In the Cavaliers first match up against LeBron James and the Big Three of the Miami Heat, the encounter on the floor was strictly a three star studded one, at least on the opposition's side. But the real battle was between James and the Cavalier Fans; as expected. The ambiance of the Quicken Loans Arena was more like that of a war zone rather than an NBA game, with plastic beer cups and hateful chants of decadent mockery towards a city's one time "chosen one." Yet somehow, James and the Heat endured. But this time around, hopefully, the battle of the best player in the NBA versus the fans he once called friends will not be so lethally destructive.
Much was on the line in that game back on December 2nd, not in the form of a playoff spot, but with a cities respect for its one time superstar figure. Nobody had to say it, but perhaps the King himself said it best on his Nike commercial to "clear the decks and start over." It was a turning point, not just for LeBron and his fans respect, or lack thereof for him, but in both team's seasons. Looking back, it is difficult to fathom the fact that the Cavaliers were a mediocre 7-10 at the time, and the Heat were the ones struggling to cope with the transformations to come.
They are now on opposite ends. Miami has excelled ever since their demolishing of the Cavs at 41-14. James tallied up 38 points in the competition, 24 of which came in the third quarter. He persisted that it was nothing personal, but the jumbo-tron at the Q would supports other theories.
It has been nearly nine months since "The Decision" and three months since the most hated team in the NBA stepped onto the Quicken Loans hardwood. The Cavaliers are looking for a different outcome both in team performance, and from their fans. Their focus now is solely on one thing: beating the Miami Heat. That's what it should have been in their last meeting, rather than exchanging hugs with one time friend, and current foe.
This time, the Cavs will go it without Anderson Varejao and Antawn Jamison. Forward Samardo Samuels is also slated to miss tonight's game with a sprained right wrist. Unfortunately, the Cavs caught the Heat at full strength, now tied with the Boston Celtics for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
LeBron may have taunted the Cavs bench in the December 2nd collision, but, according to him "I have the utmost respect for this franchise, the utmost respect for these fans." Optimistically speaking, Cavs fans will realize this, and support their current team, rather than jeer a huge part of their old one.