Playing the “What if?” game

 

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Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Cavs went out and lost their first two games of the season. The excuses started flying:

Seriously? Delonte West?

Anyway, this isn’t to debate which excuse has the most merit in this disappointing start. They all sound a lot better than Danny Ferry just shrugging his shoulders and saying, “Ummmmmmmmm, ooops!” But in the end they remain excuses. On the heels of disastrous Indians and Browns seasons, an excuse-filled Cavs season won’t make it in this town.

But just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, there’s always someone to tap you on the shoulder, smile, and remind you that you live in Cleveland. (And show you highlights of freaking Cliff Lee catching a freaking ground ball behind his freaking back in a freaking complete-game World Series victory over THE FREAKING YANKEES.) So consider, if things really are as bad as they could get for the Cavs.

Or what if …

  • What if on Friday night on the road against a young, hungry, up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves team the Cavs again come out sluggish, can’t recover, and lose their third straight? What if 24-year-old center Al Jefferson, a 20-plus-point-per-game scorer for the T’Wolves the last two seasons, schools old Shaq and old Z as panic mode over the Cavs interior defense sets in? What if the loss brings down boos during the first half of Saturday’s home game against the awful Charlotte Bobcats, as the Cavs look sluggish in the first half and take just a three-point lead into halftime? (Remember, the Bobcats set a record for the shot-clock era by scoring just 59 points in their opening game.)
  • What if the losing creates a backlash against the casino issue which Dan Gilbert is championing, and which is up for vote as Issue 3 on the Ohio ballot next Tuesday? What if many people decide Gilbert isn’t actually a great businessman but just another guy with a succesful business who was smart enough to buy a team with LeBron James? What if the casino issue fails on the same night the Cavs lose another home game to the Wizards, who gave the Cavs fits during a 66-win season last year even though Gilbert Arenas wasn’t even playing?
  • What if this awful start sends the Cavs fans out into the streets with torches and pitchforks and the Cavs front office into full-fledge panic mode? What if the Cavs decide they need something and fast and get serious about pursuing Golden State’s Stephen Jackson, who wants out Oakland so bad he’d walk to Cleveland to play with LeBron James? What if the Cavs pull the plug on Zydrunas Ilgauskas and send their longest-tenured player and the franchise leader in rebounds and blocked shots and very nearly games played (just 14 behind Danny Ferry) to Golden State in the deal, turning a possible feel-good story into one of cutthroat basketball business? What if Stephen Jackson comes to Cleveland, meshes well with LeBron James and leads the Cavs to 10 straight wins, then in six weeks is arrested for starting a fight at Christie’s Cabaret in the Flats and is suspended by the league?
  • What if the Cavs float to a 47-win season and finish behind the Pistons and Bulls in the Central Division? What if the Cavs finish sixth in the Eastern Conference and match up with Orlando in the FIRST round of the playoffs this time? What if the Magic need only five games to dispense of the Cavs in the playoff rematch?
  • What if LeBron says the hell with this and goes to New York City to join the Nets?
  • What if Dan Gilbert, who has no casino just yards away from his Quicken Loans downtown office and shiny arena, sells off the rest of his suddenly devalued basketball team to the Chinese? What if the Chinese sign Yao Ming, coming off a missed season because of a foot injury? What if Yao breaks down five games into the season? What if the Chinese owners’ new team plays to 5,000 people a night due to backlash over LeBron leaving town? What if the Chinese owners decide to gut the team for the 2011-2012 season? What if the Chinese owners prepare to move the team to Seattle to replace the Sonics as the city welcomes them with the promise of an even shinier, newer downtown arena?
  • What if a giant LeBron-in-a-Nets-jersey Fathead sticker falls off the wall of a 12-year-old girl’s Queens bedroom and nearly smothers her? What if her parents sue Fathead for an adhesive deficiency and wins a $45 million lawsuit against Dan Gilbert’s company? What if Gilbert decides he’s done in Cleveland, sells Fathead for pennies on the dollar, closes up the Cleveland office of Quicken Loans and retreats to Detroit? What if unemployment climbs .8% in Cleveland?
  • What if Quicken Loans Arena, now devoid of a pro basketball team, becomes the de facto home for job fairs, psychic conferences, and flea markets? What if upkeep falls behind because these events, coupled with a week of Trans-Siberian Orchestra shows every December, can’t cover overhead costs? What if The Q falls into disrepair, and major concerts like Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, and KISS don’t come to Cleveland anymore?
  • What if, after all this happens, LeBron leads the Nets to the 2012 NBA Finals? What if CC Sabathia shows up at the game, sits courtside, and wears a Yankees cap? What if Cliff Lee is also there and is saluted after leading the Phillies to their third straight World Series title? What if new Yankees centerfielder Grady Sizemore makes a late entrance, slaps five with Lebron, and discusses “the good old days” before sitting down next to Sabathia and Lee?
  • What if everyone reading this gouges their eyes out with a pair of scissors after contemplating the disastrous future that even the Mayans wouldn’t have envisioned for us? What if the 5,000 years ago the Mayans foresaw this future but thought it was so horrible they didn’t even publicize it?

And to think, all this could happen if the Cavs lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. We could all try praying to God none of this happens, but, gee, it appears God wants it to.

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