Let's get the obvious out of the way, and then I'll tell you what nobody wants to admit regarding what happens in the aftermath of jinx-busting teams. Here's a hint of where I'm going: You won't have folks in northeast Ohio spray painting that 10-story poster of LeBron James in downtown Cleveland after the Golden State Warriors finish embarrassing the Cavaliers.
Last year, last year …
What happened with the Cavaliers last year?
They won it all. Courtesy of their world championship that occurred for the first time involving a major professional team around Cleveland since five years before man landed on the moon, well, trust me: The Cavs Nation will get over this Warriors thing faster than you think.
As for the obvious, the Cavaliers would love to win back-to-back NBA titles this season. They really would. They join anybody who bleeds all things Cleveland in pulling for the impossible over the next week or so, and I'll put it this way: Charles Barkley has about as much of a chance of squeezing into a pair of skinny jeans as the Warriors do of collapsing against the Cavs during the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year.
Neither will happen. In case you missed the carnage covered in wine and gold around Oakland during Games 1 and 2, this pretty gifted Cavaliers bunch was smashed by a collective 41 points. Such things happen when you're facing an opponent threatening to dribble in NBA lore for a season past the powerhouses of Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and even that Michael guy. The Warriors are an unprecedented 14-0 and counting in the playoffs, because their opponents have been overwhelmed and overmatched. To continue that "over" theme, that's the way to describe the state of these NBA Finals.
Even so, with the series moving from northern California to Cleveland, the Cavaliers should take Game 3 Wednesday night.
OK, maybe not. With the Splash Brothers, the 6-foot-9 freak of nature that is Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, who does a whole bunch of things to win games, the Warriors likely will put Cavs Nation out of its misery sooner rather than later. But here's the quiet, little secret: Dropping this NBA Finals won't matter for the Cavs in the big picture. When it comes to receiving forgiveness for not winning a title during a given season, they gave themselves a huge pass for years after June 19, 2016. That's when they completed their surge from a 3-1 deficit against the Warriors in last season's NBA Finals to grab Game 7 on the road for the first world championship in 52 years for a Cleveland team from one of the four major pro sports leagues.
Did I say that pass for the Cavs will last for years?
Try for decades.
I mean, if you're a member of Cavs Nation, so what if Stephen Curry made James look silly in Game 2 by dribbling around The Best Player On The Planet forever before making a layup? Who cares if the Warriors are so versatile that they flattened the Cavs with nearly flawless play in Game 1 due to a record-tying four turnovers and then knocked the fight out of their foes again in Game 2 courtesy of 20 turnovers? Why fret over Cleveland's coaching moves having little effect on the Warriors' dominance despite adjustments ranging from quickening the pace to switching to a smaller lineup?
The Cavaliers and their fans still have 2016. They'll always have that. Their accomplishment was something none of their predecessors for Cleveland sports teams had managed since the Browns of legendary running back Jim Brown won the NFL championship in 1964. In essence, the Cavaliers abolished every one of those "The's" haunting Cleveland, and there were a slew of them. For the Cavs, you had The Shot. For the Indians, you had The Closer (or the lack thereof, to hear Cleveland fans tell it, regarding Jose Mesa). For the Browns, you had The Drive, The Fumble and The Interception, otherwise known as Red Right 88. Just like that, the 2016 Cavaliers made those "The's" irrelevant by becoming the exorcists for the Browns, the Indians and themselves.
No wonder Cleveland threw a title party for the Cavaliers last year that featured people occupying every open inch of downtown. Many among the official crowd of 1.3 million watched from the tops of roofs, cars, anything. Others stood along the ledges of windows on skyscrapers. There wasn't a need to believe a championship was coming around Believeland anymore. Thanks to LeBron and his 2016 Cavaliers, all of that belief morphed into reality.
With the current Cavaliers and their fans needing a hug these days, those memories from last season soothe them in a hurry and for longest stretches, and that's good, but what I'm about to type … not so much. It's not bad. It's just what happens after a team conquers its version of the "The's" and remains at least somewhat efficient in the subsequent years. What happens is something less than euphoria from its fan base, especially if that team grabs another world championship close to its magical one. So even if the Cavaliers shock the Warriors and everybody else by winning these NBA Finals in either six or seven games, the Cavaliers of now would rank way behind those of last year in creating euphoria around their world.
Are you listening, Cubs fans?
I hear what you're saying. Just as those in Cavs Nation wouldn't mind more shirtless players in a parade down Euclid Avenue this summer, Wrigleyville wouldn't turn away another explosion of joy if the Cubs successfully defended their World Series championship this fall. It would be muted joy. The full-throated kind of last year was something we'll never see again, because those were the Cubs who buried that "billy goat jinx" and got Steve Bartman off the hook. Those also were the Cubs who turned "1945," as in the year of their previous National League pennant, and "1908," as in the year of their previous World Series championship, into just another set of numbers, and that purging triggered the deepest of emotions for the Cubs fan base. You know, emotions you only create once in a lifetime.
The Boston Red Sox know what I'm talking about. They ousted The Ghost of the Bambino in 2004 after 86 years, and they won the World Series again in 2007 and 2013. The latter was inspired by the Red Sox adopting the theme of "Boston Strong" after a deadly bombing during the Boston Marathon near the start of that season. Still, those 2004 Red Sox remain the all-time darlings of their massive fan base, and it started before the World Series. Despite years of losing to the Yankees in cruel ways (Bucky Dent, Aaron Boone), they overcame a 3-0 deficit during the American League Championship Series to set up their sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. All of New England lost its mind, and I'm not saying Red Sox fans weren't giddy over those world championships after that ghost-busting one. I'm also not saying followers of the Cavaliers and the Cubs wouldn't cheer like crazy if their teams two-peat this year.
I'm just saying.