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The Week In Sports: Spring Training, Cleveland Cavaliers


And now it's time for Sports.


SIMON: And our man, Howard Bryant, from espn.com and ESPN the magazine joins us from Scottsdale, Ariz. this week where he's covering spring training.

Howard, thanks so much for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. And I'm not gloating - it's an arduous, terrible assignment. Trust me.

SIMON: Oh, well, that's why we're so grateful that you do that.


SIMON: However, it is, you know, something like, you know, one in the morning or something there. So let's start with basketball because I suspect it's not light there yet. The Cleveland Cavaliers are playing so well, winning so many games that Coach Blatt could rest his two best players last night. Of course, they lost to the Pacers. But is there a more reliably electrifying team in the game right now?

BRYANT: Well, no, I mean obviously I think, not in the East. And obviously, when you've got LeBron James on your team, you're going to be a formidable team. And I think that's what's interesting about the Cavaliers, is that they hadn't been playing well. And you knew that it was going to take a little bit of time before Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and all of them to mesh, and now it's starting to happen, they just came in. Before losing last night, they'd won 18 out of 20 games. And you can really look at them and you can see that as the season gets closer, as we get closer to the playoffs, they're going be a really tough team. They're fourth the East right now, but it really doesn't make a difference. You're not going to - do you really want to play LeBron James in the first round of the playoffs?

SIMON: Yeah. No. (Laughter). Or any game.

BRYANT: Or any round of the playoffs, exactly.

SIMON: Meanwhile, in Chicago the best sports team may be on the bench at the sports health clinic at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital because the two biggest stars in town are out. Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls has had knee surgery for what, the third time?

BRYANT: And it's terrible. He tore - he's got a tear in his medial meniscus. And anyone who's basketball fan knows how long it took Derrick Rose to come back from the first two injuries. And this is another example - I know we talk about football, and the difference between the injuries in football and basketball and the other sports. Football, you pretty much wake up expecting to get hurt, but basketball and the other sports are kind of freak injuries or they're a little less - a little more rare. But Derrick Rose is - his injury, to get hurt again and to be his knees, it's just - the entire town is devastated in Chicago. And they've got a real chance to be a championship team this year. And then to have Patrick Kane get hurt as well...

SIMON: The Chicago Blackhawks, yeah.

BRYANT: ...To have him hurt his shoulder. Exactly. And so you've got a team that's already got two Stanley Cups losing their best player, and Patrick Kane was leading the league in points. And then to have Derrick Rose. You had a chance this year to have two teams go to a championship in Chicago. Now, they think they're going to get both of them back before the playoffs, and maybe Patrick Kane a little bit deeper into the playoffs. But still, injuries change everything. And it's really interesting when people talk about LeBron James. If Derrick Rose had been healthy, maybe LeBron James doesn't have that many titles.

SIMON: Yeah. Boy. Well, that's something to contemplate for the philosophers.

BRYANT: It's been a tough break, a tough break for Chicago.

SIMON: Yeah, in all ways. Howard Bryant of espn.com and ESPN the magazine.

Howard, thanks so much for joining us. And we'll talk baseball soon, OK?

BRYANT: Indeed. Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.