This day three years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers traveled to Los Angeles on Christmas and took down the defending champs, the LA Lakers, 102-87.
The player formerly known as No. 23 averaged 29.7 points and shot over 50 percent from the field. Shaquille O’Neal, Mo Williams, Anthony Parker and J.J. Hickson accompanied him during this time in his career. That starting five feels like a lifetime ago when you look at the starters Byron Scott puts on the court now.
This game was a big deal. It very well could have been a preview of the NBA Finals, but we all know how that one ended. It was a faceoff between the two best players in the league, Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James. Kobe was close to a triple-double, finishing with 35 points, eight assists and 10 rebounds. No. 23 had a typical performance, scoring 26 points and dishing out six assists. Leading the Cavs in points was the “hit man” Mo Williams. The game didn’t end without some excitement, when Lamar Odom was ejected from the game after receiving two technical fouls. The Cavs came into the Staples Center and beat the Lakers in every facet of the game. By the time the game ended, half of the crowd had left, and the fans that remained in the stands were booing heavily because of the Lakers poor performance.
The Cavs were a different team. We always played in the national spotlight and everyone knew our players. Now we have some guy named Alonzo Gee in our starting lineup, and most people don’t even know who he is. It is a different time now and our team wouldn’t even be mentioned in consideration to play a game on Christmas Day. But that was a different time and the Cavs couldn’t be further from that now.