No one can deny that this has been a painful stretch for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have been losing with regularity. They have lacked determination and resolve to fight through adversity. Many are speculating that this is, at least partially, because of the failings of their coach and lack of respect for the coach by the players. Some believe it is a master plot by LeBron to undermine his coach and force a change. Others think the front office is to blame for making an ill-fated trade for a star power forward who is a liability on defense. Writers claim inside information that the coaching staff is at odds and Lu is undermining Blatt openly. The list of “reasons” for the lackluster start and double digit losses goes on and on.
It would be presumptuous in my view to believe that anyone, including myself, would be able to sort all of this out and separate fact from fiction. It seems certain that the media who follows the team with the detail of a CSI unit can’t see the forest through the trees. All I keep reading about is a bunch of small trees that are supposed to add up to some sinister story explaining the demise of the Cavs. So far I have learned nothing more than soap box scenarios featuring undermining, power struggles, immaturity, and social media video creations of controversy. There are likely elements of truth in all of these fun and creative stories. It is equally likely that they don’t amount to a hill of beans in the big picture.
Let’s spend a brief moment putting all of this gibberish in context. It would seem almost self-evident that the coaches might have some differing views about why the Cavs are losing with such regularity. When you have a ton of talent and the talent is losing, there must be some things that are being done from coaching that are ineffective.
So for those who attest after a 19-20 start that coach Blatt is not exactly setting the world on fire with his rotations and schemes, I would respond to them with “Duh”! And if you told me that some of the coaches and players might be questioning whether Blatt is pushing the right buttons, I would respond with an equal “Duh”. That does not mean that Blatt is a bad coach or that there is undermining or scheming to replace him. It means they are losing!
The coach is always going to be questioned when the results are poor. But to give an experienced championship coach, who is new to the NBA, only a half a season to get it figured out is ludicrous beyond belief. Especially considering the injuries and that this is an entirely new team in Cleveland. Except for a few clusters of players that have played together on other teams, this is a group of players with no continuity or chemistry. So for those who bemoan a lack of consistency in player rotations, look at the players available for each game this season and give me your thoughts on how you would have remained consistent.
My point is that when a team is losing everything looks awful and coaches and players alike can and should be questioned about their effectiveness. So all of that is understandable. However, the old saying of “You are never as bad as you look when you are losing and never as good as you look when you are winning” probably applies here. The Cavs are not nearly as bad a team as they look now. And this will turn around at some point. We all hope it is soon.
This brings me to one of the aspects of this dark stretch by the Cavs that is the most disturbing to me. I am not worried about the “investigative” reporting that is generating the soap box. Those things will all work out if the team starts winning again. I AM worried about the resolve of the fans, team management, coaches and players to see this through.
In a brighter day (less than 3 months ago), the Cavs were to set out on a journey that most believed would be a continuous season of coronation. Wins would fall from the sky like raindrops in the spring. The fans would cheer. LeBron would smile. Love would stay. Cleveland would be the center of the sports universe during the NBA season. Nike captured our spirit and our heart in a commercial that, if you were even remotely a Cleveland sports fan, brought tears to your eyes.
Now, half way through this “magical” season, the spirit demonstrated in that commercial has as much credibility as a mirage in the desert. What did we really expect here?? This is Cleveland !!! Not LA. Not NYC. Not Chicago. Thinking it would be easy seems rather foolish now. I guess we really didn’t believe that in Ohio everything is earned, nothing is given. And, in Cleveland professional sports, that is especially true.
So what we have that disturbs me the most is a team and fans that actually do reflect each other, but not in the positive way we all believed 3 months ago. When things have gotten tough, the team and fans have hung their heads and looked at the guy next to them. In the players case it might be the coach or the teammate that isn’t completing his assignment properly. In the fans case it is the coach or a player that they think is “causing the problem”. The response seems to be from both fans and team that “this isn’t working so change it to make it easier”.
Now some changes had to be made. We needed another big who could defend the rim. We needed another wing defender. We needed to replace Dion’s firepower if we used him to get a rim protector. All those things have been accomplished now (even though all the players are not ready to play yet).
More change is not an answer to this problem. No matter how much you hate Blatt or how much you despise Love’s defense replacing them will not fix the main problem that faces the Cavs. The Cavs need to dig in and follow the damn commercial. 1-2-3 HARD WORK. 4-5-6 TOGETHER. They can’t expect an easy answer and they damn sure can’t point the finger at their coaches or teammates. They need to look in the mirror and take on the challenge to be great. The fans need to quit crying all over social media about who they want fired or traded. Change in a business is death to that business. When someone needs to be fired, fine. But continuity and consistency is a better formula to success.
And the fans need to finally realize that if they are always trying to find scapegoats and “reasons” why this team is not winning , they are reflecting the same losing attitude that the team has been expressing the past 2-3 weeks. The fans aren’t willing to stay tough, keep their heads high and support the team during adversity. That is what we want the players to do but we can’t do it ourselves. Maybe the fans can show them the way to fight together through adversity without looking for an easy fix by dumping players or coaches.
The real problem with the Cleveland Cavaliers is inconsistent effort and lack of trust in their coaches and teammates. Instead of pointing fingers they need to be joining hands and doing whatever they can do individually to make it work. Fight through adversity. Fight for each other. Fight to win. Some opponents need to find themselves lying on the court after drives and grabbing their heads and faces after inadvertent active hands strike or scrape.
If each player and coach took responsibility for their own actions and saw that the vision of winning is found in the mirror, there would be no need for scapegoats. The Cavaliers are supremely talented but supremely soft. That simply needs to change.