Cavs begin title defense vs. Knicks
The city of Cleveland has waited 52 years to celebrate a championship, yet on the night the Cavaliers will receive their rings and the banner is raised to the rafters, somehow this team has become a bit of an afterthought within its own hard-luck city.
The Cleveland Indians opening Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs across the street from the Cavs opener against the New York Knicks has added an extra element of electricity within a fan base that has little experience celebrating champions. But they're quickly getting the hang of it.
LeBron James and the Cavs have waited all summer for the jewelry that accompanies being the first team in history to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA championship. The fact they'll get their rings on the same night James' good friend Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are in town makes the evening even more fascinating.
The Knicks, after all, greatly aided the Cavs' title by giving them J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in a midseason trade two seasons ago.
"It's just a special night, it's something that no one can ever take away from you no matter how many missed shots, no matter how many turnovers, no matter how many games that you've lost, they can never take that moment away from you," James said. "I'm happy not only for every guy here, but our fans and the organization. It's something that's going to live in the archives forever."
James and the Cavs also faced the Knicks on an equally emotional night two years ago when James made his grand return to Cleveland. The emotion of the night seemed to overwhelm the Cavs, who lost to an inferior Knicks team.
James, however, is 2-0 on previous ring nights with the Miami Heat.
"It's difficult because you just reflect on last year when you should be worrying about this year, but it's human nature," James said. "We're not there celebrating this year, we're there celebrating our accomplishment from last year.
"Our fans have the right to celebrate that, we have the right to celebrate that and it's unfortunate that we also at the same time now got to get back to a new season, but that's what the job is and we have to do that. It should never take away from the night itself."
New York, conversely, is hopeful it can make a postseason push in the East with the debut of its new-look roster.
New guard Derrick Rose participated in just three practices since he was cleared of sexual assault charges last week. Rose missed more than two weeks due to the trial, including the final five preseason games. He hasn't played in a game since Oct. 4, but coach Jeff Hornacek doesn't believe Rose will be on any minute restrictions.
Anthony missed the playoffs the last three years in New York and now must stand and watch again Tuesday while James, one of his closest friends in the league, collects his third ring. Anthony is still searching for his first, although budding star Kristaps Porzingis, Rose and new center Joakim Noah should at least inch the Knicks back into the postseason.
"I believe in this group of guys," Anthony told Newsday. "I believe in this team. I think we'll have a special year."