For a good majority of the 2014-2015 season, Cleveland Cavaliers fans and media-types around the league have asked the same question we have heard for so many years—“What about next year?” The “next year” in question has for the most part been in regard to what Kevin Love will do at the end of the season, or if he and LeBron James are “best friends.”
Really people? Of all years and after all the years of losing, you want to focus on “next year” now?
It is time for all the Cleveland Cavaliers fans out there to forget about next year for the next few months. Stop worrying about whether or not Love is going to opt out following this season, and start focusing on a team that is currently dominating the Memphis Grizzlies as I write this, and will soon be sitting at 47-26 with nine games left in the regular season.
After being left at the altar by James on that fateful night back in 2010, the Cavaliers are back near the top of the NBA—which is exactly where your focus should be this time of year. Playoff basketball will soon be back at Quicken Loans Arena, where the hometown team has every bit of a legitimate shot of bringing home a championship trophy in a few short months.
Take that in for a second—a Cleveland team is one of the favorites to win a championship. Sitting at the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference on a stretch in which they have won 8-of-10 heading into their contest with Memphis, the Cavaliers are clicking at the right time of the season—and heading into the playoffs with a head of steam. Yet for some reason, all everyone wants to focus on is where Love will be next year.
As a loyal Cleveland fan and resident Clevelander, I get it—I really do. Disappointment after disappointment has made up your entire life as a Cleveland fan. The moments do not need to be re-hashed here, ESPN does that enough for all of us. But there is just something different about the composure of this team.
Where other regimes would have been inactive, the Cavaliers front office went out and gambled on J.R. Smith and an injured Iman Shumpert. They flipped two first-round picks for a big man who can run the floor and protect the rim in Timofey Mozgov. They actually improved a team nobody thought they could improve on, with Kyrie Irving, James and Love on the roster.
The way that players like Smith, Shumpert and Mozgov have fit in on this roster tells you all you need to know about the real culture behind closed doors. Smith is playing like the guy everyone wished he would year in and year out throughout his career, and Shumpert and Mozgov have exceeded everyone’s expectations. So forgive me if the reports of Love’s unhappiness do not carry much weight right about now.
No, the only thing that matters this time of year is winning—and the Cavaliers are doing plenty of it with no signs of slowing down any time soon.
So for the next couple of months, let’s try and remove the following from our vocabulary: Andrew Wiggins and Love leaving. Instead, replace them with “playoffs” and “championship.” Because if you can do that, not only will you be a happier person—but it will allow you to realize there is something special going on for the wine and gold right now, and I really don’t want you to miss it.