You have to understand Clevelanders to know how much the loss LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers suffered in their season opener Thursday hurt. Think about it: They lost to the sorry New York Knicks.
Who thought that possible?
A loss like that one also left Clevelanders nervous. They have been dissecting LeBron’s play as if they were conducting an autopsy. His turnovers and his shaky all-round play had concern stretching from the shores of Lake Erie to points far south of the city.
But why they would fret about an Oct. 30 loss puzzles me. Their uneven play Friday in beating the Chicago Bulls speaks to what LeBron had said about the team as the 2014-15 season was about to unfold.
LeBron liked the talent on coach David Blatt’s roster, but what he said he hadn’t seen yet was a team with the kind of cohesion it would need to win an NBA title. The Cavaliers aren’t the San Antonio Spurs – yet.
And these Cavaliers are, even if they didn’t look like it Thursday in losing to the Knicks and also for stretches of their game Friday night against the Bulls.
What fans saw in both games were the growing pains that LeBron understood from his early days with the Miami Heat. He had Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade as his sidekicks, but the trio of NBA royalty wasn’t ready from Day 1 to turn their talent into a championship.
They didn’t win one that first season, as NBA fans everywhere can tell you. A championship did come to Miami in the trio’s second season, and it gave LeBron something that he had longed for, the one thing that had been missing on his NBA resume: a title.
Whether he has around him talent that will morph into a team is an unknown. In the freshness of an 82-game season, nobody should care much after two games, and nobody does – except the angst-filled fans who call Cleveland home and root for the remade Cavaliers.
The best advice for their fans is this: Chill awhile.
Worrying won’t speed the team’s transition from a collection of talent (LeBron, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving) to a championship team. They’ll prove the latter over time.
And once they do, once they blend into what their talent suggests the team can be, Cavaliers fans will be able to forget that their team lost its first game of the new LeBron James era.
Until then, they’ll just worry, because that’s simply what people in Cleveland do: worry. They’ll worry LeBron’s homecoming will bring them no more enjoyment than his exodus did.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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