BASKETBALL PARTY RAGES ON!

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BASKETBALL PARTY!BASKETBALL PARTY comes back for week two of its lady-led podcast reign over NBA conversation. Kim Huston and Erin M. Routson discuss Blake Griffin’s essay about Donald Sterling, who would make the best NBA emojis, shorty game and its implications on the length of the season, and the career-ending Drake airball as well plenty of shoutouts. WELCOME BACK TO BASKETBALL PARTY!

FOUR! MORE! DAYS!

Erin M. Routson is an art director & freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her Halloween costume is the corn emoji. Follow her running commentary on Twitter @dietcokeforever.

Kim Huston is a copywriter based in Louisville, KY. She once dressed as Ben Wallace for Halloween. You can attempt to follow her on Twitter @kimpossiblydire.

GIVE ME A BASKETBALL PARTY!

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GIVE ME A BASKETBALL PARTY

At long last, a weekly podcast comprised entirely of two adult women talking about pro basketball is upon us – welcome to BASKETBALL PARTY. Kim Huston and Erin M. Routson are kicking off the 2014-15 NBA season, as well as their rookie podcast season, with a preview episode dedicated to the shorty game, what we’re most excited about (GO CAVS!) as well as some in-depth discussion of Kid Rock, Stan Van Gundy’s halloween costume/coaching crossover opportunities and the best NBA ad to ever air on television.

Erin M. Routson is an art director & freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY who still owns a Delonte West Cavs jersey. Follow her running commentary on everything on Twitter @dietcokeforever.

Kim Huston is a copywriter based in Louisville, KY. She’ll write about anything if you pay her. You can attempt to follow her on Twitter @kimpossiblydire.

Greatest Hits: A Sanctions Letter from Stern to the NBA

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Breaking news here, everyone. I have obtained a letter David Stern sent out just tonight to the staff of the NBA and all thirty teams. While, ultimately, I cannot guarantee the 100% authenticity of this letter, I can say I got it from a very trustworthy source. I met a guy in a Jim’s Steakout bathroom who told me he was a scout for an unnamed Western Conference team. He wore a tie and everything, so I think he was legit.

Read the letter for yourself, though. If this isn’t the real deal, it is a very convincing approximation of what a David Stern letter sounds like:

 

Hey jerks and jerkettes,

David Stern here. I just wanted to reiterate that I am on my way out and I don’t care anymore. I’m going to do what I want. If it pisses anyone off, I’m just going to kick the problem back on that gangly douchebag Silver. I held myself back for a long time now because I had to worry about working with all you morons for years to come, but that isn’t an issue anymore. Deal with it.

The real David Stern has come out to play, and he’s tired of all your crap. I’m trying to run a business here, and I have jerkbags like Gregg Popovich trying to pull cute little schemes like resting all his good players for a nationally televised game. Because maybe it will help his team in some minor way? Screw off, GREGG. Why are you assholes shitting on all the cool stuff we do? Like big regular season matchups and sideline interviews and rigging the draft lottery errr… something to do with twitter or youtube.

I made the NBA into the powerhouse it is today, yet you idiots keep trying to mess everything up. You don’t see this BS in football! So, yeah… I sanctioned GREGG. Deal with it because I am not done.

Please refer to the below list of things that are now sanctioned from this moment forth for the sake of our fans:

1. Reggie Evans. If the Nets play that ugly, no offense dickweed again, I’m going to fine their asses.  Just play Humphries longer. He was married to a Kardashian once.

2. Getting high before games. You know it’s actually against the rules to do drugs anyway… oh, and against US Law, but I get it. I’m cool. I’m not trying to rock the boat too much. Just wait until after the game to get high. People can tell when you’re all stoned and not giving a shit.

3. Beards. I get the allure. I went through a crazy beard phase myself once, but this is getting out of hand. James Harden has ruined it for everyone. I don’t care if kids think they’re cool — these beards are scaring old white people. You know… the people who buy tickets while the young people all stream their games for free online.

4. Any small market team with a losing record. Come on, guys. It’s like you’re begging me to contract the league before I leave.

5. Ugly people who buy courtside seats. I know I can’t fine the fans, so I’m going to fine any team that doesn’t kick them the hell out and replace their empty seats with models.

