by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor
The Optimist

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Welcome, ladies and gentlemen and Cavalier fans! It is I – El Optimisto.

My friends, how many times have you sat through an Academy Awards telecast or even one of your children’s awards banquets and thought: “Man, I wish this would last longer. I wish it would last twice as long!

Well, for those of you who answered “Almost always!” – you’re about to be made happier than the proverbial pig in the proverbial slop. Because this year, we’re making the unprecedented move of breaking the EIGHTH ANNUAL OPTIMIST AWARDS BANQUET into a groundbreaking two-part cavalcade of whimsy!

Oh mama.

OK – so now that we’ve established that, you’re probably wondering: “OK, but what’s J.J. Hickson doing in here with that white tuxedo? Is it on accounta the Royal Wedding?”

No, it’s not on accounta no damn Royal Wedding!!

I’ve decided that, because my Awards Banquet is twice as big this year, I’d get twice the emcee power. And as long as J.J. is still renting the white-on-white with tails, I was hoping he – and his young lady friend (pictured) – might lend me a hand in distributing the postseason hardware.

Our beloved Cavaliers had a tough year in 2010-11. Tougher than any I’ve been a part of.

And yet, I almost can’t remember feeling better, more positive and optimistic for the future. We have the best owner and fans in the NBA. Our coach has a proven track record of turning teams around – and the evidence manifested itself down the stretch. And Chris Grant made savvy, unemotional moves (and prudent non-moves) that have the Wine and Gold poised for short- and long-term success.

We took care of some of the minor and technical awards at a closed event late last week. Semih Erden was named this year’s “Best Turkish Rookie” and Bob the Dancing Usher captured the coveted “Best Dancing Usher” trophy (or “Ushie”) for the third consecutive season.

As for today’s events, I’m ready to get this fanfaronade started. So let’s macht schnell and make with the hardware. J.J. don’t got all day.

So sit back and enjoy and please remember – as always – NO gang colors.

2010-11 All-Optimist First Team

Some of you more cynical readers might wonder how a team that dropped 63 games, including 26 straight, could field FIVE starters on 2010-11 First Team, plus Coach Byron Scott. And my co-emcee – (and the starting power forward of this year’s First Team) – J.J. Hickson might just tell them that Oscar Wilde once said: “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

So this year’s Cavaliers didn’t win 60 games or make the playoffs. Sometimes I think I’d rather watch this hard-working, scrappy bunch of overachievers. And – you never know – maybe some former Cavaliers from last year’s 60-win squad will make this year’s Second Team. (Not bloody likely.)

Head Coach

Baron Davis
Taught a young team to win and then taught foes to fear the beard.

Anthony Parker
Even if you weren’t Shelden Williams, you’d still want this dude for a brother-in-law.

Ryan Hollins
Floats like a butterfly. Stings like a bee.

J.J. Hickson
I done told you people: Beware the Baby Bull!

Antawn Jamison
A pro’s pro. Might be a superhero in his spare time.


Like a bridge over troubled water.

2010-11 All-Optimist Second Team

This year’s extended list of regrettable omissions include the Earl of Boykins, Mustafa Shakur, Ron Artest, Epke Udoh, Ike Diogu, Ben Uzoh, Serge Ibaka, Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, Ian Mahinmi, Luc Mbah a Moute, Darnell Jackson, Pape Sy, Shane Battier, Luther Head, Quincy Douby, Zabian Dowdell, Jonas Jerebko, Krylo Fesenko, Nikola Pekovic, Darnell Jackson, Omri Casspi, Joe Smith, Alexis Ajinca, N'Diaye Hamady, Hamed Haddadi, Timofey Mozgov, Ish Smith and, as always, Joel Przybilla, the Vanilla Gorilla.

Head Coach

Didn’t kill any bats this year, but is still the league’s most exciting player on its most boring team.

Brandon Roy
What’s not to love?

DeMar DeRozan
Called out the shamockery that the Slam Dunk Contest has become. Also, has a really cool name.

Kevin Love
Almost made the All-Nemesis Team for tormenting the Cavs this year.

Drew Gooden
Good player. Good person.

George Karl
Even with his own issues, former Cavs coach kept Denver together through the Melodrama.

2010-11 Optimist All-Nemesis Team

I don’t spend too much time on the All-Nemesis Team because they like to get out of here early in order to go out and do more evil.

I was going to put Charlie Villanueva on the squad, but I thought: the guy already had a tough year dealing with All-Nemesis Hall of Famer, Kevin Garnett. So I cut him a break. After all, Ryan Hollins cheesed off a lot of people this season.

