Written by: Josh Gutbrod
The Cleveland Cavaliers have fallen on hard times in what seems to have become an annual January theme. The reigning Eastern Conference champs have dropped three straight, part of a longer slump that has seen the team drop eight of its last eleven games. Rumors come out each day, proclaiming everything from the departure of JR Smith (actually not quite a bad idea) to LeBron himself is hurting the team’s ball movement. Fallen Cavalier hero Kyrie Irving is taking conference foe Boston to new heights and the quiet realization that LeBron can leave this summer hangs over the organization like a dark shadow.
To make matters worse, the next time the Cavaliers hit the court will be against arch-rival Golden State Monday night. As if all of the chaos suddenly surrounding the team was not enough, now up next are the Warriors. Nothing would drive Cleveland’s frustrations up more than a throttling from the team they have faced in three straight NBA Finals.
Yet at the end of the day, right now LeBron James is a Cleveland Cavalier. Tomorrow, he will be a Cleveland Cavalier. When the Cavs ultimately challenge the Warriors in a fourth straight NBA Finals, he will be a Cleveland Cavalier. Sure, the Cavs have dropped more than a few games lately, some of which the team had no business losing. Trading a player such as Tristan Thompson or JR Smith might not be a terrible idea. The team’s defense certainly could be and should be better.
But again, LeBron James is still a Cleveland Cavalier. As long as that statement is true, the Cavaliers should be considered the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. Seed and record aside, no team will keep the King from reaching his seventh straight NBA Finals. Regardless of whatever rumors come out, whatever winning streak or losing streak the Cavs are on, or whichever teams rise up in the East to challenge him, LeBron James is still the best basketball player in the world. His best game is better than anyone else’s, and the supporting cast around him in Cleveland is stronger than any LeBron has led in Cleveland despite the recent struggles.
So take a second, watch that funny little Aaron Rodgers clip, and relax Cavs fans. As bad as it can look at times, the King is still the King and the King is still in Cleveland. Nobody in the East is going to stop the Cavaliers because nobody is going to stop LeBron James. The rumors will disappear as the team starts winning again, and if there are roster moves made the moves will only increase the chances of winning this year.
The Cavaliers are in a position some franchises have never been in. The Cavaliers are a legitimate contender. Teams have highs and lows throughout an NBA season, and when a team is as consistently dominant as the Cavs have been in the East of course others are going to wish to see you fall. If anyone actually believes LeBron James slows down ball movement they probably also really enjoy Kyrie Irving’s “flat earth” idea. LeBron might not be able to beat the Warriors by himself, but the Warriors don’t play in the East. Congratulations Cleveland, see you in June.