6. Dippin’ Dots. Ice cream of the future, my ass! In my day, we had two kinds of ice cream – vanilla and chocolate. Neither of those came in the form of a billion tiny frozen balls at double the manufacturing cost. Get those out of our arenas.

 7. The players union. You know who you are.

8. Benches. People come to see the starters — not a bunch of no talent glorified D-Leaguers. From now on, give the fans what they want — more star players playing more minutes.

I’ll have more sanctions for everyone later, but start working on this list. Especially the part about Dippin’ Dots. I don’t know what that shit is all about.

Sincerely,

David Stern

(P.S. Suck it.)

A lot of interesting stuff in that letter — too much for me to break down at the moment — so I’ll let the letter stand on its own. But for anyone who thought Stern was basically going to be a lameduck Commissioner during his last few years on the job, clearly he’s going the opposite direction. We’ll have to see how these and future sanctions shape the NBA in years to come.

Greatest Hits: Royce White Isn’t Helping His Cause, but He Could Be

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Royce White is handling this all wrong, which is different than saying he is completely at fault for the feud between the Rockets, his anxiety disorder, and him. I am giving both sides the benefit of the doubt that nobody outside the team knows enough about this situation to fully assign blame. I find it sad that White hasn’t given NBA fans the benefit of the doubt of fully disclosing the truth behind this feud.

“In hindsight, perhaps it was not a good idea to be open and honest about my anxiety disorder,” a statement from White said.

Give people some credit here. White’s travel issues stem from a combination of an anxiety disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which often go hand in hand. I should know as I have the same disorders. Although my triggers and obsessions don’t involve plane travel, I get what White is going through. It can be crippling at times. Most people either know someone with these issues or have them as well. Most people are sympathetic.

The issue here is not a matter of sympathy over White’s anxiety problems, but a matter of information and poor decision making. On the Rockets’ side, they are saying he hasn’t shown up to practice or met with their team-ordered therapist. On White’s side, he says the Rockets have been inconsistent in their travel allowances. It is one side flinging blame at the other, and we only know one thing for sure — White hasn’t shown up to practice or met with the team-ordered therapist.

That is the only thing we know for sure because White is calling out his organization without getting into specifics. If the Rockets are not living up to their end of the deal, I would like to hear the how and why. What was the original deal? In what way aren’t they honoring it? If White were giving a persuasive speech in some undergrad Communications class right now, he would be failing. He is telling fans what to believe without giving them any reason to believe it.

To make matters worse for himself, he is showing no signs of good faith from his side. White is not important enough to his team at this point to think refusing to go to practice is a negotiating tactic he can use to win. He hasn’t even played in a game yet this season. Staying away from his team will only serve to anger his team and lose the support of NBA fans. It is a move that is a sign of immaturity from a young player. Real men face their problems head-on. Real men don’t try to hold their team hostage in the most laughably weak ransom attempt I have ever seen.

I know he probably finds seeing a team-ordered therapist a little degrading as well, and make no mistake about it — that move IS honestly degrading. White has his own therapist that he already works with, so the implication that he needs to see one the Rockets personally picked out is offensive. Still, for the sake of the situation, he should have gone to see this therapist while making it known that he is only doing it as a sign of good faith. He could have bluntly stated that he is going to stick with his own therapist in the long term.

White could have turned both of these prospects — going to practice and going to the team-ordered therapist — around to benefit himself. It would have shown him to be a reasonable guy just looking for a solution to a problem most people are sympathetic towards. He could have gone, and then he could have spoken to the press about the issues he was having. He could have become the good guy in this situation.

Instead, he has given the Rockets strength. If the Rockets are truly in the wrong here — if they aren’t living up to their original agreement — all White has to do is explain. All he has to do is go to practice, say he wants to help his team win any way he can, and explain why his team isn’t dedicated to helping him. That would help White a lot more than the games he is playing now.

Greatest Hits: Harden Trade Had to Happen: The Thunder Were Getting Old(er)

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Listen. We all loved the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook-James Harden trio. They were loveable, the won a lot of games, and they were actually incredibly close to winning a title last year. Closer than the fact that it was a five game series would indicate. It was a great dynamic, but Presti was up against a wall with this group. Every year, some very important numbers would get larger and larger with seemingly no end in sight. The Thunder were getting older, so Presti did what he had to do.

He traded Harden.

