The joy of the Cavaliers’ Junkyard Dog Chain

The Cleveland Cavaliers have not been very good lately. They have gone  6-10 since the All-Star Break, and are now in the seventh seed where they would be forced to play for a spot in the postseason.

Yet there is another reason for Cavs fans to hope for victories: the recent introduction of the Junkyard Dog Chain.

With few expecting the Cavaliers to be a competitive squad this year, the team has embraced an underdog mentality. It became a bit more literal when players began barking together early in the season to celebrate their hot start.

Bickerstaff after each win to the Cavalier who most fully personifies the “scrap mentality and intensity” that the team is aiming for. On the front of it are the words, Details, Toughness, Compete, Together, and 1 More.

The Cleveland Cavaliers turned their gritty mentality into a shiny piece of art

Junkyard Dog may not be as lovely a phrase as “cellar door,” but it does stick with you. Those hard sounds at the end of each syllable pop emphatically, capturing the spirit of the award itself. And it’s not meant to be comical, but there is something amusing about it, making this writer think about the dogs in the classic Looney Tunes short “Dog Pounded,” who continuously ruin Sylvester’s day. It’s not the same thing as Evan Mobley blocking an otherwise easy lay-up attempt, but it’s close.

I am in a group chat with some of my oldest friends. The conversation constantly veers as most do, but more than anything else, we talk about Cleveland sports.

However, I must admit that, when they have won, we have repeatedly been wrong.

Since the Junkyard Dog Chain rewards players for contributions that may not show up in the box score, it’s hard to know what will make someone its recipient. Barring a bevy of dives for loose balls, with Bickerstaff determining the winner presumably by himself, it’s ultimately unpredictable. That’s the thing about an honor-based ultimately on vibes; you never really know.

Northeast Ohio loves to imagine itself as a gritty and resilient place. Everything is earned.”  It’s not that Cleveland natives will scorn a flashy dunk, but that performing one will not endear you to them quite like getting tangled up with an opponent and forcing a jump ball.

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