In what has felt like three seasons within a season, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ regular season came to a close this week. While the Canton Charge callups tried their best against the New York Knicks, the team’s 110-98 loss wrapped up the Cavs’ record to 50-32.
This Cavs’ season has been rife with drama even before the season began. But, there were still plenty of great moments, too. With the playoff tilt against the Indiana Pacers almost here, today we will take a look at the top ten moments from the Cavs’ regular season.
10. Mr. James goes to Washington
Early in the season, the Cavaliers were in our Nation’s capitol looking a little shaky at 3-5 and losing four games in a row. There were plenty of questions about the Cavs’ Eastern Conference supremacy but soon enough LeBron James erased any doubt.
James was red-hot from the opening tip and finished with an insane 57 points, along with 7 assists and 11 rebounds:
James tied the franchise record previously set by Kyrie Irving, whose Celtics were rolling while the Cavs were floundering. James made a statement that the Cavs were going to be just fine without Irving, and it gave fans an early glimpse into how his season would unfold.
Speaking of Irving, James also took to social media in a fairly cryptic way to share how he felt about his old teammate:
The post went live almost instantly after Irving led the Celtics to their ninth straight win with 35 points. The Cavs meanwhile were looking pretty bad out of the gates after blowing quite a few games to lackluster opponents.
Little did James know, though, is how quickly sharing the meme would spread. It was a near-instant hit and came to the light after the Cavs had a huge comeback against the Knicks and James quickly silenced Enes Kanter. Almost every member of the team joined in on the fun:
For whatever reason, the kid’s show Arthur became something for the Cavs to bond over and soon led to another top moment on this list. That will be coming later, though.
8. The King of the political court
While the Cavs and the Golden State Warriors have a pretty obvious rivalry, the NBA is still a fraternity. Early in the season, President Donald Trump announced that he would revoke the White House’s invitation to Steph Curry after Curry said that he had no desire to visit:
After Curry and Trump’s comments, James, one of the game’s greatest ambassador’s had to stand up for his brother:
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
James then further elaborated on his thoughts about the situation on Uninterrupted:
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) September 23, 2017
Despite the ongoing rivalry between both the Cavs and the Dubs, the NBA fraternity became clear when James went up to bat for Curry. Trump’s presidency has created a massive divide in this country and having two prolific athletes stand firm together creates unity in all of the chaos. And that can never be fake news.
7. Jurassic Jordan
Last season, it was a non-stop running joke that Kyrie Irving believed the Earth was flat. When the Cavs were in the NBA Finals, people were chomping at the bit to own “Flat World Champions” shirts.
With Irving gone, things were certainly lacking in terms of the weirdness factor. Well, fear not Cavs fans as Jordan Clarkson can fill the void. Clarkson was recently a guest on the Road Trippin’ podcast and had this to share:
Jordan Clarkson thinks dinosaurs were pets for giant humans pic.twitter.com/NmQ4fA23S4
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) March 21, 2018
Clarkson’s beliefs are certainly out there but the Cavs always need a little weirdness to keep things spicy. Jurassic Jordan has been a treat from the moment he set foot in The Land and moments like these will endear him to fans.
6. Larry Nance Jr.’s blast from the past
With the flurry of trades made at the deadline, the Cavs were able to obtain Larry Nance Jr. from the Los Angeles Lakers. Nance, who is the son of Cavs great Larry Nance, was finally able to play for his hometown team and after a few games with the team would represent them in the Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend.
With his dad in the audience, all eyes were on Nance for what tricks he would pull out to win the show. He did not disappoint when he performed this dunk:
Junior was able to recreate Senior’s dunk that won the first ever contest. Here is a comparison of the two to show how accurate Junior’s dunk was:
That was only his first dunk and he put on an even more impressive showing after that. Nance was robbed in the end and Donovan Mitchell is #NotMyDunkChampion. (I promise I am not bitter.)
5. Blowing it all up at the last minute (and still winning)
During the first half of the season, the Cavs were almost near-unwatchable at points. Isaiah Thomas was beyond frustrating, the overall body language was poor, and the toxicity in the locker room almost made the season a lost cause. But, at the very last second, general manager Koby Altman made his first major move in blowing up the entire roster. Seriously, the Cavs traded away the following players a few hours before the trade deadline:
- Isaiah Thomas
- Jae Crowder
- Dwyane Wade
- Channing Frye
- Iman Shumpert
- Derrick Rose
And brought in the following players:
- George Hill
- Rodney Hood
- Jordan Clarkson
- Larry Nance Jr.
