The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Cavaliers’

Welcome to My Basketball Life

November 6, 2015 | by

Say hello to our new basketball columnist: Rowan Ricardo Phillips.

Nets v. Bulls.

Last Wednesday evening, after most of the autumn day had been washed away by rain, I found myself crossing Atlantic Avenue, in Brooklyn. A friend and I were heading to Barclays Center to see the Brooklyn Nets open their season against the Chicago Bulls, one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. In this day and age, being one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference doesn’t mean much; the powerhouse teams, with all due respect to LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers, are in the West. But a game between two Eastern Conference teams offers the opportunity to see competition in its purest form: that is, within a realm of easily exposed flaws and weaknesses. Seeing a team miss shot after shot isn’t my idea of a fun time, but watching teams divine their strengths from a forest of inadequacies—I prefer that to endless hours of free and easy swishing. And if that sounds crazy to you, think of how many people sing the praises of college basketball.

My friend, who went to college in Chicago, is a Bulls fan. You wouldn’t know it today from his cool demeanor, but once upon a time he was of those nineties-era Bulls fans, the ones who tormented New Yorkers by wearing his Bulls cap everywhere he went, saying little because little needed to be said. The Bulls almost always won, and almost always at the expense of the New York Knicks. But today it’s a struggle to imagine my friend in a cap at all, much less being invested enough in basketball to risk his well-being for a sartorial statement. In fact, I can only recall him mentioning basketball once in the past few years: when a Miami native insisted on referring to his beloved Superteam, with an evil tilt to his Jack Nicholson-esque eyebrows, as the Heatles. Then the look of the scrapper scoured my friend’s face and the side of his forehead trellised with veins before he laughed it off: “Yeah, the Heat are pretty good. We’ll see.” He’s from the Midwest. Read More »

Letter from Cleveland

July 8, 2010 | by

Who am I to deny LeBron James a chance to move away?

Photograph by Keith Allison.

LeBron James is thinking. And Cleveland is worrying. At twenty-five, the two-time NBA MVP is the most admired, elaborately talented, and imaginative basketball player of this era. He is also, by an unfunny and indisputable margin, the most important Clevelander in memory, if not history. Harvey Pekar, Bob Hope, Paul Newman, and Drew Carey can fight it out for second place. Born in nearby Akron, he was preternaturally composed, having achieved crippling levels of notoriety before turning sixteen, generating the most unrealistic expectations in decades, and calmly proceeding to exceed them all. Ever since he signed a contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers four years ago, his fellow Clevelanders have dreaded July 1, 2010. This was the date that, seven years into a triumphant—though still championship-less—career, LeBron became the most coveted free agent in modern team sports.

After a year or two of local consternation, a couple of months of over-thinking, and a full week of orgiastic, self-negating theorizing and maneuvering, the care-worn, hostage-taken people of Northeast Ohio know that LeBron plans to make his decision and announcement during an hour-long, live special on ESPN at nine o'clock this Thursday evening. We know because ESPN, whose band of specialist scrutinizers and hypothesizers have, at various points, overwhelmed Twitter's tube capacity in the last week, "broke" this story about their own network's broadcast, abetting LeBron’s unfortunate, hubristic tendencies. His fate will require a dedicated hour of live television.

And since the final game of the shamefully frictionless eastern conference semifinals, when the Boston Celtics overwhelmed the Cavaliers, ESPN has helped ratify what all Clevelanders understand to be a fact: we lose. Most often, dramatically. There is a dazzling catalog of defeat engrained in the cringing lizard brain of every Northeast Ohio sports fan, and ESPN had the soul-puncturing, spirit-killing montage of upper-case humiliations1 cued up. Each anti-triumph represents a picturesque, late-game failure by a once-promising Cleveland pro team. We Clevelanders know them all by sickened heart. Read More »


  1. Quickly: The Catch (baseball: by Willie Mays against the Indians in the 1954 World Series); The Drive (football: referring to a late game drive by Denver's John Elway); The Fumble (committed by Ernest Byner of the Browns); The Shot (basketball, courtesy of Michael Jordan); The Date (1964, the last year a Cleveland team won a major championship of any kind, and the year of the Civil Rights Act). There is also a gnawing late-inning collapse in a Game 7 loss to the Florida Marlins in the 1997 World Series that does yet have a fun proper name.