Eternal victory and Andy's ring: While We're Waiting

Reflecting further on the Cleveland Cavaliers' NBA Championship, and taking a look at the question of whether or not Anderson Varejao should get a Championship ring of his own.

Happy Tuesday, fellow Champions!

We did it! Well, ok, fine…..be that way. No, “we” didn’t do it. They did it! The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, overcoming impossible odds against the greatest regular season team in the history of the game. Can I just re-post a quick couple of paragraphs from my WWW last week? It seems relevant today:

Why not us? We know that nobody has ever come back from a 1-3 series deficit in NBA Finals history. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, the mindset today has to be “Why not us?”. Somebody will eventually become the first team to do it. It will happen. Sometime. But will it be this year? 

There’s a certain romanticism to that thought. As Cleveland fans, how could we not be jealous of the Boston Red Sox’ unthinkable comeback from an 0-3 deficit, trailing in the 9th inning of Game 4? The comeback to beat the Yankees and then win the World Series and finally break the “Curse of the Bambino” is an all-time legendary story. It’s something Red Sox fans will be talking about with their friends, their children, and their grandchildren until the day they die. 

The Golden State Warriors became just the 10th team in NBA history to overcome a 1-3 deficit when they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder. But no team has ever done it in the NBA Finals. If the Cavaliers can pull off the impossible, we would have our own story to talk about until our very dying breath. I want that.

Wish, granted. Mission, accomplished. Peace of mind, eternal.

Well, subjectively eternal, anyway. If Cleveland goes another 52 years without a Championship, this will all eventually repeat itself. And for people born in 2032, when it’s 2068 and Cleveland is still waiting for another Championship, those 36 year olds will wonder if they will ever get to experience a Championship and see that experience feels like. But this 88 year old man will still remember. When the Red Sox won the World Series, Bill Simmons wrote a book called “Now I Can Die In Peace”. I know what that means now. This Championship will be with me forever. 

It’s been two days now already since the Cavaliers won, and I still find myself reflecting a lot on my own feelings. Today, right now, nothing can drag me down. I listen to and watch national sports shows and they talk about LeBron James leaving again, and I don’t care. Let them talk. First of all, I don’t see LeBron leaving this summer yet, and second, I’m not going to let pointless speculation get in the way of my celebrating. If LeBron leaves, he leaves. It will suck, and it will hurt, and I will be sad to see him go again. But it won’t change what happened this season and I how I feel about this. 

Or, as LeBron would say, but that’s none of my business. 

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The thing that is so exciting about this all is the way this passion and energy spreads throughout the city and even through the other sports teams in Cleveland. Indians players were reflecting on the Cavaliers winning yesterday, talking about what it meant to them and how it made them feel. And then they went out and pulled off a nice come from behind win last night against Tampa. Sure, they might have come back and won regardless, but there was a sense from both fans and players that there was just no way they were going to go out and lose that game on that day. It just wasn’t going to happen. 

Who knows how long this feeling will last. I do wonder what next season is going to feel like. I find myself pondering what it will be like watching the Cavaliers in the playoffs next year and not have this dark cloud of inevitability hanging over me always, making me forever have seeds of doubt and despair as I watch. Everything is different now, and I’m going to enjoy this feeling as long as it lasts. 

*****

The Andy question

One thing I haven’t heard talked about at all since the Cavaliers won, but something we asked before the series started, should Anderson Varejao get a ring? Those who know me know how much Andy means to me. There was no bigger Varejao fan out there. Before the Finals started, this was a no-brainer for me. Of course he should get one, I thought. 

Now, I’m not so sure. I’m having a hard time reconciling the disgust I felt watching Andy flop against the Cavaliers. I’m struggling with the thought of Andy feeding inside information to the Warriors about the Cavaliers and how they operate. And I hate that Andy was used by the Warriors as a pawn to try to get under the skin of the Cavaliers (what, you thought the Warriors signed him because they thought he could actually help them?). But mostly, I hated watching him demonstrate the same passion, heart, energy, and reckless abandon that he always had for the Cavaliers against them.

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I don’t think Anderson Varejao should be given a ring. It crushed me to say that. I wish the Cavaliers had been able to keep Andy and still win the title. It sucks so much that Andy stayed loyal to the Cavaliers for so many years, especially the down years after LeBron left, and then got dealt right before the team finally reached ultimate glory. It’s painful to me that it went down like that. 

But Andy chose to sign with the team most likely to face the Cavaliers in the Finals. I know he didn’t ask to be traded or even want to be traded. And I completely understand that when he was bought out he was free to sign with any team he wanted (other than the Cavaliers, thanks to that loophole being closed after the Cavaliers exploited it with Zydrunas Ilgauskas in 2010). So why shouldn’t he have signed with the best team in NBA history and try to get his Championship? I don’t fault him for any of that. He did what was right for him. But that also made him an opponent of the Cavaliers. And I just don’t think the Cavaliers should hand out rings for just anyone, particularly someone who actively tried to stop them from getting said rings. 

None of this makes me happy, but we have to accept the reality of the situation. Ultimately, it will be up to the players. If they decide, as a team, that they want Andy to have a ring, then so be it. If they’re ok with it, who am I to object? But if I had a vote on the team, my vote today would be no. 

*****

That’s it for me. I would say “enjoy the rest of your week”, but I know I don’t have to. It’s impossible not to. Especially with the best parade ever happening tomorrow!


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