Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Other Shoe awaits

Why can't I shake this feeling? I never thought the Cavs were going to win it all. Check that, I didn't think so until about 2 months ago. About 2 months ago, amidst the chaos of March Madness and the dog days of what seems to be a year round NBA season, I started to believe. I think it was a combination of the Cavs hitting their stride at the same moment that the other three contenders—Boston, Orlando, and Los Angeles—starting hitting road bumps. At one point, Lebron passed Kobe, Garnett's injury pushed the Celtics into second-tier status, and Orlando, struggling to beat bottom-run teams, faded into championship irrelevancy. Once we secured home court, it seemed destiny. For the first time in 14 years, we were actually favored to win…and this time, thanks to the NBA's meritocracy where the best record is worth something, we actually had the home-court in the finals. Best player in the land, home court, contenders dropping like the Tribe in 2005 and the Browns in 2007, I actually started to believe.

However, I must admit, I thought there was a chance we'd lose to Detroit. Honestly. I didn't think of it as extremely legitimate, but they're the fucking Pistons. You don't walk over them. After that series, I was hooked. This was it. I actually, for the first time since an unseasonably warm autumn night in October of 1997 thought to myself, "Now you will know what it's like to be a Yankee, or a Niner, or a Bull. This is what it's like. Get Ready."

I'll tell you when it ran out. Game 1, forty seconds left. Delonte had just knocked down a huge three to take a one point lead and then Rashard Lewis, effortlessly caught a ball on the right baseline, put up an eleven footer and buried it to take a one-point lead. At that moment, despite Lebron's ensuing three-point play, I started to doubt. And now, as we stare up a small hill, a hill that we are almost expected to climb, I see an impossible mountain.

I don't know why. A win tonight, and we have a pretty distinct advantage. A best of 3 with 2 games at home is a lot stronger than a best of 7 with 4 games at home. But that win tonight seems implausible, and NOT for the easy reasons. I don't care about D-white, Rashard, Hedo, and Pietrus. I Don't care about Mo, Delmonte, and Z's problems. I mean, I do. Believe me I do. But this is beyond that. This is mythical. This is the product, not of Xs, Os, or statistics, this is the product of Dr. Pavlov, teasing me, baiting me, and universally letting me down. I am conditioned to expect the tease, and when the mouth-watering temptation to believe tries to overcome my pre-ordained cynicism, that cynicism rises, triumphs, and destroys grace in a higher power. The only higher power I know, is that giant shoe, worn by athletes from Elway to Alomar, the same shoe worn by Tommy Maddox, Josh Beckett, and an injured, hobbled Pedro Martinez. As I look up into the unknown today, I do not expect a Cavs win, I do not expect Mo's shot to turn on, or Z to turn effective. What I expect is the worst.

I expect a new story to tell my kids. Lebron's shot—despite what many other cynical Clevelander's are saying—will not be a footnote, but the central theme in the melodrama of another Cleveland tragedy. His shot will represent the worst or our abilities: Our ability to believe. Perhaps it is this trait that is our worst. Perhaps it is not our expectations to fail, our athletically-trained inferiority complex that defines us, but our insistence in believing in a cruel and self-serving deity who, at least from this perspective, seems to be more interested in our failures that anyone's triumphs. If this were not the case, than that shot would not have gone in. If Orlando truly is simply "the better team," than Lebron's shot would have hit that back iron and bounced mercifully off the rim, relieving us of that cruel hope that—despite my heart-felt attempts at abandoning—lives in my body, still today, causing more frustration than faith, and more anticipation for the worst than belief in the best.

More than anything today, I want to blow them out. I want it to be over after the first quarter. But there is a part of me, a slice of brain matter that I'm sure neurologists have discovered contains our ability to reason, to organize, and to plan, that wants D-white to hang 50 on us. Put us out of our misery. Take the hope, the belief, the prayers, and make them go away. It is May. The Indians are relaxed in the cellar, the Browns are….the Browns, and the Cavs are on the brink of collapsing before our very eyes.

I don't want that to happen, but I know better. I think we're the better team, but I don't see us winning. We have the best player ever on our team, and even he can't overcome some things. I know it's been sad before, but there are some things that will just never change. Unless they do tonight. Go Cavs….OH NO, NOT AGAIN.

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