The Optimist

February 23, 2013

Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! It’s me, the Optimist – spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport: The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. This is’s NEWS … AROUND … THE … LEAGUE.

Today’s installment comes to you from the Sunshine State, where the Wine and Gold play their 15th back-to-back set of the season – facing off against the Magic on Saturday night in Orlando and our old pal, Numeral 6, and his stupid Heatles on Sunday evening in South Beach.

Before we departed, the Cavaliers began the season’s second stanza with a nationally-televised win on Wednesday night over the Hornets to wrap up a seven-game homestand. Kyrie was electric in the fourth quarter once again – tallying 20 of his game-high 35 points in the final period.

Kyrie IrvingThe kid is really, really good at basketball. We all already knew that in Cleveland. But last weekend, he showed the entire world – mastering all three days of competition during All-Star Weekend in Houston.

We’ll get back to the midseason classic shortly. And I do mean shortly – because I’ve made a Lenten promise to trim some of the fat from N.A.T.L.. It’s gotten so bloated that it can barely see its own toes. Plus, my boss told me to shorten the column. He said I didn’t need to publish a manifesto every Friday and that my readers just aren’t that intelligent and most likely don’t have the mental aptitude or attention span for as many words as I like to write.

I strongly disagreed with his assessment of you guys, but when he compared my column-length to the Celtic-centric screeds of my nemesis – NBA bloviator, Bill Simmons – I agreed to get thin.

I’m going to get started right away – smushing all three housecleaning items (and maybe a Christian feast day) into a single paragraph each, like a fat guy in a little coat.

Watch this …

DollyAmidst the usual plundering, pillaging and all-out ransacking that went down Today-in-History, probably the biggest recorded accomplishment was the successful cloning of a domestic sheep named “Dolly” in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1997. Because the cell from which she was cloned was taken from a donor’s mammary gland, she was named after Dolly Parton. Before her death in 2003, Dolly gave birth to six lambs – Sally, Rosie, Lucy, Lance, Rico and Lenny, who had an insatiable taste for pizza.

In today’s Birthdays, we celebrate the successful deliveries of liberal icon Ted Kennedy, Hall of Fame skipper Sparky Anderson, actress Drew Barrymore, NBA and ABA deity, Julius Erving, former O.J. attorney Robert Kardashian, former Cavalier, Chris Dudley and the late, great Steve Irwin a/k/a “The Crocodile Hunter” – who dedicated his life illustrating that provoking wild animals wasn’t all that dangerous, right up until one killed him.

As for Current Events, let’s stick with a recent theme – things being shot from the Earth into outer space and things from outer space falling to Earth. The latter happened last week in Chebarkul, Russia, when a 50-foot meteor crashed into the atmosphere, injuring almost 1,200 people with a shock wave estimated to be as strong as 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs. Some see this as a potential doomsday scenario, but I view it as a message from the Gods, warning mankind to stop shooting Iranian monkeys into the cosmos.

And because we’re being so efficient today, I think we even have time to celebrate the feast day of St. Margaret of Cortona – a saint who talked the talk and walked the walk. The versatile St. Margaret, who was canonized in 1728, is the patron saint of the falsely accused, hoboes, the homeless, falsely-accused hoboes, the mentally ill, orphaned children, midwives, penitents, single mothers, reformed prostitutes, Browns fans, undecided voters and individuals suffering from turf-toe.


I know thick paragraphs are a no-no on the World Wide Web because most readers don’t have the mental aptitude or attention span. But you guys are different. And to reward your big brains for indulging my Lenten vows in today’s N.A.T.L., what say we talk some sports? You wanna? It’ll be fun.

Stars at Night, Big and Bright – Deep in the heart of Texas last weekend, the Wine and Gold represented as well as any team in the NBA.

BBVAKyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller starred in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday. Kyrie topped the Red Mamba in the Three-Point Shootout on Saturday and looked absolutely at-home in the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

After three days of Wine and Gold dominance, the only thing that seemed brighter than the Cavaliers’ future was Craig Sager’s iridescent wardrobe, which now teeters somewhere between Liberace and Clipper Darrell.

As usual, the All-Star Game itself was like a fireworks display: You’re geeked for it to start, then you’re impressed by everything, then you’re desensitized to everything until the grand finale which – this year – included Kobe Bryant swatting the aforementioned Numeral 6 in the closing moments.

Laker Legend – This week, the basketball world mourned the passing of legendary Lakers owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, who passed away on Monday.

Jerry BussByron Scott joined several legendary Lakers in Southern California this week to honor Dr. Buss, who grew up during the Great Depression in Wyoming and built his empire after investing $1,000 in a West Los Angeles apartment building – hoping to make some extra money so he could continue teaching.

There’s nothing I can write about the Hall of Fame owner that hasn’t already been written. I just know that he once uttered one of my favorite sports quotes of all-time, saying: “I bought the Lakers so I could beat the Celtics.”

Amen to that, Dr. Buss.

Happy trails.

And the Award Goes To ... – I’m sure in somewhere out there, there’s an octopus or orangutan or koala bear that, on Monday morning, will claim to have predicted all the Academy Award winners.

LincolnBut there’s very little skill involved in those picks. And while I may not have as much hair or as many tentacles as some of the prognosticators, I’d like to take my shot at who will win the Oscars on Sunday night (after the Cavaliers defeat the Heat in Miami).

“Argo” will win Best Picture; Daniel Day-Lewis will win for Best Actor; Jennifer Lawrence will win for Best Actress. Supporting Actor and Actress will go to Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Anne Hathaway, respectively. I refuse to pick a Best Director since Quentin Tarantino wasn’t nominated. Adele’s song “Skyfall” from the movie “Skyfall” will be the year’s top tune because she’s performing it at the ceremony and because they’re doing a James Bond tribute – which should be pretty mint.

Feel free to check back next week to see how correct I was.

That’s all for today, knuckaheads. Because I’m trying to cut back on my word count, I wasn’t able to touch on several topics.

DynastyI decided to edit out my Daytona 500 preview because I just don’t care enough about cars driving fast in a circle, whether they tell me there’s a foxy girl sitting on the pole or not. And I’m not going to focus on UFC 157 and the much-ballyhooed fight between two women because – unless it’s Joan Collins v. Linda Evans in a lily pond – I’m kind of repulsed at the thought of two women pounding the crap out of each other.

Enjoy some Cavaliers action this weekend, friendoes. If you’re having a few delicious cocktails during Saturday’s game or even for a Cavs-Heat/Academy Awards party on Sunday, please remember to call a cab or pick a designated driver. And if you’re going to pick a designated driver, do so early in the evening, not once you’ve both been shlooking. That defeats the entire purpose.

We’ll reconvene in exactly one week’s time. Until then, please do us both a favor and remember to …

Keep the Faith, Cleveland

One love,
The Optimist