Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Time to bury the hatchet

Wednesday night, the Cavaliers will honor Brad Daugherty. And, no surprise, he won't be there.

Of course, no one is expecting Daugherty to be floored by the fact that the Cavs will be passing out bobbleheads bearing his likeness. Not in a league where the Pistons once held a Zeljko Rebraca bobblehead promotion.

But this isn't the first time he's turned his back on the team's attempts to honor him.

The reason stays the same: "scheduling conflict."

It's a convenient way of saying "bite me" without actually saying it.

For far too long now, there has been a thick layer of ice between Daugherty and the only NBA city he ever called home. Now a seasoned color commentator, he has shown no desire to ever work Cavs games, even as Mark Price, with no formal training, tried his hand at it for a season.

In the past seven-plus years, he has never made appearances at Cavs games. More than that, he has never made anything that even resembled a public appearance in association with the team.

In short, it appears that Daugherty wants nothing to do with his former team.

It all stems from the 1999 move by then-owner Gordon Gund to phase out Wayne Embry as the team's general manager and bring in Jim Paxson. Daugherty is good friends with Embry and apparently did not like the way the team handled the move.

So he decided to shun the team. And continues to do so.

It would make more sense if the Cavs drew their own line in the sand and refused to honor Daugherty. It would make more sense if Gund still had controlling interest in the team.

It would make more sense if there was an ongoing war of words between Daugherty and the team. But there is nothing of the sort.

Instead, the only thing we hear is a long, cold, inexplicable silence. This is more of a cold war than the U.S. and Soviet Union could ever have hoped to wage.

The fans, the ones who remember Daugherty fondly, are the only ones who really lose out.

His absence wouldn't be as much of a travesty if Daugherty was just another Joe-Blow-Eric-Snow player. But he is a significant figure in the history of the franchise. And, lost in the shuffle of other, more front-and-center Cavs alumni like Austin Carr, Jim Chones and Campy Russell, we are forgetting about him.

Daugherty is still the Cavs' all-time leading scorer, rebounder and has converted the most free throws in team history.

He was the centerpiece player of what is still the most successful run in franchise history, with three 50-win seasons and three playoff series wins from 1989 to 1993.

With averages of 19 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, he is still the best center in Cavs' history, and figures to hold that title for a long time unless Zydrunas Ilgauskas suddenly steps it up or Greg Oden somehow falls into the Cavs' laps next summer.

And yet, he stays away, perfectly willing to let his Cleveland legacy collect dust in the attic. And all because of what?

Embry has moved on. Gund has sold the team. Paxson has been fired. The arena has been re-named. The team colors have even been changed.

The Cavs of 2006 are far different than the Cavs of 1999. It's time for Daugherty to realize that, and even if he still harbors a grudge, to realize for whom he's really appearing.

The fans want you back, Brad. No matter how you feel about the Cavs organization, come back for them. Help them reminisce about those days at the Coliseum that they -- and you -- can never have back.

5 comments:

Andy said...

That really is a shame. That's the Cavaliers team I grew up loving: Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, Larry Nance, Hot Rod Williams, Brad Daugherty. It's too bad he harbors a grudge. Maybe he really just doesn't have time. Whatever. I'll take an extra bobblehead if your get your hands on one.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't part of the reason he's pissed is that the Cavs would never say how hurt he actually was.

He got hurt right before the Cavs moved to Gund Arena, hired the Czar and got the new (ugly, though I bought 'em) unis.

But on the cover of their media guide and on their opening night ticket, there's Big Brad and Mark Price in the new uniforms.

POJO_Risin said...

I agree with both posts.

I was, and am a huge Daugherty fan. The coup that picked him up with the first pick in the draft...

the great years...ruined by Jordan...

and now, Brad is gone.

He'll be back, someday...

and in all seriousness, these guys have to wake up, and learn how to let things go.

Anonymous said...

Maybe LaBron ccan reach out to him and let him know how much it would to the franchise (the Cavs not LBJ)if he would show up. I think it is worth a shot.

Anonymous said...

what's funny or sad about all this is that Brad was as much a lightning rod of fans ire as is big Z today. There were as many people who loved him as there were who seemingly despised him.

I remember my uncles insisting he was killing the team in the playoffs because of how "soft" he was (their words, not mine). Meanwhile, my neighbor would be saying he was the only shot we'd ever have in beating MJ's Bulls.