The Cleveland Indians' 2012 season is finally and painfully over. A year that looked like it held some promise for a time before crashing in a fiery ball of death came to completion on Wednesday.
The Browns' season is off to a stellar start, bursting out of the gates to an 0-4 record. The receivers can’t catch, the linemen can’t block, and the head coach may or may not be lost in the sauce.
So it is with considerable excitement that I welcome Cavaliers basketball into my life to fill the role of “hope” in Cleveland sports.
The case can be made that the Cavs are actually the team in Cleveland that is closest to winning a championship, especially when you consider that the Indians are in need of a fairly thorough overhaul and the Browns will likely bring in a new regime after the season. Those teams aren’t exactly stable at this point.
But with the Cavs, we have three important elements that every winning team needs:
First, you need to have a passionate owner who is involved enough in the team to make difficult decisions and also support the franchise both financially and emotionally.
There’s no question that Dan Gilbert cares deeply about the Cavaliers and wants nothing more than for them to be winners. Though he may not be nationally respected by talking heads like Mike Wilbon, Gilbert is held in the highest regard by Cavs fans.
He wants to win just as much as we do and will do everything in his power to make that happen.
Byron Scott is entering his third season as head coach of Cavs and everything I have seen thus far has me convinced that he’s a great coach. He had very good success in New Jersey and New Orleans before coming to Cleveland, not mention the championships he won as a player with the Showtime Lakers. But more than that, it’s the way he manages the players on the team and puts them in the best possible situations and roles to succeed. He shows the toughness with his players that is so often lacking in professional sports.
While Coach Scott may not have the wins so far in Cleveland, he has demonstrated that he is the man for the job to lead the Cavs back to the playoffs.
Third, in the NBA, you need a star
You need Kyrie Irving.
Like most Cavs fans, I ate up all the news coming out of the Team USA Basketball camp as Kyrie put on a show. Reports were that in scrimmages against the best players in the NBA, Kyrie was at times the best player on the court.
What I wouldn’t have given to see even more video of those scrimmages!
Irving more than exceeded my expectations in his rookie season. Watching him play, I just could not—and still can't—get over how special he looked.
As a point guard, he has the unique ability to manage and control the game for three-plus quarters and then turn on the scoring late in the game if the need arises. We saw him take and make numerous game-winning shots, proving that the bright lights of the big stage aren't too much for a 19-year-old kid.
If he isn't already, by the end of the season, Kyrie will be regarded as a top five PG in the whole league, joining the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, and Russell Westbrook.
I only hope that Cleveland fans won't take for granted what they have in Irving.
It's easy to be a jilted fan after having the best player on the planet on your team for seven years, only to have him rip your heart out. But help yourself to some healing by diving headfirst into the Kyrie Irving experience!
In the NBA though, we know (all too well) that one guy cannot do it all on his own.
Enter Dion Waiters.
I've been pumping up the tires, changing the oil, checking the calipers, fixing the muffler, and driving the Dion Waiters bandwagon since the day after the draft this summer. If you're at all familiar with my work, you know that I'm a huge believer in Waiters. I think he's the real deal and is going to be a great player.
Of course, it's easy for me to say that now, before he's played a single game, just as it was easy for skeptical fans to bury him under the same circumstances.
I saw enough in his brief Summer League stint to make me a believer. He's in much better shape now than he was at that time, which will help out all aspects of his game, but most notably his shooting. Don't underestimate how a few extra pounds can adversely affect your shot.
I expect Waiters to play like a rookie this season, for sure. But playing alongside Kyrie, he has the opportunity to truly shine and show why the Cavs felt confident in taking him with the No. 4 overall pick.
What the Cavs have in the Irving/Waiters tandem is two dynamic playmakers who are equally as good with the ball as they are without it. It will truly be a joy to watch them grow and develop chemistry with each other this season and many more to come.
When I look at Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters in those absolutely fantastic yellow alternate jerseys, I have hope that good days are on the horizon for Cleveland again. It won't happen overnight, but it is most certainly coming.
You can follow Benjamin Flack on Twitter @ClevelandFlack.
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