Cavs' Varejao can sympathize with Sixers
CLEVELAND - Anderson Varejao winced as if he had just twisted an ankle while grabbing a rebound. A seemingly innocent question triggered hidden pain.
Even more than three years later, the sting of losing a record 26 straight games lingers for Cleveland's center. Before the 76ers matched the 2010-11 Cavaliers' mark for NBA futility on Thursday, Varejao struggled to discuss a troubling time in his past.
So, how tough was it?
"Nobody," Varejao said, "wants to have that record."
And, nobody but the Cavs can understand what the Sixers are going through.
The 2010-11 season, which actually started with a stunning win over the Boston Celtics in the opener, was one Cleveland would like to forget.
It was the Cavs' first after superstar LeBron James packed up and left as a free agent for Miami, and in the wake of his departure, the Cavaliers collapsed - completely.
Under first-year coach Byron Scott, the Cavs went from 61 wins to 19. And beginning with a loss to Utah on Dec. 20, 2010, they began an ill-fated, 26-game stumble that didn't end until they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in overtime on Feb. 11, 2011.
Before the Cavs hosted Toronto on Tuesday night, Varejao reluctantly revisited those inglorious days. He initially declined an interview request, but after some polite prodding, the affable Brazilian shared a few thoughts on what it's like to go nearly two months without a win.
"I don't really want to talk about it," he said, standing in the hallway outside Cleveland's locker room. "It's just something I really don't think about. The way it happened, to us, every game we had a chance to win. It wasn't like everyone was blowing us out. We had a lot of injuries, and that's all that I can really remember, we had a lot of injuries. We had a lot of games that we had a good chance to win and we didn't.
"It's just tough when you do everything right and you compete to win and it doesn't happen."