By Jeff Gallatin
Shortly after the Cleveland Cavaliers renew their defense of their NBA title by hosting the New York Knicks in their first game after the NBA All Star game, noted area journalist and author Terry Pluto will be discussing the team and his latest book March 1 at the Bay Village branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, 502 Cahoon Road.
Pluto’s book, “The Comeback: Lebron, the Cavs & Cleveland,” is the latest published by Gray & Company, which specializes in Cleveland-area books. It details how the team was put together for a title run after Lebron James returned to Cleveland several years ago.
Pluto noted Lebron came back to Cleveland believing the ingredients would be mixed together for a championship run.
“Lebron doesn’t get into these things to lose,” Pluto said. “He came back believing they would be able to win a championship.”
Pluto’s book goes into the background of how Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert and the management team set out putting together the team which would first play the Golden State Warriors for the NBA championship. It also details Gilbert and James reconciling after the acrimony which took place after James left for the Miami Heat, where the team won two NBA titles and played for two others.
Referring to the injuries which have sidelined all-star power forward Kevin Love and key starter J.R. Smith for extended periods of time, as well as other injuries and James calling on management to add additional players (be it a backup point guard or Lebron’s longtime friend Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks), Pluto said they blend in with elements which seem to make the team succeed.
“This team has turmoil and chaos and it expects to overcome them and win,” he said. “Other teams don’t do it that way, but this team expects to win.”
Pluto noted it was like when the team battled its way to the NBA finals two years ago despite the loss of Love and all-star guard Kyrie Irving.
“Lebron is so competitive and has such a will to win that people looked at it as a case of Lebron taking four ordinary guys with him and going for that championship,” Pluto said. “You can see it with the coaches on the teams he’s been to the championship with.
You’ve got (Heat coach) Eric Spoelstra, David Blatt and Tyronn Lue. Unless Lue becomes the next NBA supercoach, you don’t have hall of famers there. Yet, Lebron’s teams continue to succeed this way.”
Pluto contrasted the Cavaliers buildup with other recent championship teams.
“The Warriors have been put together over a period of years. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have played together for several years and they brought in Draymond Green. Even bringing in Kevin Durant that way was a part of their process, which is deliberate and steady. San Antonio has done team-building that way for years. The Cavs are more like a microwave, doing it quickly at a high temperature.”
Pluto said despite the injuries and other issues, the Cavaliers are very capable of defending their title.
“You certainly would think so,” he said. “Love and Smith are supposed to be back for the playoff run. And they could still do more. Plus, you’ve got that Lebron factor of his will to win and justifiably believing that he is fully capable of carrying a team.”
Pluto said he would expect a lot of discussion at the Bay Village event, which starts at 7 p.m. As always, the event is free. Pluto said he will talk for awhile, then answer questions and sign books.
“Our library sessions are usually pretty well-attended and lively,” he said. “People seem to enjoy them a lot.”