Darius Garland of the Cavaliers says the time is right for Cleveland’s All-Star Showcase.
When the city of Cleveland, supported by its Cavaliers, was granted the 2022 NBA All-Star game in November 2018, several people scratched their heads. Cleveland was a growing and energetic city, but after four straight Finals appearances, its NBA prospects remained gloomy. After LeBron James left for Los Angeles, the Cavaliers were forced to build their team around Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and the often injured Kevin Love. After a 0-6 start, the Cavs dismissed coach Tyronn Lue only three days before the announcement. Cleveland may have been deserving, but it did not seem like the league wanted to highlight the Cavs.
But here we are, 40 months later, and the Cavaliers have proven to be the perfect hosts for this year’s game, providing an eye-opening contrast to an age dominated by superteams and top players edging out of lucrative contracts to pursue simpler, gentler pathways. If you’re weary of James Harden, Ben Simmons, and Anthony Davis’ shenanigans, try Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen.
The Cavaliers are presently 35-23, with Vegas oddsmakers predicting a victory total of 26.5 in the preseason. They are undoubtedly the greatest surprise team in the East, and possibly the whole NBA, since they are tied for third place in the conference and are just 2.5 games away from first place (Memphis has an argument there).
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Cleveland, Garland predicted, will get its act together in the NBA. He didn’t anticipate anything to happen before the weekend, however.
“Everything comes full circle,” he said. “I wasn’t surprised, but it was supercool that it came back around so quickly and gained some local popularity.”
And it’s not just that the Cavs were able to swiftly regain relevance; it’s how they accomplished it—with that rarest of NBA commodities, homegrown talent. On the Cavaliers’ 15-man roster, nine players have never played for another NBA team.
“I believe all of our men like Cleveland; it’s the only location we’ve ever been,” Garland added. “They like how the city is behind us, how they genuinely support and cheer us on.” And they’re back in the arena, which is fantastic; it happens virtually every night.”
‘It’s Wonderful To See Everyone Be Happy.’
Garland is in a unique situation this weekend as the home team’s starting quarterback. He’s just in his third season, but he’s already averaging 20.3 points and 8.0 assists while hitting 47.7% of his shots, which is a career best. He’ll be joined by Allen, who was called up as an injury replacement for James Harden.
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Garland’s personal growth has been essential to the Cavaliers’ collective growth. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his staff encouraged him to become a more willing shooter and take on a larger leadership role, even at the conclusion of last season. That was something he kept in mind during the offseason, and it gave him a lift when he joined Team USA in July.
“My self-assurance has skyrocketed,” he remarked. “With the USA Select squad and simply more work this summer, I realised I had to do more to have a greater impact with this team and push us to the next level.” So my coaches and trainers, as well as myself, pushed me to go the next step.”
Garland, on the other hand, can relax this weekend and concentrate on displaying his hometown. He’ll be making appearances all around town, including at “The Block,” a Mountain Dew and Ruffles-hosted interactive fan experience. Former and current Cavaliers including as Collin Sexton, Tacko Fall, and Richard Jefferson will be in attendance.
“So far, the weekend has been fantastic,” Garland added. “There have been a lot of individuals who have shown a lot of love so far, and it’s been amazing to see all the fans and all the events that have been going on.” It’s great to see everyone smile and be in a nice attitude.”
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After a year in which just a trimmed-down version of the NBA All-Star weekend was held in Atlanta in 2021, this year’s event was guaranteed to be more exciting. However, the fact that it is taking place in Cleveland, which has seen the league’s largest basketball rebirth, has added to the excitement on the shores of Lake Erie.
“There are a lot of things, but the vibe in the city right now is electrifying,” Mountain Dew brand marketing director Matt Nielsten said. “Right now, I can hear people going wild.” People are enthusiastic, and the All-Star game is the one time of year when everyone can come together, regardless of whose team they support—a it’s great celebration and a lot of fun. That, I believe, is manifesting itself in all of the current events in the city.”
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