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By BRIAN A. LESTER
HOOPS COLUMNIST


If you have been craving humor lately because Iraq's comical information guru has faded away like a childhood memory, then check out the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With their miserable season over, the word out of Cleveland is that the Cavs are talking about hope, greatness and glory being on the agenda for the future.

They seem to believe that despite winning 17 games, the possibility of a new era is right around the corner.

Translation: Lebron James is going to save our sorry excuse for a franchise.

Oh, it's nice to think wishfully, but now, because they couldn't lose 66 games instead of 65, they will have just as much of a chance of getting James as their partners in losing, the Denver Chicken Nuggets.

Still, to think that James is the missing piece of the Cavs' puzzle for success is straight up foolish.

Yes, James is perhaps the greatest basketball player who ever lived and he probably will become a great NBA player, but the Cavs seem to forget that competition in the league is much tougher than what prep hoops has to offer.

There are no Shaquille O'Neal's or Kobe Bryant's in high school basketball. There are no Tracy McGrady's or Peja Stojakovic's either.

The league is full of great players, and whether the Cavs choose to step back into the real world for a moment or not, they should realize that James isn't going to have the kind of impact that will turn Cleveland into a contender right away.

There are going to be nights when James looks average, nights when he is unable to create the kind of magic that made him take ownership of the spotlight in gyms across America.

Honestly, what the Cavs need if they want a quick fix to their problems is a couple of veteran free agents that can at least give Cleveland hopes for a postseason trip in 2004.

You know, the type of players who can provide leadership and consistent production night in and night out.

James just isn't their man for that job, at least not in the present day.

And even when he does finally adjust to life as a pro and find his groove, his three years in miseryville will be up and he can run off and sign with a real basketball team.

Then again, the Cavs might not even get James, which would crush Cleveland fans the way Michael Jordan used to crush them back in the day.

The bottom line here is the Cavs always talk about new eras before the start of every season, and by the end of each won, they are no better off than they were before.

And even if James does end up in a Cavs uniform ---- my guess is that he wont' --- I wouldn't count on the hoped-for new era taking place anytime soon. Just call it a hunch I have.

Brian Lester is a sports writer in Ohio and can be reached via email at [email protected].
 

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While I doubt that the Cavs will seriously contend for anything next year I do see reason for optimism whether the Cavs get Lebron or not. Of course it would be nice to get the best player in the draft but frankly I think that most Cavs fans would be happy with any of the top 3. Z has been healthy for over a year now. Davis appears to be coming into his own. Boozer was a big surprise from last year. The real issue with this team is the point guard position and if they get a solid solution for that I see them at least doubling their wins from this year. While that isn't contending that is a new era.
 

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Nice Article Lester, thanks for dropping by.

I agree that no high school player is going to come in and immediately take command. None have done it in the past, anyway.

One approach, however, would be for the Cavs to trade off a couple of their other young players for more experienced vets if they end up with LeBron. Someone will give up something decent for Miles or Davis or Wagner. If they couple that with a MLE signing of a decent vet, that'd go a long way towards building the "support" that James would need to shine.

At the very least, it would avoid feeding him to the wolves like the Cavs did this summer.
 
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