December 2nd looms over the Cavaliers to this day. In some ways, that was the day that this season died.
There was certain optimism about the team before that, fueled and perpetuated by the team’s opening day victory against the dreaded Boston Celtics. After that fateful night, though, everything went to hell. Reality sank in; the team went on a double-digit losing streak, all hope was lost. What could have been one of the greatest days any Clevelander could see instead brought only bitter disappointment. Forlorn and weary, we cast our hopes ahead to the long-awaited Draft Day.
Compared to the insanity surrounding the game in December, January 21st passed by with little more than a ‘blip’ on the sporting world’s radar. Gone was the media frenzy, and the fervor of The Q was replaced with the relative quiet of Miami’s American Airlines Arena. The Cavaliers were no longer the determined underdogs and Miami was no longer a group of underperforming fools. Things had gone very differently for these two teams since that day in December.
The Cavs had plummeted to the bottom of the league, there were rumblings of discontent, and the team looked defeated before the ball even tipped off. The Heat, on the other hand, looked like the world-destroyers that many predicted them to be. Some of the fans among us thought that this game smelled of an upset, and a wild chance at redemption. Needless to say, that did not happen.
The trade deadline brought some kind of sense of a new beginning – the allure of another draft pick and the arrival of the flawed but endlessly watchable Baron Davis certainly reinvigorated my fandom. Things by no means have completely turned around, but they do look better. We’ve won a few games, and have at least avoided any miserably long losing streaks. It’s easy, then, with the excitement of the NCAA tournament and the promise of the imminent draft, to dismiss this game and to abandon this season for good. It’s convenient, almost, to dismiss the game tonight. We can say we’re over it, that we’ll get them next year, that it doesn’t matter.
The truth, though, is that it does matter. We need this.
The game tonight could provide the perfect bookend to the season. A late-coming redemption – a reminder that things can and will get better. The game, of course, depends on the players – but we fans have our own part to do here. Cleveland’s mortal enemy is coming back to town, and he kicked our asses last time, and we don’t care. We’re downtrodden, demoralized, and hurt. We are a lot like the team we so hopelessly root for. We seem to have lost our competitive spirit, and that won’t do. We need to get pissed. Some good old-fashioned anger is good for the sporting soul.
Complacently allowing LeBron and company to meander into the Q and play to anything less than the maelstrom of negativity we gave him the first time simply will not do. This isn’t about hating LeBron – it’s about loving Cleveland. LeBron’s coming home, my friends, and we owe it to not only ourselves and our team but also the legacy of Cleveland to give him a welcome fit for a King.
After all, this is Cleveland. If we do one thing well, it’s yell and make a big fuss about things we hate. Maybe if we boo loud enough, we can end this season on a really positive note. And if not? What if we get steam-rolled?
Well, I don’t know. Tea is good for the throat.. and there’s always next year.
This article originally appeared on LandLoyalty.com