What have you done for me lately has always been part of sports culture. What happened in the past matters, but it has an expiration date. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been basking in the glory of their sorta improbable championship from over three months ago, but it’s time to forget all that ever happened.
Both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have said they’ve rewatched the game a number of times. Irving mentioned it more as someone who simply wants to relive the best moment of his professional career and enjoys seeing that 3-pointer of his go in time after time. LeBron James said he looks for mistakes he made, which sounds like him, but I’m pretty sure he loves seeing that block on Andre Iguodala, even if it’s for the 100th time.
But glory doesn’t last forever, and the Cavaliers are back in action, like the rest of the NBA, beginning with training camp, and soon to be on their way with the preseason games. And the one thing that could provide the best motivation for the Cavaliers is knowing not just how the Warriors got better during the offseason (or at least tried to with the signing of Kevin Durant), but that they were the better, or more loaded team for most of last season. The Cavaliers simply raised their heads and took over at the best of moments.
One thing still missing in the Cavs preparations is J.R. Smith. Like with Tristan Thompson last season, everyone seems convinced that it’s only a matter of time before Smith and the Cavs find common ground and sign a contract. He doesn’t have other options for the money he’s asking, and Cleveland can’t sign a player of his caliber due to both the salary cap and anyone that’s any good already signed somewhere. What’s keeping the deal from being made? Smith wants $15 million a season, the Cavs are looking for around $12 million.
Cleveland have kept the formula basically unchanged: Minor additions, minor departures, while everything continues to revolve around James, Irving, Kevin Love and Thompson. It’s brought them two NBA finals and one NBA title. Add Smith back into the package, and why shouldn’t it work out again, considering some teams in the East got better, but not better enough?
For teams as championship driven as the Cavaliers, it’s sometimes difficult to bring everything they have at every stage of the regular season, something the Warriors might regret now considering it did take a toll on them, physical and maybe mostly mental, by the time the real prize was up for grabs. However, being in party-gloating mode when it’s almost October can’t be good for the season preparations.