Altman made these moves to right the ship before the entire season was sunk. He shipped out plenty of older players that did not properly fit and brought in a litany of young, athletic players that will be a major part of the team’s future. All four new players were an immediate impact in a pivotal game against the Celtics:
Altman also did all of this while not trading away the coveted Nets draft pick (which currently has the eighth-best chance at #1!) which can add another uber-talented piece in the upcoming draft.
Before the deadline, many analysts believe the Cavs were a lost cause this season and LeBron Jame was as good as gone. But, Altman made a serious power move to not only save the season but to also make it pretty hard for James to walk away from this summer.
4. Going streaking early in the season
While there were plenty of losses that will be permanently burned into fans minds, there was a lot of winning, too. The streak started in Dallas behind Kevin Love’s 29 points and 15 rebounds and went on for thirteen games until they lost to the Indiana Pacers almost a month later.
This win streak was a massive boost to the team’s spirits as they were not at 100% with Isaiah Thomas still away, and they showed some stability when many doubted them after a tumultuous start. During this win streak the “Old Cavs” were looking unstoppable:
But, all good things have to come to an end and Isaiah Thomas was the key reason why the Cavs started to fall apart. But, as mentioned before, Altman got rid of all the locker room cancer and the Cavs are a lot better off compared to where they were during the win streak.
3. The King of the North
Fun fact, did you know that the Toronto Raptors are not the most northern team? Besides the fact that they plaster it on everything, the most northern NBA team is, in fact, the Minnesota Timberwolves. While the difference is only 931.8 miles, the Raptors marketing is still misleading!
Before this season the Wolves were known as the Timberpups and after acquiring Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, they were looking to become an elite NBA team. Well, they certainly did against the Cavaliers when the teams met in Minneapolis where the Wolves led by nearly 41 at one point.
A few weeks later, it seemed like more of the same when the two teams met in Cleveland. But, LeBron James decided to will the team to victory despite Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder holding the team back. James finished with a triple-double, a huge block on Jimmy Butler, and the game winner:
LeBron James with the game winner in overtime vs the Timberwolves 🔥 pic.twitter.com/e4rbH8VkKf
— FootBasket.com (@FootBasketcom) February 8, 2018
It also gave this little gem that put Isaiah Thomas in his place:
I just realized LeBron completely ignoring Isaiah Thomas after his game winner was the last thing IT did as a Cav 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/JJLxKynDAY
— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) February 8, 2018
James has plenty of game winners under his belt after fifteen years in the Association, but his shot against the Wolves will be one of his most memorable.
2. Kevin Love becomes a leader to battle a stigma
For most young men around the world, it is generally ingrained into your DNA early on to never show your emotions. You instead are told to put on a front, to “toughen up”, and to stop acting sad or bummed out and “be a man”. Kevin Love heard that a lot during his life, too and this season he suffered a panic attack so severe that he sought out professional health.
The only reason anyone knows this is because Love bravely shared with the world via The Players’ Tribune about his battle with mental health issues. Love masterfully put to words to also help others out there who were also struggling:
Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing. No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside. Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need. So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through.
Love, along with Raptors superstar guard DeMar DeRozan have both shared their personal battles with anxiety and depression. Mental health issues is something a lot of people put to the back burner. But thanks to those two it makes it a little easier for people to share their battle when they see prominent athletes are battling as well.
1. “We will not shut up and dribble.”
As mentioned before, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James has been fairly active as a community leader in light of Donald Trump’s presidency. During an extended interview with ESPN’s Cari Champion, James discussed family, personal growth and the challenges that comes with being black and a public figure in America, as well his thoughts to when someone vandalized his home with racist graffiti.
James also discussed politics and Trump’s presidency and had this to say about the Commander in Chief:
The number one job in America, the appointed person is someone who does not understand the people.
After Jame’s interview with Champion, he drew the ire of Fox New’s pundit Laura Ingraham who had this to say:
'Shut up and dribble' — Fox News's Laura Ingraham to LeBron and Kevin Durant after their criticism of President Trump pic.twitter.com/0BlokQDIIl
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 16, 2018
In a world were some folks on Fox News love to label Democrats or leftists as “snowflakes” and poke fun at a select few’s knee-jerk reactions, Ingraham made them all look like fools.
James did not take Ingraham’s criticism lying down and quickly posted this to his Instagram account:
James was given monumental praise for his handling of both the Ingraham situation but for also taking further strides as a leader in the community. Having one of the most influential athletes in the world being able to provide a voice for the less privileged is something that should never be taken lightly.
In the end, there were plenty of outstanding moments in what has shaped up into yet another memorable Cleveland Cavaliers season. It was pretty hard to narrow down the top ten moments, but the ten above certainly stick out compared to the rest. As the Cavs get ready for the postseason, they can look back on what was a great year. Now all the team needs to do is win their second title in three seasons to send this season off with a bang.