “gets us” to wash away the LBJ. But yoour best friend should tell you “whoa, you’re on the rebound, don’t start ring shopping yet.”

    A year ago Cribbs was happily using fans to politic for a new contract and was making a show of clearing out his locker. Hillis is so gosh darn humble. Haden is doing his best Forrest Gump of Cleve sports. Easy guys, you’re rebounding. Time will tell which if any of these guys deserve the special treatment.

  • CBC

    I don’t care if it is mostly for show, Haden is enjoying himself and embracing the fans and their attention. Anybody that shows up with a face paint beard and is willing to sign autographs for an hour during a rain delay is obviously not doing it for entirely selfish reasons.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Not to be a wet blanket here, but I’m totally over the whole “love the guy who claims to love Cleveland” baloney. #6 for Miami cured me of that forever, I think.

    Look, you do your part and go out and play hard and try to win a championship and I will do my part and buy the tickets and the team merchandise to help pay your salary. I’ll even cheer for you when you make a good play. That’s as far as the relationship needs to go. We don’t need to get emotionally attached on a personal level. I’m already emotionally attached to the team. That’s enough.

    If you want to be a nice guy and say all the right things while you are here, great…but don’t expect me to swoon over you because of it. I’ve been burned too many times…been there, and have the t-shirts and jerseys to prove it.

    Sorry if that’s overly cynical, but that’s where I’m at with the “athlete love” thing…

  • The Other Tim

    Given Bernie’s presence, I am relieved and surprised that Denver didn’t get the first pick.

  • Ben

    Can we have the photo of Bernie at the bar in the plane?

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    While it was nice that Cribbs and Haden were at the draft lottery, it was odd that no Cavs players were there.

    But it was a good night all around and it must have been a blast on that plane ride back to Cleveland.

  • Allen

    @9 – disagree about comparing this to LeBron. I never got the idea that LeBron particularly loved Cleveland or felt the need to be in our good graces (Yankee hat at the ALDS anyone?)

  • humboldt

    @Harv – agreed, let’s play the long game here.

  • Tommy

    @9 I think you’re right on.

    It feels like we married the stripper and then were shocked and appalled when she cheated on us and rubbed our faces in it, because she seemed so genuine.

    Then we said, “Ok, Ok, we learned our lesson”

    Flash forward not even a year and it seems like the “lesson” we learned was that we better be EXTRA careful this time when we pick the next stripper to marry.”

  • mgbode

    @Scott – well, it was fun while it lasted. the contrarians are well at work in this thread.

    hey guys, we don’t get to celebrate success and hope all that often here. let’s enjoy it for once, huh?

  • Dave

    As far as guys who like the city of Cleveland who are still liked here even after they left,look at the guy who wore the same number Cribbs and Haden have on there. We still like Z, even though he left, because he clearly likes Cleveland, he was decent to us in general, and didn’t make a big effort to flip us off before he left.

  • http://Twitter.com/GilbertRed Nathan Gilbert

    #6 never loved Cleveland, showing up to a Indians playoff game in A Yankee hat showed that. Has Haden always liked the Cavs and Indians, I doubt it. But he is doing the right things.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    @ 16 – I am totally happy for the Cavs and for the city. I’m stoked about having 2 of the top four picks. I’m just done with the off the field athlete “love.”

    If that makes me a “contrarian”, then so be it. Sorry if I ruined the positive vibe…

  • http://blog.clevelandsportstorture.com/ CleSporTorture Doug

    I’ll put away my cynic’s hat for now and say I enjoy how Haden’s gone out and embraced the city and its teams. Personal gain at the end of that rainbow, maybe, but seeing a Cleveland player come to games in full regalia is pretty cool. I like it, no need to look under rocks for negativity. We have enough of that around here. As of May 18, 2011, I’m loving the Cleveland sports scene. That’s good enough for the moment..

  • stin4u

    I think Haden is probably making the best of his situation. I liken this to what Shaq has always done. No matter where he went he has always been involved in the community and with the fans.

    Would I be mad if Joe left? Not really, unless he made a spectacle of it like we saw last summer. Would I be upset if Joe left and did the same thing elsewhere? Not at all, I think if he was drafted by someone else we’d probably see the same thing. No biggie.

    He’s a nice guy, this probably less about the town and more about just wanting to get involved. That is OK by me.

  • WayneEmbrysKids

    Why didn’t the Cavs take any Cavs to the lottery?

  • Cribbs was paid

    Cribbs is done. MAYBE if you are lucky, he will do something his next contract year

  • Brooks

    I love this. I want to win more than anything, followed in close second with guys that want to be here and are people who aren’t big DB’s (and I’m not referencing a football position).

    @ Sarge- I take back everything I said last year after we drafted Haden. If we could go back to last year and Eric Berry and Haden were on the board I’d take Haden because he seems like he not only is going to be a stud player, but is good for Cleveland. In short…you were right this time.

  • Brooks

    I guess I mean @ Scott.

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    stuff like this makes me proud of my hometown, but I always wonder if this is just the norm everywhere? It seems every fan feels their city has the “best fans”, and is packed with “athletes who love us back”. I’d like to say we’re special, the city is more full of heart, price and loyalty than most sports cities… but I keep thinking I’m looking through rose-colored glasses.

    Even living in Philly, I see a difference tho. Philly fans are passionate, but they get over disappointments faster and I less attachment to the players personally. Philly also, like, WINS once in a while, and even my husband says it makes things easier when you can look back at the last championship 3 years ago and say “yeah, we have that, at least.”