Last season, the Thunder slipped to only the fifth youngest NBA team and second youngest playoff team. That figure was bound to get worse this upcoming season. The Thunder only drafted one player in the 2012 draft, and he happened to play two years of college (instead of the minimally required one year). Instead of maximizing their draft potential by drafting the youngest available player, they went with “best available player” from a “basketball playing ability perspective” instead. So while, yes, they replaced Derek Fisher with a 21 year old (in terms of roster spots), they didn’t get as young in the draft as they could have.

But it gets more disturbing.

According to many leading doctors and scientists, human beings age roughly one year every single year! This means every returning member of the Thunder is one year older at the start of this season than they were on the same date last year. This alone brings the average age of the entire returning roster up by about one year. It’s messed up, but true.

Someone had to go in order to maintain a certain amount of youth going forward. The combined ages of the players Oklahoma City sent out in this trade equaled 96. The combined years they got back? 49. So far with this trade, they were able to get 47 years younger. They currently have 17 players on their roster as well, so it isn’t even like they have to now sign two more players to make up for the two extra they sent out.

Even if we look at the difference of average ages included in the trade, this works out best for the Thunder in the long term. The average age going out is 24 years. The average age coming in is 24.5 — a slight increase for this year that is driven solely by Kevin Martin being an old fart at 29 years old. However, Martin is in the final year of his contract. Any damage he is doing to the Thunder’s average age only hurts them for a year. From there, they can make it rain young men with their newly acquired first and second round picks.

Part what made the Thunder exciting in the first place was that they were so young and so talented, and Harden did not fit into that future. While even the oldest of players on this team look pretty young (Perkins looks like a mean newborn), Harden looked like a dirty old hobo. The other players on the team even joked about him being an old man. What was Presti supposed to do? Let Harden ruin the locker room by spreading around his old manisms? I would certainly hope not!

Not only did Presti make a bold move to keep Oklahoma City one of the youngest teams in the league for years to come, but he got rid of a locker room killer who insisted on trying to make the team seem older than it even was. I am sure a lot of people are going to say Presti made a move “too soon” or that he should have gone all in on a “potential dynasty” or other such nonsense. Don’t listen to any of that crap. What is more important: winning titles or staying young, sexy, and cool? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Greatest Hits: NBA Players You Should Dress Up as for Halloween (Or Just Whenever)

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Let’s start this off with a reality check. Once you graduate from college, you shouldn’t be dressing up for Halloween. If a friend invites you to his/her Halloween party where you are expected to dress up, you need to get rid of that friend. If you think otherwise, I encourage you to become a grownup and then check in with me again.

Feel free to follow this flow chart for further instructions:

areyouanadultflowchart

 

Lucky for you, all these costume ideas involve you dressing up as current NBA players. If you are lucky enough, maybe you can convince an especially dumb girl that you really ARE one. And then who knows? Marriage, probably.

Matt BarnesMattBarnes

The great thing about this costume is Barnes already looks like Frankenstein’s monster or a zombie. Definitely something that was dead once, but not anymore. If nobody knows who Matt Barnes is, you can always say, “Just kidding – I’m actually a ghoul.” Be careful, though. Someone may shoot you out of pure fear if your costume is too good. Take that how you will.

Paul Pierce (the time he got stabbed)

PaulPierceThis costume will look cool whether or not anyone has any idea who Paul Pierce is. If you look enough like Pierce, dress up in night club clothes (2000 styles, though) and have fake knives coming out of your back. Maybe find a way to attach a broken bottle to your head. Make sure it looks bloody! If you don’t look a lot like Pierce, you may want to wear his jersey instead (still with the knives, bottle, and blood).

Chris Andersen

Want to look like a tall cartoon drug addict? Chris-Andersen-Haircut-Styles-300x300Andersen looks like the type of guy who REALLY DIDsay, “When I grow up, I want to be a junkie.” This costume isn’t complete without a bag full of whatever drug got Andersen banned from the NBA. Your guess is as good as mine as to what that drug actually is, so try to be creative! Just remember, it was so bad the NBA refused to disclose what it actually was, but we know it had to be one (or more) of these: amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, opiates, and PCP. Since you can’t test for LSD, I would leave that one out.

Tony Parker

TonyParkerIf you aren’t into looking scary, Parker is a great choice for a costume. It is also a great option for dudes who aren’t very tall. Just shave your head, put on your best French accent, and come up with a really good sob story about how you still love Eva Longoria, but you wish someone could come along to save you… and your heart. If you look anything like Tony Parker and don’t get laid in this costume, then I can’t help you get laid. I don’t know. You’re doing something horribly wrong, and you are beyond help or sympathy.

