The Optimist

March 1, 2013

Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! I’m an Optimist – And why not?! If you’re not as high on life as I am, you haven’t been watching Cavalier basketball. Get the hell out of my NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE!

Sorry. I lost my cool.

It’s just that I’ve been dipped in the healing waters of winning basketball. And it is good.

The Wine and Gold just wrapped up their winningest month in recent memory and are a bad half-quarter in Miami away from being undefeated since the All-Star Break. The Cavs snapped an 11-game skein to the Bulls in Chicago without their All-Star and stepped on the Raptors’ collective neck at The Q the following night.

Tristan ThompsonOn Friday night, the Cavaliers welcome the Lob City Clippers to what should be a complete loony bin at The Q. We do it like no other barn in the NBA on the corner of Huron and Ontario. And that’s the theme of today’s N.A.T.L..

As I’ve explained before, “News … Around … The … League” breaks down thusly: “News” means “stuff.” And “… Around … The … League” means “about anything.” Therefore, “News … Around … The … League” – technically speaking – means “stuff about anything.”

Today, I’d like to stray off script and talk about what a far-out trip the Quicken Loans Experience can be. I know many of you have already lived it and might even be in the house on Friday night. But there might be Cavalier fans and readers in, say, the Federated States of Micronesia who’ve never had the opportunity to see their beloved team live and up-close.

Well you just sit tight, Federated Micronesians. We’ll talk all about The Q after I take care of our three weekly pillars – Today-in-History, Birthdays and Current Events. (I’m allowed to mess with the sports stuff, but these three are federally regulated. Plus, I don’t want to bum out anyone trying to celebrate their birthday today – like Vietnamese politician, Pham Van Dong.)

March 1 is loaded with significant occurrences: The discovery of radioactivity. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. The establishment of Yellowstone National Park.

But probably its most important date to us local yokels is the admission of Ohio as the 17th state in 1803. About 30 years later, we got busy doing what we do – fighting Michigan in the Toledo War, a boundary conflict over the Toledo Strip. Congress stepped in, declared us the winner, and made Michigan’s admission as a state conditional on ending the conflict. Congress then gave them the stupid Upper Peninsula, which we didn’t want, anyway.

HollywoodAs for today’s Birthdays, I’ve already mentioned “the Donger.” But what about the litany of greats like Ron Howard, Ralph Ellison, Roger Daltrey, Pete Rozelle, Dirk “Faceman” Benedict, Ke$ha, Catherine Bach and little Justin Bieber? Well now I just mentioned them, too.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the great Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, a man who played 13 seasons in the NFL and won the lottery in Texas twice after he retired, prompting him to give – in my opinion – the greatest quote by an athlete of all-time. When a reporter asked Henderson how he now spends his days, he responded: “I don’t do sh*t. And I don’t start that until after lunch.”

In this week’s Current Events, we can finally put the topic of space travel to rest. We’ve got a new topic of interstellar importance.

Anyone who’s ever read this column knows that if there’s one subject that I find fascinating – besides excessively fat or excessively tiny people or animals or hillbillies rebelling against authority – it’s nine-year-old rappers named “Lil Poopy.”

Lil PoopyThis week, Lil Poopy made national news when one of his videos – “Pop That” – triggered an emergency investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families after local police filed a complaint against the boy’s father, Luis Rivera. In the video, Lil Poopy is seen flashing fat stacks, cruising around in a Ferrari (without a seatbelt) and slapping a woman on her quite opulent buttucks.

Authorities are claiming child abuse, but Lil Poopy’s attorney, Joseph Krowski, Jr., argues that the youngster goes to school every day and is well-liked by his teachers and principal and that “even nine-year-olds have First Amendment protection.”

I, for one, say: “word.”

Don’t let The Man keep you down, Lil Poopy. If rap is your form of expression and your folks are OK with it, let it all hang out. But you really should wear a seatbelt. The Ferrari is a high-performance vehicle.

If we restricted our young Cavaliers like that, they might not have turned the season around like they have over the month of February. But Byron Scott has allowed them the freedom to grow up on the fly.

And that explains the enthusiasm that washes over The Q every game night.

I’ve been to every arena in the National B.A., and I promise you, nobody does it like we do at The Q. That’s not pandering; it’s the truth.

MoondogAfter some of the franchise’s most successful runs – including a trip to the Finals in 2007 – there have been a few lean years for the Wine and Gold. But the fan support never went away. Cleveland never gave up.

Fans around the league don’t fill the gym like Cavalier fans do and they wouldn’t be as loud if they did. Other arenas have only one mascot. Other arena’s PA announcers don’t speak French. Our Scream Team makes other arena’s Scream Teams look like that bit where other arenas bring out senior citizens or great, big fat guys to dance. Other arena’s scoreboards don’t even shoot flames!

And I can guarantee other gyms don’t have anything matching “Bob the Dancing Usher.”

I remember earlier this season, some maintenance big-wigs tried to make Bob stop dancing because he was scuffing the court. But my man didn’t stop for a single rump-shaking second. Nobody puts Bobby in a corner!

On Friday night at The Q, I’m hoping to see my new favorite bit of game night entertainment – a pair of Green Men who’ve recently taken to dancing behind the basket stanchions late in the game. I don’t know who these dudes are, but I like ‘em. I like ‘em a lot!

(For those of you unfamiliar with what a “Green Man” is, please see the enclosed graphics. As you can see, Green Man works in almost any form of competitive situation, from basketball to hockey to golf to politics. Baseball really isn’t a Greenman-type sport and people already get pie-eyed and dress every which way for football games.)

Green ManI want to see those two morons dancing around on Friday night. And I want them doing it to celebrate another Cavaliers victory.

There is no better arena in the NBA. Nobody enjoys winning like we do. It’s a blast at The Q. It’s organic. And it’s a different kind of party every night.

The squad itself is finally starting to match that energy. We’ve been set on “stun” for too long. The Cavaliers are one of the league’s most exciting young teams right now. The bench is as good as any in the East, the frontline gets better by the week and we’ve got a pair of players in the backcourt that are close to unstoppable when they start smelling blood in the fourth quarter.

If you’re not stranded in the Federated States of Micronesia over the next month-and-a-half, I strongly recommend a trip to downtown Cleveland to enjoy a Cavaliers contest. Now is the most enjoyable time to get on board with a team.

Me, Kyrie, Moondog, A.C., Freddie Mac, Dion, Bob the Dancing Usher, Sir CC, Chones, John Michael and the Green Men will all be waiting for you.

And whether you’re coming to The Q or not, if you’re having a few drinks this weekend, please remember to call a cab or find yourself a designated driver. As always – Saturday Morning You will thank Friday Night You for doing it.

Here endeth the lesson, meatheads.

Enjoy Friday’s contest and, please, if you can manage the time, remember to …

Keep the Faith, Cleveland

Keep On Truckin’,
The Optimist