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Sports Then and Now




Cleveland Cavaliers Turn the Page Following Lottery Win

Posted on May 18, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Nick Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers took a big step forward with their NBA Draft Lottery win.

Yes, it was just a year ago that the Cavaliers had the best record in the NBA and just about everyone in the city was on their collective knees begging their homegrown superstar LeBron James to stay in town.

The fallout from his decision to leave for “South Beach” and the Miami Heat was devastating and was a major reason the Cavaliers had the second worst record in the league and endured the longest losing streak in league history.

But all of that “old history” can be swept back under the rug following the improbable victory by the Cavaliers last night in the NBA Draft Lottery.

Though the 2011 NBA Lottery doesn’t seem to possess a player of the same caliber as James, just the fact that Cleveland can get a new “face” for the franchise and actually has two picks in the top four provides fans with some optimism and the feeling that they can turn the page.

Some sports franchises have taken decades to recover from losing a player of the magnitude of James (and some never recover). So for Cleveland to be given this chance to start fresh just a year later could be a huge help as they look to return to the NBA elite.

Team owner Dan Gilbert has taken a lot of heat over the last year following his remarks in the aftermath of the James decision. However, the best move he has made in a while was staying in the shadows and allowing his 14-year-old son Nick to represent the team in the lottery.

Though the representatives don’t actually have anything to do with whether the selection will go their way, it has become common for teams to roll out potential lucky charms with the hope that the ping pong balls will go their way.

Wearing a bow tie and looking like a little man, Nick Gilbert displayed a great sense of humor and charisma that instantly made him the crowd favorite.

I was watching the event on television with my seven-year old daughter who only slightly understood what was happening and she immediately said “I hope the boy wins, he’s funny.”

Though born with the rare disease Neurofibromatosis (NF), a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere in the body at any time, on this night Nick Gilbert was able to completely enjoy the moment and it turned golden when the pick Cleveland acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this year became the top pick despite having only a 2.8 percent mathematical chance.

The Cavaliers were non-committal as to whether they will select Duke point guard Kyrie Irving or Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the first pick. Either player will join a squad that still has a lot of rebuilding to do following their disappointing 2011 campaign.

Cleveland likely won’t be back to having the best record in the NBA next season, but they certainly took a step in the right direction on Tuesday night.


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