Posted Jun 23 2011 1:41AM
CLEVELAND -- Hire a sky writer and paint the message among the clouds. Scream it from the highest mountain top.
No, wait. This is huge. It needs a grand gesture.
This is the new day for the Cavaliers, the one they waited for through 50 usually painful weeks, the one that bends the talk from the giant crater in the middle of Quicken Loans Arena from the heart-gouging of last summer to a bright future in an instant that is, dare they say, payback starting tonight for all the franchise has endured. This is the basketball world going their way again.
The Cavs have the first and fourth picks in the Draft Thursday, the first team to have two selections that high since the Rockets in 1983 and the only to do it since the lottery era began in '85. Not only that, the choice that became No. 1 didn't even belong to Cleveland most of the season, not until it arrived as part of the Baron Davis-Mo Williams deal in February and then having it beat the odds by jumping from the eighth-best odds heading into the lottery to the top spot.
The only negative is that the timing of the good fortune comes in the year that most everyone around the league is projecting a bad Draft class. They don't look at it that way, of course, instead focusing on the chance to add two long-term starters as part of the recovery from 19-63 in the standings and 29th in shooting, 27th in shooting defense and 26th in rebound percentage. There is no negative.
"I think what we realize as a franchise, and the fans realize, is this is a process," said Len Komoroski, the team president since 2003. "This is another step forward in the process."
The idea is to avoid setting Thursday as a contrast to the immeasurable free-agent loss of last July. That's fair. Rarely has a day gone by in almost a year that the Cavaliers have not had the roster devastation put in front of them. Enough with the contrasts already.
On the other hand: C'mon.
If this moment would have been celebrated here no matter what, it goes to another level, to a national level, to a feel-good level even for fans of other teams, because a city is being allowed to stitch its heart back together. That's part of it. The sympathy created by The Decision went far beyond just the roster.
Picking first and fourth, underwhelming talent pool or not, has greater meaning exactly because of summer 2010. That connection is inescapable no matter how much the Cavaliers may want to distance the past. They distance the past by getting good again, and Thursday is an ideal getting-good opportunity. All the better if owner Dan Gilbert posts an emotional letter on the team web site proclaiming the importance of the night, written in Comic Sans font, of course, just as he rallied fans with an open wound 50 weeks ago.
Try not to draw a straight line from then to now. One of the first public post-lottery acts by Kyrie Irving, expected to go No. 1, was to deny a rumor he had considered being represented by the marketing firm and agent attached to a former Cavalier. Not true, the Duke point guard said. But, yes, they are close in a way that won't allow the past to quietly slip away.
"He's definitely filled like a big-brother role in my life, just giving me advice, and when I was going through the three-month stretch when I got hurt, he was definitely talking to me every single week, telling me to keep my faith," Irving said, noting the toe injury that cost him most of 2010-11. "That relationship is special to me just based on the fact that I have someone in the NBA already that's giving me advice on what things to do and what things not to do is always helpful."
And now Irving will probably be stepping into the vacuum created when big brother left.
"I definitely think about filling a void, but the most important thing is I just want to contribute as best I can, just go there as best prepared as I can be," he said. "That's all I'm worried about right now."
He is trying to deal in the present, in other words. There's a lot of that going around, which is understandable. This is, after all, the new day for the Cavaliers.
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