Maybe it's my advanced age and maybe it's that my Give a Damn is busted, but I have to admit I'm a bit staggered by the Chicken Little act going on before me as it pertains to the Cavaliers-Magic series that is tied 1-1 as I'm sitting down to write this.
All I keep hearing about is history. About ‘The Drive' and ‘The Fumble' and ‘The Shot' and ‘The Renteria'. About all of that ancient history and the teams that couldn't get past those big moments and came up short.
Throw in the apparently apocalyptic fact the Cavs and the city of Cleveland find themselves front and center on the cover of Sports Illustrated and I swear to God a good portion of otherwise rational and even-keeled sports fans have done lost their damn minds.
This is a basketball team with no connection to the past. This is a basketball team that has done nothing but create memories of their own as opposed to crumble under the weight of nightmares dreamt long before they arrived.
Those days are gone. You can live in fear of failure or you can enjoy this Cavaliers ride for what it has been; a magical season that promises to get even better.
Seriously, which of the current cast of Cavaliers strikes you as living under the pressure of past failures? For that matter, which of the current Cavaliers was even alive or able to remember that John Elway beat the Browns 23 years ago or that Earnest Byner dropped a football in Mile High Stadium a year after that?
I do not see Zydrunas Ilgauskas pulling up a rocking chair and gathering around eager faces belonging to Delonte West, Mo Williams, Sasha Pavlovic or Darnell Jackson to tell them the cautionary tale of expectations crashing and burning when Edgar Renteria singled over the outstretched glove of Charles Nagy to deprive Cleveland of a World Series title in 1997. I cannot envision Ben Wallace turning down the lights in his living room and telling Jordan over Ehlo stories to Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao.
These guys simply don't care about any of that and none of it has any effect on whether Wallace and Varejao can help keep Dwight Howard under wraps and whether Delonte and Sasha can close out on the Magic three point shooters to contest shots.
It doesn't matter to them. And if the Cavs don't get it done it will be because they didn't get it done. Not because someone else didn't get it done nearly 30 years ago.
This series, and hopefully the one after it, are not about past failures. This series is about the top two teams in the Eastern Conference going after each other for a maximum of seven games. This series is about a focused King James looking forward with tunnel vision to winning whatever game is on the schedule that night. It's about executing on offense, moving the ball crisply and efficiently and rotating on defense.
In the course of winning 66 basketball games during the regular season and eight straight playoff games by double-digit margins when have we heard any of these players talk about drawing inspiration from past failures of Cleveland sports teams to achieve in the here and now?
This is not the time to let past moments from Cleveland sports history color your more recent memories. This is not the time to sit timidly in your living room watching the games while you wait for the sound of that other shoe dropping. This is the time to celebrate in a special basketball team that is no more affected by past failures than they are inspired by the '48 Indians or Dick Snyder's runner in the lane to beat the Bullets in the Miracle of Richfield year. It's all ancient history and meaningless when the ball goes in the air in this series.
We Clevelanders are an odd lot. We'll whine and cry to each other about the disappointment that the Indians have provided thus far in the 2009 season. We'll light up talk radio and message boards with our angst over a 4-12 Browns season. We're dying for that team that breaks the mold and brings a title to this town.
Then we sit in fear of what may happen next when that team takes the league by storm and threatens to make it happen.
Your ship has come in.
That ship is the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Your wait is over. Climb aboard. We're expecting you.
Misery and self-loathing are not admirable qualities to carry around and display for the entire world to see. Open your eyes, open your hearts and channel your fears. And above all else, try to enjoy the damn moment.