by Michael Leonard, Sports Editor;
Every so often, the journalist and the fan inside me find themselves at odds.
After the Cavaliers were eliminated from the NBA Finals June 14, I found myself at one of those times.
Here's a brief transcript of that internal monologue:
Journalist Michael: Attempting to drown your sorrows, I see?
Fan Mike: Killian's Irish Red and "Wait until next year." Why do these seem to be my only comforts?
JM: Well, they shouldn't be. Any objective person could see two things in this series. One, San Antonio looked like a veteran, Finals-tested squad playing a team that was young and new to the finals.
FM: What's No. 2?
JM: That Cleveland is young, will learn from this experience and should be back soon. LeBron James is still 22. Outside of Zydrunas Ilguaskas, the Cavs' core players are younger than we are.
FM: Yeah, I was so looking for LeBron to give us a ring for our 30th birthday.
JM: Well, barring a catastrophe, we won't have to wait until we're 60 to see the Cavaliers get back to the Finals. The Eastern Conference is still bereft of dynasties. Maybe the Cavs are on the brink of filling the void.
FM: With this roster? And that coach?
JM: I know, the Cavaliers need a true point guard. I don't know if Daniel Gibson's the answer. They also have to find some creative ways to release a couple contracts. But what's your problem with Mike Brown?
FM: How about the fact that he's so concentrated on defense that offense gets neglected. The Cavs averaged just 80.5 points per game and set a Finals record for fewest points scored. With a talent like LeBron James, that's unacceptable!
JM: Mike Brown was responsible for about 10 percent of that scoring futility. I give another 20 percent to Cavs players for poor shooting and the remaining 70 percent directly to the Spurs' defense.
FM: I think you're giving him way too much credit.
JM: Here's a couple facts. In his second year as head coach, Mike Brown has the Cavaliers playing in June. How many June games had this franchise played before him?
FM: The same number of titles this city's had since 1964?
JM: Exactly. He's got back-to-back 50-win seasons in his first two years as coach. Not even Lenny Wilkens did that, so he must be doing something right.
FM: Yeah, but with LeBron in the lineup, the Cavs could have Dave Close or Everett Heard as their head coach and still win 50.
JM: Uh, wrong. Check with Paul Silas before you go there.
JM: I know Brown has some holes he needs to fill in his coaching game, but remember, he's only 37. Thus, he's one of the youngest coaches in the NBA and he'll learn at the same pace as his team does. And by the way, the coach who just schooled him was his old mentor.
FM: You're going with the "Greg Popovich taught Brown everything Brown knows, but not everything he knows" theory?
JM: There was ample evidence of it in the Finals.
FM: Yeah, I know. The problem with you is you're way too logical. Every Cleveland fan knows ...
JM: Please don't start. Don't start becoming Mike Trivisonno and start calling this "The Sweep" and equating it with "The Drive" and "The Fumble." Don't start thinking that LeBron will have both his legs broken and it will be 30 years until the Cavs are back in the Finals. I hate that attitude and in this instance, it's overly pessimistic and flat-out wrong.
FM: OK, I'll be nice. But man, I wanted this one. I wanted to have that moment where every fan from Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and especially New York hears the name "Cleveland" and can do nothing but sit down and shut up.
JM: I know. It's tough being a fan in this town sometimes. So just close your eyes and remember the Indians are in first place.
FM: I will ... right after I finish this Killian's.