Hello? Can you guys hear me in the back?

Before you start on your rigatoni and fried chicken, check this out …

Hey The Optimist,

You might remember me as the smoothly-coiffed, playoff Mohawk guy from three years ago. Since then I've become a clichéd “young professional” and sport a buzz-cut with the playoff beard, natch.

Anyway, I was wondering when you were going to put on the Annual Optimist Awards Banquet? It's always one of your best columns of the year and a must-read for any Cavs fan.

That's all I wanted to know. Keep it trill, and go Cavs!

Arlington, VA

Jordan from Arlington – you are truly in luck, my friend. Because today, I’d like to welcome you and your fellow readers to the Sixth – yes, Sixth! – Annual OPTIMIST AWARDS BANQUET.

I am this “The Optimist” that you speak of, and I’ll be today’s host. For those of you who brought children – you might want to get the little ones home before the 10:30 show. I work a little blue.

After demolishing the Detroit Pistons in four dominant victories, the Cavaliers find themselves with a week off before embarking on the Second Round of the postseason. So I figured now would be a perfect time to hand out some hardware. (As you know, Banquet voting closes after the regular season concludes.)

After Coach Mike Brown rightfully locked up Coach of the Year honors, the NBA gave out some jive-job awards that Cavaliers didn’t win – like Defensive Player of the Year or Sixth Man or something.

The real trophies are coming in the next few days and weeks. TheBron will officially be recognized as Planet Earth’s best basketballer in about a week, and ‘round mid-June, he and his mates will be making out with the Larry O’Brien Trophy’s spherical melon.

Before we get to those honors, sit back and enjoy the Awards Banquet. The cash bar will open after dinner, but unfortunately, this year the chocolate fountain will be closed due to budget constraints.

Help yourself to the refreshments and – as always – please, NO gang colors.

The Optimist

First Annual | Second Annual | Third Annual | Fourth Annual |
Fifth Annual Awards Banquet

2008-09 All-Optimist First Team

Look, I know it seems fishy that each and every year for the past six years, the entire All-Optimist First Team is completely loaded with Cavaliers. But I’ve counted and re-counted the votes and it comes up Wine and Gold every time. Here’s the hard truth: Cleveland didn’t win 66 games by trotting a bunch of All-Optimist Second-Teamers out there.

Head Coach
Mo Williams
Mo Gotti now treats 29 other teams the way he used to treat the Cavaliers.
Delonte West
The aspiring artist and poet’s all-around floor game is both artistic and poetic.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas
This year, cemented his status as the franchise’s best Big of all-times.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
Anderson Varejao
Teammates love the Wild Thing. Opponents want to stab him with a screwdriver.
Mike Brown
Grew a Playoff Beard™ and won 2008-09 Coach of the Year. Coincidence?

2008-09 All-Optimist Second Team

Notable omissions from this year’s strong crop include Von Wafer, Chris Mihms, Thaddeus Young, Sasha Pavlovic, Sasha Vujacic, Zaza Pachulia, Zarko Cabarkapa, Greg Oden, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Luc Mbah a Moute, Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, Bobby Jackson, Eduardo Najera, Kyrylo Fesenko, Yakhouba Diawara, Danilo Gallinari, Marco Belinelli, Jason Kapono, Kosta Koufos, the AK-47, Shaq Diesel, Luther Head, Mark Blount, Quincy Douby, Hamed Haddadi, J-Smoove, Donyell Marshall and, as always, Joel Przybilla, the Vanilla Gorilla.

Head Coach
Andre Miller
Former Cavalier once lead the league in assists on a team that started Bryan Stith.
Brandon Roy
My team-crush on the Blazers has nothing to do with this selection. He good.
Yao Ming
Out-muscles opponents with his huge frame; out-thinks them with his enormous head.
David Lee
Couldn’t hold TheBron under 50, but I’m still a fan of this double-double machine.
Ron Artest
Tougher than a one-eared alley cat. Crazier than a soup sandwich.
Doc Rivers
Love Doc. Hate the Celtics. I’m complex, and chicks dig me for it.