As a final suggestion, just find your NBA doppelganger and dress up as him. I don’t know what you look like, so I can’t account for any uncanny similarities. However, if you don’t happen to look like anyone OR (especially) if you look like someone on the above list, follow my initial recommendations. I wouldn’t lead you astray.

Greatest Hits: Rondossary (An Internet Glossary of Rondo Terms)

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Hello reader,

As you may have noticed, watching Rondo play and subsequently talking about his play requires a different kind of thinking and a varying set of terms from other players. Whether reading articles and Twitter or just talking to a bunch of buds at your local bar, water cooler, or YMCA basketball court, it can sometimes be daunting when a Ronbro (you’ll see) is dropping some Rondo logic (Rongic?) using strange but sexy terms you have never heard before. We are here to help with an ever growing Rondossary to keep fans abreast of what Rondo-related terms they need to be aware of while talking about Rondo.

Ronbros – Bros (or broettes) who are fans of Rondo. This term is not about which Ronbro is a bigger fan – it is a way to unite all Ronbros into a community of Ronbrodom (Rondmunity – see next entry). We are all Ronbros – from the guy who just likes to watch the occasional Rondo clip on Youtube to the little girl who is a diehard Celtics fan. Being a Ronbro isn’t about what makes us different – it’s about the community of Rondo love.

Rondmunity – A gathering of two or more Ronbros. Also refers to the greater community of Ronbros as a whole (including the Ronbro internet Rondmunity).

Rondobate – When someone injures your arm in the middle of self-pleasure, but you power through it with flair because you are such a badass. (definition via Boosh)

Rondo Island – The island where baby Rondos are hatched. It is part of the city of Sabang, Indonesia in the province of Aceh. Thousands of Rondo eggs are laid and hatched here every year. Rajon Rondo was the first to ever make it to the NBA. Most Rondos live their entire life on Rondo Island, playing a quick and exciting brand of basketball (although with many missed jump shots).

Rondomination – This term is courtesy of Matt Moore — it’s one of those games when Rondo becomes RONDO. It’s a game consisting of a billion Rundos. Or just one or two massive Rundos. It’s when Rajon Rondo takes over the entire game, and it seems like there are a billion Rondos all over the court. A Rondomination is a game where Rondo is an unstoppable mix of Multiple Man and the Flash.

Rondophobia – A condition where one has an unreasonable fear or hatred of admitting that Rondo is now better than their formally great (but now declining) point guard. This is closely related to Nashomania — a condition where Steve Nash fans greatly overvalue Nash while undervaluing other players (this condition is said to be the cause of Nash’s undeserved back-to-back MVP awards).

Rondosaurus – A type of basketball-playing half-man/half-dinosaur species. These animals are called “Rondos” for short.

Rundo – A point in the game when Rondo takes over and initiates a run by himself. He can do this via scoring and/or assists, but he must be directly responsible for every point scored in the run in some way for it to be considered a Rundo.

YOLONDO – A mutated version of “You Only Live Once” – now with a Rondofied punch. Anyone can do something crazy and deserving of a YOLO as an excuse to do it, but not everyone can YOLO with a Rondoesque swag.  You want to go drink an entire thirty pack of beer by yourself? YOLO. You want to go drink an entire thirty pack of beer by yourself while sky diving and shooting the engine out of the airplane after you jump? YOLONDO. If you are going to do something because YOLONDO, you have to do it with style and swag.

This Rondossary is a constant work in progress. If you have a Rondo term you believe should be included here, please email me at kal at igohardnow.com or leave a comment in this article’s comment section. We will update this page with new terms as they come in.

Greatest Hits: Calculating the Worth of a Championship

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Not all championships are equal. If — in a hypothetical universe — one team won 99% of the championships, any championship won in that remaining 1% would be worth more. It’s like the difference between giving someone with billions of dollars another million dollars and giving someone with no money a million dollars. That million dollars has more worth to the person with no money — it means more and makes a bigger difference. Of course, the worth of a championship is a little more complicated than calculating what a million dollars would be worth to different people. A championship has no practical worth. Its worth is contained entirely in feelings of pride and excitement — its worth is decided by emotions.

