It has been well over a month since I have written anything. The sabbatical has been in part due to personal malaise, the bizarre over-reported, and simultaneously under-appreciated season of Florida State football and my forced retirement from coaching, see also personal malaise (again). Without that out of the way, I am back with a few musings.
THE 5-7 CAVS
I believe Lebron is the best player in the game and has been for many years, but his debut as general manager has been Jordan-esque. Lebron committed to his much-ballyhooed return to Cleveland after David Blatt was signed to coach the team, and their is little evidence through the first twelve games that he is willing to actually be coached by Blatt. To the contrary, there is huddle-gate and the conspicuous absence of reference to Blatt in any of his public comments.
When Lebron returned to the Cavs, the team featured three number one overall picks in Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, and the eccentric Dion Waiters. A young, athletic core of players that Lebron could mentor as his own athleticism diminished with age. Lebron proceeded to strong-armed the Cavs into trading Bennett and Wiggins for Kevin Love, a marvelous offensive player whose athleticism diminished with birth, and filled out the roster with geriatric veterans and non-entities that threaten to make last season’s Heat bench look like the second unit of the 86′ Celtics.
The Cavs have produced a handful of scintillating offensive performances, but have looked increasingly lost as an actual team, with no one looking more lost than Kevin Love, who has struggled to find shots or to exert a consistent impact in games playing with ball-dominant Lebron and Irving. This is a crucial development because Love can walk after this season, and if he does, I would anticipate a Dwight leaving the Lakers chilling effect with other potential free agents considering Cleveland. Keeping Wiggins would have mitigated immediate expectations and given the Cavs a talented, athletic player under favorable contract terms for the balance of Lebron’s prime which could facilitate the addition of another impact player. Wiggins development as a multiposition defender would give Cleveland a chance to build a championship level defense and ease the burden on Lebron in particular.
Cleveland has enough to improve, but it will not win a championship with this roster and Lebron unaccountable to anyone in the organization.
THE PATRIOT WAY
The trials and tribulations of the Cavs can find some perspective in the Patriots, who were left for dead after an embarrassing loss to the Chiefs several weeks ago that saw Tom Brady benched at the end of the game after struggling immensely behind an incompetent offensive line. The obituary cited the aging Brady and an avalanche of poor personnel moves as the cause of death, but the Patriots have been undefeated since that game and now figure to be the AFC’s top seed entering the playoffs. Brady, in particular, has been sensational during the run.
The Patriots provide encouragement and a hard truth for the Cavs, however. Regular season excellence has been the norm in New England for most of Brady’s tenure, but with an unbalanced, bargain-basement roster the team has repeatedly fallen short in the playoffs, and often in decisive fashion.
FLORIDA STATE AND THE MEANING OF SPORT
The Seminoles have now won 27 straight games. By any standard this is a substantial accomplishment, but it has caught nothing but crap and it’s a shame.
I spent my childhood rooting for the Lakers against the Celtics. I hated everything about the Celtics, and if 43 years of life have taught me anything, I was an idiot to do so. The 80’s Celtics were an incredible team, and Larry Bird unquestionably one of the best and most unique players in the history of the game, and my festering hatred of the Celtics meant that I did not enjoy any of his career. I have now listened to interviews and read stories somehow gaining a retro-appreciation for the Celtics, but it is not the same.
Sports give us incredible moments and stories every season, and nothing should make us fail to appreciate them as they unfold. I do not claim the Seminoles are the greatest team of all time or even necessarily a historical treasure, but there is something to a team that so thoroughly dominated college football in every phase last season to what we have beheld this season. Put in context that the biggest concern heading into last year’s title game was the fact Florida State had not played a close game. Auburn put the Noles in their first hole, and the dug out and won an epically entertaining title tilt.
This season they have remained undefeated, but done so by digging out of holes on a weekly basis. There are uneven and incomptent stretches of football in each game and unending drama on the field and off, but at the end, there is a win.
There are life lessons and revelations in sport that resonate in life after the final whistle sounds, but while you are in uniform there is only one meaningful question, did you win?