2008-09 Optimist All-Nemesis Team

Like the 2008-09 Second Team, this year’s All-Nemesis Team has two starters from the same NBA squad. First-time entrant, Kevin Garnett, joins this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner – the irrepressible Paul Pierce – who once spit at little Luke Jackson and also dropped 41 points on the Cavaliers in Game 7 last year in Boston. As I say every year, these men have done me no personal harm (yet). They just make life unpleasant for the Cavaliers, which hurts my feelings. Notable omissions from this year’s squad include Tyronn Lue, Kobe Bryant, Mo Williams, Joakim Noah, and, of course, Rick Davis.

Head Coach
Larry Huge
Good guy, but didn’t like playing here. How can someone not like playing here?!
Paul Pierce
Nemesis for Life. It’s really quite an honor.
Kevin Garnett
Plays tough guy with heavy hitters like Jose Calderon and Luke Ridenour.
Andres Nocioni
Gets on TheBron’s nerves.
Carlos Boozer
Think Clevelanders can’t hold a grudge forever? Try us.
Red Auerbach
The Godfather.

The 2008-09 Edgar Jones Seventh Man Award

As it is every year, voting for the coveted Edgar Jones Seventh Man Award was tighter than a frog’s hoo-ha. This award – named after the tenacious, toothless Cavalier forward – goes to the reserve who simultaneously stimulates the Quicken Loans Arena crowd and concurrently contributes to the Cavaliers’ cause. Any of the following bench players could have taken the trophy. Wally was tough as nails all season and led the Eastern Conference in high-fives. Boobie Gibson is heating up when it counts. Joe Smith has been an absolute godsend once again. And Splasha Pavlovic canned some big shots off the bench, exspecially on the road.

But the award goes to Big Ben Wallace, because everyone’s afraid to tell him the Banquet’s almost over and he might not leave with a trophy.

And also because, even at 34, the four-time Defensive Player of the Year can still smother three positions defensively and gives the Cavaliers the baddest dude on the floor
every night.

Wally Szczerbiak
Daniel Gibson
Splasha Pavlovic
The Nominees

The Winner
Ben Wallace

Professor Chewy's 2008-09 All-Bald Team

Professor Chewy is a friend and confidante. He is a contemporary. He was formerly Quality Control here at He is also a self-professed Bald.

Professor Chewy wears this sign of virility with great pride. And he has been compiling a list of his contemporaries for several years, and always selects a deserving Cavalier. I always like to share the list – whether you, yourself, are a Bald or not.

The rules are simple: No Rugs, No Plugs and No Drugs. (Chewy finds self-hating Balds like Jeremy Piven reprehensible.) This year's notable omissions include Ed Harris, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Sean Connery, Samuel L. Jackson, James Taylor, Len Komoroski, Lou Gossett, Jr., Hector Elizondo, Andre Agassi, Alan Arkin, Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Jeff Phelps, John Malkovich, George Karl, James Carville, Jason Alexander, Michael Jordan, Woody Harrelson, Fred Biletnikoff, Stanley Tucci, Kimbo Slice, "Hey Now!" Hank Kingsley, Ghandi and Bill Kreutzmann, the drummer for the Grateful Dead.

David Cross
John Amos
Ron Howard
Dan Ferry
Larry David
James Gandolfini

2008-09 Updated List of
Akron's Greatest Contributions to Mankind

Isn’t it enough that Cleveland itself is a virtual Paradise on Earth? Must the city of Akron also be a Garden of Earthly Delights?

Apparently so, because look at the bounty of goodness which currently exists some 40 miles southeast of C-town. And, I remind you, this is just Akron’s contribution. The Banquet didn’t rent the hall long enough to capture the entire UCLA (Upper Canton Lower Akron) region.

This year, the voting was tough after we got past the Top 2 – led by TheBron and uber-scribe, Brian Windhorst. I love competitive eating champion, Coondog O’Karma, exspecially because I know he reads the column. But what about pro football’s Antoine Winfield and Beanie Wells or former Playmate of the Year and “Barker’s Beauty,” Heather Kozar or acclaimed director Jim Jarmusch? And don’t even get me started on U. of Akron's marsupial mascot, Zippy.

The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde made her triumphant return, leapfrogged the Blimp – which is no easy task – and landed at No. 3. The ultra-foxy Angie Everhart also returned to the mix. Not just because she was once engaged to Joe Pesci and is great on the Howard Stern Show, but because the list needed a little eye-candy besides Brian.

Brian Windhorst
Chrissie Hynde
Angie Everhart
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