June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Cavaliers making memories

Brian Dulik

The Gazette

Regardless of how the playoffs turn out, this has been the most enjoyable regular season in Cavaliers history, and for that, I am very thankful.

The best player in the world is part of the best basketball team ever to play on the North Coast, which is something that hoops junk-ies will always savor.

But one must remember that taking a step back and enjoying that fact is the key to soaking in every second of what is unfolding.

Cleveland has already clinched a playoff spot, will lock up the Central Division title this weekend, and should clinch home-court advantage in the first round sometime during its four-game homestand that begins Sunday against New York.

Obviously, those are relatively modest accomplishments for a team shooting for the NBA Finals and the world championship, but they deserve to be cherished, as well.

The journey, after all, is as important as the destina-tion. And for a title-starved area like Greater Cleveland, each accomplishment should be celebrated be-cause they don’t come around very often.

As for the Cavaliers’ cast, LeBron James is the most complete player the NBA has seen since Oscar Robertson and he might be the most athletic superstar of all-time. There will never be a better local-kid-makes-good story here — and by the way, I don’t see him leaving this team for New York, Miami or Parts Un-known anytime soon.

Lead guard Mo Williams is a perfect sidekick because he knows his role and embraces it. He plays with a ridiculous amount of confidence and has ice water in his veins when it comes to taking big shots, particularly beyond the arc, where he has been deadly.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the grizzled, lovable veteran who has been the conscious of the club for a decade. The big guy has never backed down from a confrontation on the court, but is a gentle giant off it. He is a truly special person who deserves a title more than anyone in this town.

Delonte West appears to be the heir to Z’s throne as the guy who keeps the team together by just being him-self. He enjoys making peo-ple laugh, but is quite a deep thinker when one talks with him in a quiet setting. His superb defensive skills have also made Williams’ flaws almost unnoticeable.

The rest of the Cavaliers fit together like a compli-cated jigsaw puzzle.

Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak and Joe Smith understand this is their “last best” chance at an NBA title, so their effort is always there. Their skills are declining, but each is very useful for 20 minutes a night.

Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic have gained tons of playoff experience over the last three seasons in Cleve-land and show no fear, which isn’t always a good thing. It’s much better, though, than playing scared, which they never do.

And if any of the top 10 players get hurt or slump, rookies J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson, underrated defender Tarence Kinsey and post player Lorenzen Wright have proven they can hold their own for short stretches.

Put it all together and the Cavaliers have no primadonnas, no unfairly bloated egos and no behind the scenes drama.

Opponents also have no chance of beating them in a seven-game series if four of them take place at Quicken Loans Arena.

With 12 home contests left before the playoffs be-gin, now is the time to make plans to see King James and Co. in person. If you don’t, I guarantee you will regret it for many years to come.

Contact Dulik at bris-ports@hotmail.com