by Ryan Isley
Cleveland fans – I didn’t want to do it.
You have to believe me on this one. I really didn’t want to write a negative piece about the fans in Cleveland after last week’s column on Indians Opening Day drew such response. Unfortunately, you left me no choice. At least this time, it isn’t about fans not going to games, arriving at games late or leaving games early.
It’s about rooting against your team.
In the past couple of weeks, Cavaliers fans have reverted back to my biggest pet peeve from last season – rooting for the Cavaliers to lose for draft position. I will never understand the logic behind fans openly rooting for their team to lose – especially in a league in which the team with the worst record is guaranteed nothing in the draft other than a top-4 pick.
This is not the NFL – the worst team does not automatically get the top overall pick in the upcoming draft. Rooting for your team to lose is never in good taste, but even less so when losing guarantees NOTHING.
At the end of play on Tuesday night, the Cavaliers owned the 7th-worst record in the NBA and are tied with the 4th-fewest wins in the league, meaning that a losing streak could put them in as one of the worst five teams in the league. But there is no need to root for that to happen.
In the 27-year history of the NBA Draft Lottery, the team with the worst record in the NBA has been awarded the top overall pick just four times (with one of those being the 2003 Cavaliers, who were tied for the worst record). In the last seven seasons, teams who have won the lottery have ranged from 3rd-worst record to 9th-worst record, with six of the past seven winners of the lottery being 5th-worst or worse.
Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers
Obviously, the Clippers pick in 2011 was included in their deal to the Cavaliers and turned into Kyrie Irving, while the Cavaliers had the 2nd-worst record in the league and their pick ended up being the 4th overall selection. Sometimes I think fans forget this fact.
The last time that two of the three worst teams in the NBA ended up with picks inside the top-3 was in 2008, when the Bulls won the lottery with the 9th-worst record but the Miami Heat won the 2nd pick with the worst record and the Minnesota Timberwolves earned the 3rd pick with the 3rd-worst record. The Seattle Supersonics, who had the 2nd-worst record, got the 4th pick. In the last three years, teams with the worst three records received just three picks inside the top-3, while teams with the 6th-worst through 8th-worst received four picks inside the top-3.
Yet, Cavaliers fans are still out in full steam rooting for the team in wine and gold to end up losing.
Unfortunately this is not just a current problem. There were some fans rooting for this way back when the season started and it began to gain steam once the Cavaliers were 11-17. After a two-game win streak where Irving showed that he can come up huge in the clutch, the talk had quieted down but then ramped back up pretty quickly with the Cavaliers at 13-23.
The Cavaliers were embarrassed just a couple of weeks ago by losing back-to-back home games by 35 or more points but instead of being upset, some fans were actually happy. And then the other night with the Cavaliers in New Jersey to play the Nets, the Cavaliers were competitive, yet fans were taking to Twitter to scream for their team to choke down the stretch.
Cleveland fans are now rooting for the Cavaliers to lose in the same way they root for the Pittsburgh Steelers or New York Yankees to lose in the playoffs. It’s sickening.
Only in Cleveland do fans know what “APPBITH” means. And only in Cleveland do fans root for their team to lose while fans of teams in other cities are rooting for their team to win a championship. Any question as to why people criticize the fans of Cleveland?