The Cleveland Cavaliers are the first team in NBA history to make a championship appearance after a player throws soup at an assistant coach.
Yes, that really happened. Plenty more commotion happened in this season for the Cavs, but they’re still headed back for their fourth consecutive NBA Finals.
Last summer, after the Cavs fell to the Golden State Warriors, Kyrie Irving demanded a trade. Prior to that, owner Dan Gilbert refused to extend GM David Griffin’s contract. So, Gilbert, with the help of executive Koby Altman, would trade Irving to Boston for Jae Crowder, an injured Isaiah Thomas and Ante Zizic as well as the (now known) No. 8 pick in the 2018 draft.
With Thomas sidelined, former MVP Derrick Rose was the starting point guard. Towards the end of November, Rose became “uncertain” if he wanted to continue his NBA career. He took a month hiatus away from basketball and away from the Cavs, getting married and leaving 36-year-old Jose Calderon to start the majority of games.
The 2017-18 season was also one plagued with injury. Tristan Thompson’s sprained ankle sidelined him for approximately two weeks. Kevin Love missed six weeks later in the season with a broken left hand.
So then, Thomas returns to the floor. What a train wreck that was. He was an absolute disaster on the floor as well as a cancer off the floor. Thomas once accused Love of not really being sick and faking a flu to miss one game.
Then, the trade deadline happened in February.
Altman flipped the entire roster by dishing away Thomas, Crowder, Rose, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye and Dwyane Wade as well. He brought in George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood.
Things went well with the new Cavaliers… then March hit. J.R. Smith threw soup at an assistant coach in the locker room and was suspended for one game. Love opened up about his mental health and a major anxiety attack that he suffered during a game in November against the Atlanta Hawks.
Even Tyronn Lue had to miss coaching nine games due to mental health, illness and exhaustion.
Yet still, the Chosen One kept that Cavaliers alive and entered the NBA Playoffs as the No. 4 seed and the No. 29 ranked defense, ahead of only the Phoenix Suns.
The Cavs battled with the young, energetic Indiana Pacers. Ultimately, Cleveland would win the first round in seven games. After a whimsical sweep of the fraudulent Toronto Raptors, the Cavs faced off with the Boston Celtics in an unexpected Eastern Conference Finals.
Somehow, someway, James and the Cavaliers knocked off the Celtics in seven games at the TD Garden without Love, who is injured yet again. With this Game 7 victory and Love in the concussion protocol, the Cavaliers are heading back to the NBA Finals yet again.
After the long list of turmoil and upheaval that took place this season, the Cavs are just four wins away from hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy again. That has to serve as some sort of motivation for this team who has fought through adversity in every form this season.
“It’s been Cedar Point,” James said about the long season. “It’s been a rollercoaster.”