The scalding regurgitations of the national sports media slide right off after a championship.
Over the course of the NBA playoffs (and especially the NBA Finals), I’ve spoken quite a bit about the scenario of having my hometown team win a championship with my friend Gabe. Gabe is from Seattle. And while his city’s championship drought wasn’t quite as long as Cleveland’s — the Sonics won a title shortly after he was born, but that was it — Seattle did have its own epic resume of sports meltdowns. A top-seeded Sonics losing in the first round to the Nuggets in 1994, culminating with Dikembe Mutombo crying in joy on the ground. The Mariners setting a MLB record for wins in a season, then losing in the ALCS in 2001. The trainwreck of the first Seahawks Super Bowl appearance in 2005. A fantastic Mariners team losing in the 1995 ALCS to — hey, look over there! And, of course, the Supersonics being ignobly transported to Oklahoma City in 2008.
But then, the 2013 Super Bowl happened. The Seahawks gave the Denver Broncos a wire-to-wire beatdown and delivered the first championship to Seattle in 34 years.
“After that,” Gabe said, “I was able to relax so much.” So while he was upset with the Seahawks lost in the Super Bowl one year later, it paled in comparison to how upset he would’ve been if they hadn’t won the year before.
And now, as I post this list while the first championship parade of my lifetime is happening on the streets of Cleveland, I see just how right he is.
Over the past decade or so, the national sports media has been working to catch up with the national news media. If you’re not familiar with the phrase “hot take,” it’s now the signature weapon of sports writers and (especially) ESPN TV personalities. You look at something happening in sports, find an angle that’s hyperbolic or contrarian or preferably both, and you start shouting about it — whether or not you believe it.
Inevitably, while the Cavs were still on the court accepting the trophy on Sunday night, hot takes started flowing in.
Had they lost, each one would’ve burned me up. Much as I try to avoid the national media after sad Cleveland moments, the stories still somehow find a way to get in front of me. After previous Cavs seasons, the endless speculation of whether LeBron would leave Cleveland — I mean, who would want to stay in CLEVELAND, right? — made me crazy. Even during this Cavs playoff run, all of the stories of the Western Conference Finals being the real championship, of whether the Warriors would need five games against the Cavs or just take care of it in four, of the NBA being rigged, of how terrible Cleveland is as a place and anyone from there should be ashamed to be alive — all gnawed at me.
But now that the Cavs won? Gabe was right. The stories elicit the best feeling in the world: Indifference. The city got its championship. The 52-year curse is broken. And even if this marks the start of a new 52-year curse, that’s fine. At least it’s not a 104-year one..
Below are 11 post-Finals hot takes, quotes, stories and tweets that would’ve infuriated me in the past — but now I just don’t care.
(FYI, I used the html “nofollow” code so all of the links below get no search engine benefit of being linked here. Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I want to encourage this behavior to exist.)
1 | Stephen A. Smith: Lakers and Heat are Possibilities For LeBron
A video of Smith also went viral yesterday showing video footage of him incorrectly picking the past *SIX* consecutive NBA Finals winners. He gets paid millions of dollars by ESPN. If he’d just flipped a coin six times, there’s a 98.44 percent chance he would’ve gotten at least one prediction right.
As for the idea of LeBron leaving — if he goes, he goes. He promised one title to the city, delivered it, so now maybe he’ll leave. I assure you, the city’s reaction wouldn’t be anywhere close to as angry as what it was back in 2010. At this point, if LeBron hangs around, it’s because, to quote Homer Simpson, he’s “running for Jesus.”
2 | Way-Too-Early NBA Title Bets For 2017
The Vegas futures odds came out within minutes of the conclusion of the season — and the Warriors, not the Cavs, are the favorites. (Much like they were the favorites all season, and in five of the seven Finals games.) Hey, why not? The writer goes on to name the Toronto Raptors, at 25-1, a “value bet” because “[they] gave the Cavaliers a bit of a scare.”
3 | This sports city is far more cursed than Cleveland ever was
Spoiler: He goes with Buffalo. This article would’ve crushed me in the past. Clevelanders always hate hearing about the sports pain of cities like Buffalo, San Diego, Minneapolis and D.C. It’s like: Guys, we haven’t won anything in half a century, at LEAST give us the championship of pain.
Now, it’s cool. Tortured, not tortured, whatever. All in the past. The only reality is the current one, and in that one, Cleveland’s title drought is only three days long.
4 | Consensus Vegas opinion: Warriors would be favorites over Cavs if this series rematched now!
5 | Klay Thompson says Warriors “feel like we’re still the best team in the world.”
During the series, his quotes drove Cleveland fans crazy (he called a tough screen against him “dirty,” then called out LeBron for being soft a week later). Now? I like his moxie and self-assurance. It’s good for this new, exciting rivalry.
6 | CONGRATS TO CLEVELAND – THAT WAS AWESOME
— Bill Simmons on Twitter
Actually this may’ve been genuine sentiment. I just don’t trust him.
7 | Scalabrine: “I Think the Cavs Do Trade Kevin Love.”
Brian Scalabrine — semi-famous NBA benchwarmer/ginger — is now a member of the Boston media, and thinks Love may be traded to the Celtics. (A piece of Love’s shoulder may still be in Boston after it was ripped out there in 2015, so perhaps he wants to be reunited with it?) There are going to be a lot of articles this summer about whether the Cavs should get rid of Love. As there were last summer. Everyone likes writing articles.
8 | What if I told you a Cav scored 27 ppg during the NBA Finals… made the ring-winning 3 + got 0 MVP votes? Kyrie Irving
— Rick Reilly on Twitter
A few writers tried to stir the “LeBron was MVP? Why not Irving?” pot after the Finals. This tweet is courtesy of Rick Reilly, an old guard sportswriter who made his name at Sports Illustrated but got exposed for lazy, hacky and sometimes self-plagiarizing writing once he left. It’s not a scalding hot take, but he’s still learning how to do hot takes, so be gentle.
9 | “Series that ‘shud’ have ended in 5.”
— Bill Plaschke on Twitter
Bill Plaschke is one of ESPN’s cadre of sportswriters-turned-sportsshouters, but his shouting game isn’t quite that strong, so he’s only been able to parlay his shouting into hundreds of thousands, not millions, of dollars. His tweet after the Finals read: “Things which carried GS all year — Draymond’s reckless emotion, Curry’s carefree balling — cost them in series that shud have ended in 5.”
The “should’ve won in five” thing rolls right off me. I’m having a lot more trouble forgiving the “shud.” The tweet is 139 characters. Turn “which” to “that” (which I’m pretty sure is correct anyway) or get rid of the vestigial period at the end and you’ve got room to write the whopping six-letter word “should.”
10 | NBA Owners feel [LeBron] has too much power
— Jason Whitlock on Fox Sports
As much as I’d love to get into the magic of Jason Whitlock, I’ve now spent enough time writing this list that I’m starting to feel like I’ve become the lady doth protesting too much. So I’m going to turn things over to the #1 hot taking troll in all of sports media to take us home.
11 | The Spurs would’ve beaten these Cavs
— Skip Bayless on Twitter
Posted less than 11 minutes after the end of Game 7. Never change.