On Friday afternoon a text from my older cousin Ryan, addressed to my brother Conor and me, flashed up on my screen. Ryan lives in New Jersey and is as devout of a Cleveland sports fan you will find, living in town or otherwise. Conor and I live in Cleveland and this text chain has provided a great way for all three of us to celebrate very historic and happy sporting moments with the Cavs and Indians while also allowing us to relieve ongoing frustration and depression from the frequent, troublesome Browns moves both on and off the field.
His text read, “Cavs implosion begins. Wake me up in 6 years. I fully blame Gilbert. But LeBron has a massive hand in this mess. Could have signed a lifetime contract with Cavs and been flexible to add stars forever. Now, this mess.” I didn’t know what he was referring to after I completed reading it. I immediately went to Espn on my phone and read the headline “Kyrie Irving demands to be traded from the Cavs.” The all too familiar feeling of disappointment in the realm of hometown sports fandom settled in. Any Cleveland fan born between the years 0f 1976 and 2016 knows this gut wrenching sensation that stings you at first, slowly subsides and then leaves you in a state of mild and dreary discombobulation. It’s akin to getting dumped in the form of a text message.
“Really?…Really?” I continued thinking to myself. At first I couldn’t register the soul-crushing news that Kyrie, one of the most talented, young and rising stars in the game wanted to part ways from an Eastern Conference powerfully perennial team that features arguably one of the two-best players ever, that made it to three consecutive NBA finals. Kyrie’s heroics in the closing seconds of the ’16 NBA Finals against the vaunted Warriors dubbed such a gusty play the “Biggest Shot in the History of the NBA.” This stroke of genius, inspiration whatever you want to call by Irving ended the Cleveland curse and provided unparalleled, euphoric happiness, celebration and joy for Cavs fans everywhere. It was a moment unlike any other and for some that celebration will never “officially” end.
The older I get the more cynical I’ve become with sports. One of my favorite movies expresses this idea so effectively. In the Bronx Tale, the infamous neighborhood gangster/antagonist “Sonny” chats with an adolescent boy “Colagelo, (C)” about C’s affection for the New York Yankees and their star player, Mickey Mantle. Out of frustration Sonny poses a very poignant question to C, “Why do you like the Yankees so much kid? Mickey Mantle don’t pay your rent.” This oversimplifies the fact that athletes back then and still today make a ton of money. At times I definitely become hostage to this same Italian machismo, and indifferent mind frame to aspects of American culture, Hollywood influentially uses to portray such high profile Mobsters. I often question myself and overall my substance as a person for being so drawn in to a team I love so dearly in the Cavaliers.
I should have seen this coming, but I didn’t. I definitely am disappointed in Kyrie, but just as my bitterness faded with LeBron in 2010 it hopefully will follow suit with the premature exodus of this phenom. The complete joy that I experienced the night Kyrie hit that three over Curry was unspeakable. Kyrie Irving will be intrinsically linked to the biggest moment in a lot of Clevelanders lives and needless to say, the happiest night of my life. And for that Kyrie, I am very thankful.