The Cleveland Cavaliers planned to play a Kyrie Irving tribute video on opening night, when the point guard visited Quicken Loans Arena for the first time as an opponent. They never did. And why not?
Well, that much is up for debate.
Here’s one potential reason, per Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon:
According to team spokesman Tad Carper, multiple Cavs officials, including majority owner Dan Gilbert, chose not to show the video because “we were expecting to run it at a floating opportunity based on the right moment, and we felt that moment never presented itself.” . . .
Carper said the decision to cancel the video was not “directly” tied to the gruesome ankle injury to Celtics guard Gordon Hayward with 6:50 left in the first quarter, either.
Now, here’s another, also via Vardon:
A source with direct knowledge of Cavs’ players thinking told cleveland.com that several inside the Cleveland locker room were upset Monday upon hearing that a video was planned.
Carper said the decision to cancel the video was not made because of the players’ objections, and he said no objections had been voiced to him.
So, which version are you more inclined to believe: that the moment never presented itself, or that the Cavaliers backtracked upon realizing the tribute video upset a bunch of incumbent players?
I’m going with Option B.
Tribute videos aren’t something you improvise. You schedule them. You set aside time for them, either before tipoff or coming out of halftime or something like that. Maybe Gordon Hayward’s injury had something to do with not showing the tribute. The mood throughout the game was very dour after that, and honoring Irving would have pulled the focus away from Hayward’s absence. But that only tracks of they were planning to run it before or out of halftime. It feels a little more likely that the Cavaliers didn’t want to ruffle the feathers of people, namely LeBron James, who still play for them.
Then again, maybe the tribute video was kind of aimed at LeBron, as this form of evidence that the organization has changed and won’t go all Comic Sans when a player decides he wants to leave. And then, maybe, that approach backfired. Or perhaps they just came to their senses, realizing that opening night was too soon, the wounds from Irving’s departure still too fresh among the fanbase and locker room and the point guard himself.
Yes, this game is the only (regular season) one the Celtics will play in Cleveland. But the Cavaliers can always fire up the tribute video next season, when the situation has received more time to marinate. Running it on opening night was always something of a premature thought process. Now they can wait for a more appropriate time.