And so it begins. LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving teamed up for the first time as part of the annual Wine & Gold Scrimmage the Cleveland Cavaliers hold each year at the beginning of every preseason. Unlike the past four years, this one came with plenty of expectations and anticipation.
It was the first time in four years that James stepped on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena with a Cavaliers jersey on. The capacity crowd was in quite the wild mood, suddenly seeing something close to a dream team appear before them. From one of the worst teams in the East four years in a row to a team that has the championship as its goal, suddenly becoming the favorites in the Eastern conference even after giving up on two number one draft picks.
This was a casual event. LeBron James was playing with gold chains around his neck. Rookie head coach (who is actually quite experienced, only outside the NBA) David Blatt was wearing jeans and a polo shirt. James played a prank on two rookies as they were entering the arena. This night was about having fun, and also testing the crowd reaction to the ‘chosen one’ returning home.
All the hate spewed in the direction of LeBron James, originating from the city of Cleveland, is gone. No jerseys burning. No LeBum or LeQuitter signs. Just adoration and love, or whatever it is you call it when fans go wild when a player makes an appearance, not to mention the deafening sound shaking the arena when his name was announced. Welcome Home signs, nothing else. The fans have forgotten, but they want a championship as an apology present.
Kevin Love got quite the cheer from the fans as well, especially when he showcased his ability to cover the floor with his quarterback passes, something he did quite often with the Timberwolves last season. The optimistic theory suggests that James now has a better big three situation than he did in Miami. Not just the age of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but the both of them being better 3-point shooters than Bosh and Wade. It’s still too soon to tell.
Besides the dunks and fun spreading all around, it was interesting to see Blatt go with what should be his starting lineup, probably: Irving, Dion Waiters, James, Love and Tristan Thompson. Remember, Varejao is going to be handled carefully. He also played in the World Cup which calls for more rest, but the Cavs are considering using him as a center, a position which he has played sporadically so far in his three-year career.
Just a scrimmage, but excitement has caught on quickly. The Browns are decent enough this season, but that’s probably not going to end with the playoffs. The Indians aren’t going to be in the playoffs. The Cavaliers are now the big hope of the city for a championship once again. James got them close, including the NBA finals in 2007, during his first 7-year stint with the team. No one knows how long it’s going to last this time, but it’s quite clear what the definition of success and failure is going to be.