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Cavs' fan has hope his team will jell



Published: Wed, November 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



What's happening with the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Posing this question to myself, I picked up the telephone and knew exactly who to call.

Shane is a die-hard Cavaliers fanatic, someone who will go to great lengths to cheer his team.

He's got desire. He's filled with emotion. He remains loyal to a team that finds itself struggling to survive in the NBA.

Fan reaction: When Michael Jordan first retired, Shane drove to Richfield Coliseum, breathed in the night-time air and ran around the building whooping and hollering like a kid. Finally, he thought, nothing stands between my team and an NBA title.

When former Cavs point guard Mark Price held a press conference, Shane talked his way into the event and found himself among a group of reporters. Shane asked Price two questions.

When Lee Fisher, former attorney general of Ohio, was bothered that Shane remained standing during a Cavs game, it was Shane who turned around and yelled, "If you want to see the game, stand up!"

If you've ever attended a Cavaliers game and witnessed a crazed fan running up and down the isles trying to unite the crowd, that's Shane.

If you've heard a fan on Cleveland sports radio talking Cavaliers basketball, claiming he bleeds orange and blue and singing to the host, that's Shane.

You can imagine how Shane must feel these dark and dreary days of Cavaliers basketball. Still, he hasn't lost hope.

Reason for hope: Guard Andre Miller, averaging 20 points and eight assists per game, is the best the Cavs have right now.

"He has to realize that he needs to put the ball in the hole," Shane said. "He has to take on a Stephon Marbury role. He has to shine. If [Miller] doesn't score, we'll be looking for someone in the stands to score."

Shane likes the athletic ability and potential of Jumaine Jones and Ricky Davis, and he hasn't given up on Trajan Langdon.

"But the Cavs need players who can play and win now," Shane said.

Much of the Cavs' success, Shane said, has hinged on the health of center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who's had numerous foot injuries. That's why Shane questioned the team's drafting of DeSagana Diop, who -- ironically -- has had foot injuries.

"But I hear Michael Doleac is into orthopedics," Shane said. "So if he doesn't pan out [on the court], he seems to know feet. Maybe he could help us out with that."

In their prime: Some of the best memories the Cavaliers provided in recent history began in the 1986-88 seasons when Brad Daugherty, Ron Harper, Larry Nance, John "Hot Rod" Williams and Price joined the team, and Lenny Wilkens was hired as coach.

The Cavs won 57 games in the 1988-89 and '91-92 seasons and 54 in '92-93. Their nemesis, however, was Chicago and Michael Jordan, whose series-clinching shots eliminated Cleveland twice and broke fans' hearts.

Shane was driving his car in Shelby when he pulled over to hear Joe Tait's voice in the final seconds. When Craig Ehlo scored to put the Cavs ahead in 1989, Shane pounded the wheel and honked the horn. But Jordan had the final say.

"Those years were something special," Shane said. "It's almost as if [fans] forget about those years. I just want to get on the roof tops and say, 'Wait a minute! This team was close to going all the way.' "

Although the Cavs finished over .500 from 1993-97, their run for the NBA title had been weakened by their stars' injuries and old age. A new wave of players came to Cleveland, which was hit by hard times, including 32-50 and 30-52 records the past two seasons and unsteady fan support.

Fans like Shane, however, give me reason to believe.

"I still bleed orange and blue," Shane said, "and the way they've been playing, I bleed quite a bit."

XBrian Richesson is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write him at richesson@vindy.com.




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