Over the last four or five months, I can’t count how many times I’ve been approached by other non-Cleveland fans who have said, “I feel bad for you” or “I really feel for the city of Cleveland.” My response is always the same: why?
We’re Cleveland sports fans. We all knew what we were getting in to when we signed up for this gig. We’re much more comfortable being the underdog. And, by golly, we have become far too accustomed to coming that close but falling short in the end. None of that is new to even the average Cleveland sports fan. There is no reason for anyone to feel bad for us. There is no reason for anyone to feel for our city.
We have a lot to be thankful for:
1. Over the last few years, Cavaliers fans have been in an unfamiliar territory. The franchise was thrust into the spotlight and was expected to challenge for an NBA championship each and every year. It was a situation that the city wasn’t used to.
We’re back in our comfort zone now. Each and every night, we take the floor as the underdogs. We take the floor with people – those same people that have approached me – watching and saying, “Man, I feel bad for those guys.”
I don’t want sympathy. We have a team full of guys that care about that seem to truly care about the city in which they play. Daniel Gibson, a Texas native, has been very vocal about his love and adoration for Cleveland, Ohio. He, along with guys like Jamario Moon and Mo Williams, have found a place to call home. They are a fun team to watch when they’re on their game.
Basketball is a team sport. It is about making sure that ten guys are on the same page, playing together and working in unison for the good of a franchise. While they may not be one of the top teams in the league right now, they’re still a team. And they’re still our team.
I am thankful for Cleveland Cavaliers team basketball.
2. If you are any sort of Cleveland Cavaliers fan, you have had December 2nd circled on your calendar for a long, long time. The day marks the first time that LeBron James will return to the Quicken Loans Arena since his decision.
I, for one, have had mixed emotions for a long time. I would love to see the Q louder than it has ever been. I’d love to hear all the boo-birds out, letting James know how we feel about him as a basketball player and a person. I want to see that as much as the next guy.
But I have feared, from the beginning, the actions of that one ignorant fan who decides to take it to an entirely different level. I don’t want to see anybody get hurt. And I’m sure you don’t either. I’ve just been concerned that the actions of one stupid fan are going to tarnish the reputation of our entire city.
Fortunately, though, the league and the franchise have taken the proper precautions. They announced today that arena security will be kicked up a notch, and that all anti-LeBron apparel will be banned from the arena. The franchise does not want to disrespect the James family and wants to keep its reputation as a family-friendly basketball team. I can respect that.
I am thankful for decision-making involved in the planning of LeBron’s return.
3. After everything that happened this offseason, it is hard not to appreciate a guy like Dan Gilbert. His letter to Cleveland fans following the departure of LeBron James this offseason was enough to earn my admiration.
It takes a special kind of man to speak up for an entire city of passionate fans, all the while putting his league reputation on the line. Prior to this offseason, Dan Gilbert was just another NBA owner. He was seemingly absent from any major decision-making within the franchise.
But, after his actions this offseason, Dan Gilbert has becoming much more than that. He has joined Mark Cuban as one of the most passionate owners in all of sports. He continues to put his neck on the line for the city of Cleveland and the Cavaliers franchise. How can you not want to play for a guy like Mr. Gilbert?
I am thankful for Dan Gilbert.
You see, life as a Cleveland sports fan isn’t paradise but it isn’t meant to be. It takes a special kind of person to live our life in the sports world. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What are you thankful for this season?