Ardent supporters of Cleveland sports know not to say "it can't get any worse." When they do, things like a conniving, money-driven owner moving the heart and soul of the city to Baltimore happen.
Or they watch the future possible cornerstone of their baseball team suffer a horrifying knee injury on a home-plate collision in the seventh inning of a four-run game.
Or they learn, in a season full of disappointment and despair, an ankle tweak of the player that most exemplifies the blue-collar and working-class nature of the city turns out to be a season-ending injury.
But after Tuesday night in Los Angeles, it's hard to imagine the Cleveland Cavaliers reaching further depths of putridity.
Fifty-seven points. The lowest in franchise history.
An unbelievably paltry 29.9 field goal percentage.
Didn't crack more than 16 points in a quarter.
Down 51 points after three quarters, the highest deficit after 36 minutes in the NBA in almost 10 years.
Four starters that finished with a plus/minus worse than -35.
No player with more than one made field goal after one half.
Seventeen consecutive losses away from Quicken Loans Arena.
Twenty-one losses in 22 games.
Byron Scott said his team was "scared."
Antawn Jamison said it was "definitely one of the most embarrassing moments that I've been a part of as far as basketball."
Mo Williams tweeted "this **** is embarrassing. I feel like I can't even show my face in Cleve."
It was one of the most disheartening and pathetic performances in the history of the game of basketball. That isn't hyperbole—these are professional athletes making extraordinary amounts of money in one of the most lucrative times in NBA history that walked on the court of the two-time defending champions with no heart, no will, no determination, no competitive streak in them whatsoever.
Breaking it down piece by piece, maybe a 55-point defeat doesn't seem that bad after all. Or at least not as bad as it could have been.
And yet, since around 1:00 am last night, the buzz around the Internet, TV and radio hasn't been centered about Cleveland's historically bad and shameful performance. Instead it's been focused on the tweet of a former Cavalier: LeBron James.
While the game was getting out of hand, James couldn't help but relish in his former team being absolutely throttled in epic fashion:
"Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!"
I'm not a LeBron James fan. I don't know him at all—never met the guy. The only judgments I can make about him are through what I perceive him to be on the court and in the media. I don't have a personal vendetta against the man so I won't take time out of my day to intentionally bash him for no valid reason.
I could bring up the ideology that karma tends to work both ways so laughing and taunting someone that reached rock bottom probably isn't the best idea in the world.
I could bring up some "holier-than-thou" B.S. and quote various passages of the Bible that say "judge not, that ye be not judged" if God really is watching. But that's absurd.
I could bring up a widely accepted fact that, if karma is real and God does exist and is constantly watching, perhaps the result of a meaningless January basketball game isn't exactly high on their respective priority lists.
But when James decided to kick the Cavaliers when they were down, he deflected the topic of conversation back to himself instead of allowing it to remain where it belonged: on the exceptionally woeful semblance of a roster in Cleveland.
Every day that goes by, his preference to play in Miami looks more and more justified...and in reality it needed little justification in the first place. Ignore the fact that the Heat are steamrolling through the competition and instead focus on just how abysmal the Cavaliers have been.
Go ahead and re-read paragraphs five through 15. Even if he did feel a deep-seeded connection to the city of Cleveland and state of Ohio, would that be justification enough for a player considered to have the potential to be one of the greatest ever to toil away in his prime with a now-atrocious supporting cast that allows themselves to be blown out by 50 points?
Dan Gilbert's comments regarding James after the latter decided to sign with the Heat this offseason were vicious, tasteless and juvenile. It made James a somewhat sympathetic figure and only further justified his desire to leave.
And for everything James has been criticized for in the last six months (whether those criticisms were fair or unfair is another issue), the one thing you could say in his defense was that he was mature and educated enough to not start throwing darts back at an ungrateful owner and a tortured fan-base.
Until last night.
Those who are overly critical will take this opportunity to jump all over James and rip him to pieces for such a callous statement. And those who are faithful supporters will tell everyone to simply "get over it"—that it was just a tweet, not the end of the world.
That's where we are with LeBron James. Everything he does on the court and everything he says off it are blown out of proportion.
If he scores 40 points and tallies a triple-double, he's the most unstoppable player in the league history. If he misses a game-winning shot at the buzzer, he doesn't have the killer instinct or intestinal fortitude to carry a team in the closing minutes a la Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Like it or not, this is how coverage of him takes place in today's society.
But for Cleveland fans, the sting of Jan. 11 won't fade away on Jan. 12 or Jan. 13 when the sports world loses interest in this particularly story and once again starts focusing on the latest Carmelo Anthony trade rumor.
For six months they've tried to develop a new identity and culture for their team. And it's a difficult adjustment for a city and region starving for a championship of any kind to go from perennial contenders with an anointed savior to the worst team in the NBA and the laughingstock of every basketball fan.
James had the opportunity to quietly bask in the failures of his former employer (not necessarily the Cavaliers team but Dan Gilbert). Instead he chose a way to further enhance his new villain persona.
That's his prerogative and I'm not here to judge it. But those suggesting that Cleveland fans stop whining about losing LeBron and quit lamenting about the past should know that it's difficult to do when James won't move on either.
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