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Thanks for the Memories, TT
Dear Tristan …
As you know, I was not present in the high-level negotiations that concluded with you signing a deal with the Celtics. Now that you have, however, I wanted to wish you all the luck in the world – except when you play the Cavaliers. Duh.
But with Boston making it official on Monday, what I really wanted to say was thanks for everything you did during your time here in Cleveland – both on and off the floor.
Thanks for understanding Cavalier fans and embracing what it’s like to be a Clevelander. Not every player that comes to town does.
You did. You mirrored our passion; you fed it and fed off it.
You gave everything you had, physically and emotionally, on the floor – whether that season’s team was headed for the Finals or headed for the Lottery. You fought through illness and injury to play in 447 straight games. You were a blue-collar dude in a blue-collar town.
We eat that stuff up here!
You’ve seen it all on the floor during those years, too.
You’ve been a cellar-dweller and an NBA Champion, started 429 games and come off the bench for 190 more. You’ve been cheered and jeered playing against your hometown team. You’ve seen seven head coaches, 17 assistants and 113 different teammates. You even switched shooting hands after your first two years in the league.
When the team needed offense during those early years, you produced: averaging double-digit scoring with stellar work on the boards. When LeBron James returned and the team traded for Kevin Love, you revised your game – setting hard screens for the four-time MVP, clashing with opponents’ big men, working the glass on the both ends.
Thanks for all your heavy lifting in four straight trips to the Finals – but, to me, thank you especially for Game 6 in 2016.
After winning Game 5 in Golden State behind heroic performances from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, it was you who set the tone when the series came back to Cleveland. You came out that night like your soul was on fire – grabbing nine boards in the first quarter and didn’t miss a shot from the floor all night. There was no chance the Warriors were leaving with a win that night.
Thanks for always giving back.
In the perennial “Big Shots and Little Stars” fundraiser at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to benefit Flashes of Hope and The Children's Tumor Foundation, no player was more energized, enthusiastic and generous than you.
You began the Amari Thompson Fund back in 2013 that, along with Epilepsy Toronto, has helped nearly 40,000 families deal with the often-debilitating neurological disorder. After Cavalier games – long after fans have gone home and while I was in the arena writing – I’d listen to you talk to groups of people – inspiring families, parents, kids struggling with the disease.
When it came to the media, you always treated us with respect.
I’m pretty sure you didn’t win the prestigious Austin Carr Good Guy Award – given out annually by local media members – in any of your nine years here. And the crazy part is that you could (or should) have won it in EVERY year. I hope you didn’t think we ever took your affability for granted.
You were consistently quotable – praising the squad when it was good and dogging it when it was bad – and you loved to curse with recorders rolling. (Media folks love that.) And you called us all by our first names. (We love that too.)
When you and Kyrie Irving arrived in Cleveland on that rainy morning in June back in 2011, you were basically a big kid with a self-admittedly weak chinstrap wearing a plain cardigan sweater. Before the Christmas Day game against Golden State in 2017, you wore a fur coat and shades. You’ve grown up before Cleveland’s eyes.
Thanks for letting us be a part of it. Thanks for being a great Cavalier, for representing our team and city the right way. Thanks for treating people with dignity and empathy and respect – for being a great player and a better person.
The NBA is a business, and players come and go. But good people leave their mark on an organization forever.
Thanks for the memories, T. We’ll see you back at the FieldHouse one day soon.