The Speaking Sequence is a weekly section that delves deeper into subjects mentioned by visitors on the Males’s Journal On a regular basis Warrior Podcast.
When J.B. Bickerstaff was named head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers again in 2020, many within the league considered the crew as underdogs. Nevertheless, Bickerstaff shortly started molding his squad of younger, gifted gamers right into a pressure to be reckoned with. In 2021, lower than a yr into Bickerstaff’s tenure, a second from the bench ignited a fireplace inside the crew and laid the inspiration for a brand new period.
The pivotal second triggered pleasure to ripple from the bench to the court docket and from the locker room up via the stands. Coach Bickerstaff shortly acknowledged the potential of this natural second and harnessed it to reshape Cleveland’s tradition.
The participant chargeable for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ renewed hope is Lamar Stevens. After being handed over within the 2020 NBA Draft, Stevens signed a two-way contract with the crew. However it wasn’t till a yr later that the younger ahead unexpectedly breathed new life into the struggling franchise by giving them their bark.
Just lately, we welcomed Stevens to the Males’s Journal On a regular basis Warrior Podcast. Earlier than heading over to observe that interview, it’s price taking a better take a look at the rising star and the junkyard canine he unleashed on the NBA.
The journey of Lamar Stevens
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Stevens developed a ardour for basketball at a younger age. As he was honing his expertise on the court docket, his dad and mom instilled precious classes that may form him into chief and a good higher particular person. They labored onerous and gave again to the group.
“I watched my mother and pa lend palms to household and buddies,” he says. “That’s one thing I’ve at all times taken satisfaction in.”
These values had been like seeds; alongside the way in which, mentors would nurture and water what his dad and mom had planted, creating the correct circumstances for his management to flourish.
Quickly, the world would see his pure expertise. Throughout his time at The Haverford College, a prep faculty in Pennsylvania, Stevens made the All-State and All-District groups. After transferring to Roman Catholic Excessive College for his senior yr, he made the All-State and All-District groups, including a championship to his résumé.
He then performed for Penn State College, establishing himself as one of many prime gamers within the Huge Ten Convention. He was a three-time All-Huge Ten choice and, throughout his senior yr, was named to the First Group All-Huge Ten. Stevens additionally ranks amongst Penn State’s all-time leaders in scoring, rebounds, and video games performed.
Throughout school, his coaches taught him to give attention to what he might management. “You’ll be able to’t management sure issues, however you possibly can at all times management your vitality, effort, and angle,” Stevens says. “These are the issues I be certain I carry on daily basis as a result of that’s all I can management.”
It’s additionally the place Coach Pat Chambers taught him to step right into a management function and be an instance for these round him.
The bark heard ’around the league
There’s some disagreement on when Stevens first set free the bark, however there’s no debate that his actions united the crew, grounded them in goal, and allowed them to find their id. Stevens’ bodily, gritty, robust enjoying type emerged as a beacon of hope when the Cleveland Cavaliers wanted it most. The seeds of management planted all these years earlier had lastly borne fruit.
The legendary bark symbolizes the Cavaliers’ scrappy, junkyard canine mentality. In a league hyper-focused on polished manufacturers, Cleveland is a reminder that basketball is a bodily recreation gained and misplaced within the paint—the place willpower typically prevails. This mentality shortly swept via the group and is now firmly embedded in its tradition.
A born chief, Stevens is gifted, expert, and able to go away all of it on the court docket. These attributes make him the form of participant each crew needs, which is ironic since they missed their likelihood in 2020. Now, they face a complete Cavaliers roster influenced by his hard-nosed type and team-first mentality.
“I’ve developed a relationship with the fellows the place I’d name them out, however they know I simply need what’s finest for everyone on the crew,” Stevens says.
Junkyard canine tradition
Final season, after claiming their fourth straight victory, Coach Bickerstaff headed for the customer’s locker room at Madison Sq. Backyard. He entered and started barking. His gamers responded in variety. The label of being an underdog, as soon as some extent of competition, was now one thing the crew took satisfaction in.
After the barking subsided, the coach started an after-game custom honoring the participant who left all of it on the court docket. Whereas on the podcast a few months in the past, Bickerstaff mentioned the extremely coveted Junkyard Canine Chain, saying, “we don’t give it to the best scorer; we give it to the man who scrapped essentially the most.”
The Junkyard Canine Chain, designed by The Foundry at Jared, is a 14K gold industrial chain that anchors a large C-shaped pendant. The entrance is encrusted in pure garnets, and the crew’s motto runs alongside the underside. The flipside pays homage to the followers by showcasing Cleveland’s 216 space code, nods to their metropolis by depicting the skyline, and honors the crew’s historical past by commemorating the 2016 Championship and a number of other iterations of their brand.
For Stevens, the response to his bark, which was his manner of telling his teammates to scrap like canine, has been each thrilling and surreal. “If we now have a crew pulling in the identical path and preventing for a similar factor, I believe that’s unimaginable,” Stevens says. The factor about large change is that these chargeable for it not often assume their actions may have an enduring affect. Nevertheless, doing the correct factor isn’t inconsequential.
The Junkyard Canine Chain and the custom surrounding it have turn out to be a rallying cry for the Cavaliers.
A recreation performed with coronary heart
This story is a few gifted participant whose values helped his crew uncover their id whereas incomes him the prospect to indicate the world what he can do. It’s additionally a few coach seeing potential in gamers others overlook. Stevens’ path to the NBA might have been unconventional, however his management expertise, expertise, and skill to encourage have confirmed that he belongs on the massive stage.
At a time when spotlight reel performs reign supreme, the Cavaliers’ junkyard-dog mentality is a refreshing return to basketball in its purest type: a recreation performed with coronary heart. Since getting into the highlight, Stevens has made it really feel like something’s attainable. Now, the world can’t wait to see what the long run holds for this rising star and his crew.
For entry to unique gear movies, superstar interviews, and extra, subscribe on YouTube!