This article will attempt to figure out the factors that go into that worth.

It was my original plan to create some sort of formula to decide the worth of a championship, but the more I pondered the issue, the clearer it was that many of the facets of such a formula would be impossible to calculate.  We will have to settle on discussing the factors that would go into a championship worth formula instead. At least we can use these factors as thinking points when determining worth for ourselves.

For the sake of this article, words like “winning” and “success” relate only to ultimate winning and ultimate success — IE – winning a title.

Factor 1 – Number of Fans

This factor (combined with Factors 2 and 3) is the main reason why a formula would be impossible to create. Figuring out the number of fans for each individual team would involve censusing the entire world population. However, number of fans can usually pass a small thought test. For example, it is very likely that there are more New York Knicks fans than Minnesota Timberwolves fans. New York City is just a much bigger and farther reaching market. In terms of pure numbers, more people care about the Knicks than the Timberwolves — or so we can reasonably assume (probably).

Factor 2 – How Much Fans Actually Care About Their Team

Not all fans are made the same. Two people can call themselves Spurs fans, but one of those fans could be heavily invested in the team while the other vaguely pays attention to how the team is doing through box scores and Sportscenter. Again, the entire world population would need to be censused on how much they care about their team. My thought is to keep it to a simple scale of 1-10 (a Fanatic Rating or FR for short) . Fans at the lower end of the scale are as close to indifferent about the team as one can get while still technically being fans. Fans at the higher end of the scale have an obsession bordering on madness. Since we are only factoring in the positive worth of a championship, there would be no negative ratings.

The base worth of any one championship is decided by the number of fans multiplied by the average Fanatic Rating.  So let’s say the Washington Wizards have 4,000 fans with an average FR of 6.5. The base worth for a Wizards title would be 26,000. Of course, this number in isolation doesn’t really MEAN anything. This number only has meaning when calculated against other titles (or potential titles if, for instance, we are calculating what a title for each individual team would hypothetically be worth this season). It’s like looking at a score in a leaderboard — this number’s position against other numbers is what creates the meaning.

The lowest base worth of any title is the lowest result of the number of fans multiplied by the average FR. The highest base worth is the highest result. This initially skews the worth of any title in favor of larger markets, but do not worry — the base worth of a title is not the same as the actual worth. Several other factors exist that either add to or subtract from the worth of a title.

Factor 3 – Fans Who Are Also Fans of More Than One Team/Success of That Other Team

It is hard to feel sorry for Knicks fans, considering that a great many of them are also Yankees and Giants and Jets and [Insert Name of Local New York City Hockey Team Here] fans. All of these teams have won championships within the last twenty years — the Yankees being especially prolific at winning them. If a Knicks fan is also a Yankees fan, that takes quite the sting off of the Knicks being so hopeless.

On the other hand, a Cavs fan who is also a Browns and/or Indians fan has known no joy or relief. If anything, being a fan of multiple losing teams would make any single title for any of those teams worth so much more. Lack of success in this case multiples the worth of a title.

Being a fan isn’t that simple, though. A fan of a certain team does not have to be from that team’s geographic region, and this complicates the issue of what other teams that fan supports. This third factor cannot be calculated even partially by looking at how well all of a city’s professional franchises have done.  A Golden State Warriors fan who lives in Europe probably cares very little about how well the San Jose Sharks do or don’t do during any given season, but that fan may care about something weird… like soccer?

Factor 4 – Overall Success of a Franchise

The Celtics and Lakers are the winningest NBA franchises in terms of total titles. When a franchise has had a lot of overall success, it makes any additional title they win mean less (usually… we’ll get to exceptions to that rule with Factor 6). This factor is pretty self-explanatory.

Factor 5 – Recent Success of a Franchise

While the Mavericks have less titles than the 76ers, I would argue that in complete isolation (not considering either cities’ other teams), a 76ers title would mean more. Titles have relatively short memories. The longer it has been since the last title, the more the next title matters. Title proximity is just as important as overall franchise success — maybe more so.

Factor 6 – Length of Franchise Existence

It would be completely unfair to group both the Cavs and the Thunder together as “teams who have never won a title.” How long franchise has existed means a lot. The people of Oklahoma City can’t rightfully complain about not wining a title in 2007 because their team didn’t exist in 2007. They have less room to complain than even a team like the Pistons who have had a lot of franchise success and have even won a title within the last 10 years. Another name for this factor could be the “wait your turn” factor. In terms of complaining about not winning a title, relatively new franchises need to get in line behind others.

Factor 7 – Recent Fanbase Turmoil

This is probably the most variable factor. Turmoil could be as small as a star player leaving for another team (IE – Lebron James leaving Cleveland) or as big as a hurricane completely wrecking a city (IE – Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans). The further the time proximity from the event of turmoil, the less this factor matters. This can also be called the “feel good story” factor.

Of course, other people may consider different factors in the worth of a championship, but I believe these are the main seven factors to calculating that worth. We will never have enough data to precisely calculate the worth, but at least these can serve as thought points when considering the worth of any specific championship.

Greatest Hits: Tanked

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The internetz have been all a-buzz lately with the NBA Lottery – specifically – DESTROYING IT! DUN DUN DUNNNNN!

The thought is that rewarding bad teams promotes the idea that teams need to try to be bad – as if the Knicks needed any help.

The argument is based around the idea that everyone should try to be good all the time, because Santa is watching. And I understand the sentiment and wish that we lived in a world where there were rainbows every day and my shit didn’t stink. But we don’t.

There are two problems with stopping the practice of rewarding teams for being bad –

1. Good-bye fan-bases. If you are the fan of a bad team, you would have very little hope of ever getting better. As a connoisseur of bad teams, the only thing that maintains my interest in the 2nd half of the season is the idea of who my team will take in the draft. If you take that away, do you really think I’m going to tune in to watch goddamn Samardo Samuels every night?

2. It won’t help. If you stop rewarding the bad teams with high picks, there is really no ‘intelligent’ way to build a team. If I’m Milwaukee, I know I’m not in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. The only other choice to be ‘good’ is to overpay for 2nd tier guys and max out the salary cap with bad deals. If they overpay for 2nd tier guys then DO get lucky in the lottery – they have a team full of crap and bad deals that make it impossible to keep that star. It would still be smarter to be terrible, save the cap space and wait to get lucky with a superstar and build the team around them then.

Is the Lottery perfect? No – but in a league where a lot of small-market fans are disenfranchised with their team’s ability to compete against the Lakers and Knicks in the free agency market, taking away the chance to cheer Anthony Davis’ uni-brow is effectively killing basketball in those markets.

Without rewarding the worst teams, they may not try to tank, but without any high picks to help them out, they may not look much different.

Greatest Hits: Lessons from LeBron

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Being a fan of a small market team is difficult. The moment you draft a superstar player, the clock immediately begins to tick down. Seven years. While a lot can happen in your personal life in seven years, seven years is next to nothing in basketball terms. That’s only six meager drafts in which to flesh out the rest of your team and likely only two to three of those will be lottery picks. That’s six trade deadlines to swap your assets for picks, assuming there are other teams in the league that have a need for them. Six off-seasons to unload salary and attract whatever marginally talented free agents are available that are willing to take a risk and play in a smaller market or, God forbid, play in a city where it snows. Ugh.

Building a Championship team is difficult enough to begin with, but once you factor in the unique problems that a small market faces, it can be damn near impossible. History would support this thought. In the past 20 years, only eight teams have built a champion, and of them, only three would qualify as a small market. Despite the odds being extremely stacked against them, fans of small market teams have embraced the so-called “Oklahoma City way” of building a contender. Personally, I’m highly skeptical of this plan, and will refer you to friend of the blog Amin Vafa’s excellent reasoning over at Hardwood Paroxysm for a fantastic writeup of exactly why I’m so skeptical.

One of the primary arguments for the “Oklahoma City way” is the failure of the Cleveland Cavaliers under LeBron James. Despite having one of the greatest players of all-time, the Cavaliers were never able to clinch that Championship that the city wanted so badly. The closest they got was in 2007 when they reached the Finals only to be swept by the Spurs in embarrassing fashion. From there, every move the Cavaliers made was later spun into a reason why they failed. Mo Williams was a terrible second option to LeBron and would have been better replaced by a younger player taken from the draft. Speaking of which, the Cavaliers got too good, too soon and should have remained a lottery team longer, picking up more young talent. The few first rounders they had shouldn’t have been wasted on guys like Luke Jackson or Christian Eyenga (this hurts me to write). And of course, that blockbuster trade they made which brought in Delonte West, Ben Wallace and Wally Szczerbiak, would have been better if it was for lottery picks instead of veterans.

As a Cavs fan, I struggle with this logic. I mean, I totally understand it and, in a way, agree with it. I’m also totally happy that the Cavaliers are currently taking a drastically different approach in building around Kyrie Irving. What I struggle with is the conclusion that must be reached if you follow this line of logic; that the LeBron James era Cavaliers were a failure.

Does anyone look at the Patrick Ewing era Knicks as a failure because they never won a title? Does playing in the league at the same time as Jordan’s Bulls and Hakeem’s Rockets give them an excuse to never getting that chip? If Oklahoma City manages to make it the Finals but constantly falls short to the Miami Heat, will they be a failure? Hell, if the Miami Heat become a dynasty, will the “Miami way” become a thing? If it does, what does that say about the current era New York Knicks that are following the same blueprint but struggling to make the playoffs over the Milwaukee Bucks? Does that mean Drew Gooden should be named the MVP?

More importantly, to me at least, should I let that water down the feelings I have for moments such as this?

Putting my personal feelings about LeBron post-Decision aside, I can’t label a team that was so fun to watch and provided me with so many strong, lasting moments such as that a failure simply because they never won a Championship. It’s the same reason why I can’t write off the mid-90’s Cleveland Indians teams as a failure. I can’t go back and revisit those moments without feeling that initial rush of elation I felt at the time. I just can’t label these teams failures.

That brings us to today. My team once again finds itself with a budding young superstar and, once again, talk has turned towards building a Championship contending team. Only this time, there’s a debate about whether the Cavaliers should be following the “Oklahoma City way” and losing more games to build through the draft. Again, I understand the argument. As constructed, the Cavaliers will be destroyed in the first round and sent promptly packing by either Chicago or Miami, and I have no illusions that anything other than that will occur. That said, I just can’t be angry that this team is winning.

Why let the potentially false promise of a Championship in the future cloud your enjoyment of games occurring today? While the “Oklahoma City way” sounds good on paper, it factors out the circumstantial situations that arise on the way to a championship. You could build a contender and then have it all fall apart because of freak knees injuries like in Portland. Or you could build a great team that looks to be far and away the favorites to win it all, but then face off against a team of veterans in the Finals that play like it’s their last shot at greatness like what what happened to Miami last year. You could even build a team that has the best record in the league yet has glaring matchup problems like the 2009 Cavaliers against the Magic or like this current generation of the Chicago Bulls against the Miami Heat. Or hell, what if you build a contender but then everything goes ass-up because your superstar wants to play with his buddies on the beach and just straight up gives up? What if you stockpile a ton of draft picks, but they’re all busts?

There’s just too many ‘if’s’ involved for me to let the potential of winning a Championship affect my enjoyment of the present day. Even more fundamentally, as competitive a person as I am, it’s not my Championship. I’m not Chris Grant. I don’t work for the Cavaliers and the only time I’ll ever step on that court is if I have courtside seats. While I’m sure watching a Cleveland franchise finally win a championship will be pretty awesome, honestly how satisfying can it really be? Would it be more satisfying than every win or Kyrie Irving highlight not only this season, but for the next three? In a strange way, LeBron was right when he discussed after last year’s Finals how the next day I’ll wake up in my bed with all my problems. Sports shouldn’t be a fill-in for other parts of your life. Watching your team win a championship shouldn’t be a therapeutic or a life-changing event. It should be fun. Hell, sports should be fun. The moment it’s not fun is the moment I want out.  (Note: before you accuse me of being a fair-weather fan, let me point out that I started my old Cavaliers blog during the midst of the losing streak last year, my definition of fun is pretty warped). And I’m sorry, holding back from enjoying the present for the potential that something might happen in the future just isn’t fun.

That said, LeBron’s still an asshole. He was wrong about that.

And that’s why, I’m taking the most I GO HARD NOW stance possible and adopting “fuck it” as my new motto for the Cavaliers. If they win, awesome, it was a fun game. If they lose, awesome, potentially better chance of getting a better player in the draft. Much like my opinion towards religion, I’m taking the agnostic approach and just going with the flow. There’s just enough chance and luck on either side of this argument for me to avoid it completely. Plus, I really don’t want to let the false promise of a Championship ruin moments like this:

Come on. How can you not enjoy that?