Unfortunately once again, I’m unable to put my personal nemesis – ESPN’s Bill Simmons – on the list. But that’s just because he doesn’t have a position (besides on his arse on a couch and nowhere near an actual athlete, coach or locker room.)

Head Coach

The Earl of Boykins
Against Cleveland, he cannot be stopped or destroyed by conventional weapons.

Ed House
Nobody likes him. Boobie don’t like him, too.

Paul Pierce
Seeking coveted spot on All-Nemesis All-Time Team.

Carmelo Anthony
Selfishness screwed up two teams in one season.

Kevin Garnett
Good player. Bad person.

Jerry Sloan
Committed the coaching cardinal sin: quit on his team midseason.

The 2010-11 Edgar Jones Seventh Man Award

As it is year after year after year, this season's voting on the prestigious Edgar Jones award was tighter than a toad's sphincter. The award – named after the toothless and tenacious former Cavaliers forward – goes to the reserve who simultaneously stimulates the Quicken Loans Arena crowd and concurrently contributes to the Cavaliers’ cause.

With so many Cavaliers contributing to the cause this year, it was almost impossible to pick a winner.

Daniel Gibson was his rock solid self, finishing in the Top 25 three-point shooters. Samardo Samuels got his break when Antawn Jamison went down and made the most of his golden opportunity. And 21-year-old Christian Eyenga got better before our eyes.

But this year’s award goes to Ramon Sessions, who excelled selflessly in every role. He was productive as a starter and maybe better in reserve – coming off the bench to drop 32 on the LakeShow in an exhilarating February win. Sessions did what he was asked with class and quiet confidence. He embodies what the team is about.

Boobie Gibson
Ramon Sessions
Samardo Samuels

The Nominees

Ramon Sessions

Professor Chewy's 2010-11 All-Bald Team

What does Professor Chewy – (formerly quality control at – and his annual list have in common with the accomplishments of a professional basketball team?


But the Professor – bald and beautiful himself – wears this badge of virility with great pride. And every year for the past few years, his running list includes some prominent Cavalier personnel.

Notable omissions include Larry David, James Gandolfini, Lou Gossett, Jr., Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Fred Biletnikoff, Andre Agassi, Cal Ripken, Alan Arkin, Kimbo Slice, Robert Duvall, Stanley Tucci, Hector Elizondo, Ghandi, Ed Harris, John Amos, "Hey Now!" Hank Kingsley, Ron Howard (who lets his freak flag fly), John Malkovich, David Cross and Charlie Brown.

Of course, for the past few years, Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was on this list, but as you can see, he’s gone with the old toupee like most pre-retirees do in South Beach. Wanting to look younger and more vibrant is fine, but it’s in direct conflict with Chewy's Ordinance No. 1 – “NO RUGS, NO PLUGS, NO DRUGS.”

For bolting the Cavaliers, Z probably wouldn’t have made the team anyway. But this pelt made it an easy decision.

Louis CK
Breaking Bad's
Hank Schrader
Ron Washington
JK Simmons
Woody Harrelson

The 2010-11 Golden Cajones Award

As we discussed earlier, this has been one of the most difficult seasons in the history of the franchise. And to survive it, you had to have, what Byron Scott often referred to as “cajones.” Of course, as Semih Erden can tell you, “cajones” – loosely translated in Turkish is “guts.”

Everyone in the organization showed that they had the cajones to get through this campaign with dignity – but the following five men put theirs out there when the chips were down.

Baron Davis punctuated his Cavaliers debut with a Big Apple dagger that gave Cleveland their third straight win over New York. Esquire scribe Scott Raab tormented the Heat and ESPN all year, and made a statement (in hot pink) when Miami returned on March 29. In that same game, Ryan Hollins served notice that the Cavaliers would be pushed around no more. And of course, Dan Gilbert not only fired off the most famous scathing screed in sports, but vowed to win a title before the screed's subject could in South Beach.

But the man who takes the inaugural Golden Cajones Award is Coach Byron Scott, who took the job with no assurances – and didn’t care. He built the team in his tough image. He kept the locker together through a 26-game losing streak. He never lost his cool.

And for those reasons and more, Coach Scott takes the cake.

And as winner of the award, if anyone ever says to him, “Man, you’ve got a set of brass ones!” Coach Scott can proudly respond ...

“No. They’re gold.”

Baron Davis
Went Wine and Gold all over the Big Apple.

Scott Raab
Cut this craziness into the back of his dome.

Ryan Hollins
Stood up to the Heat, who backed down.

Dan Gilbert
Fired off the font read round the world.

Byron Scott
Was more prepared for this season than we were.

The Nominees

Head Coach
Byron Scott

That is the conclusion of today’s portion of the All-Optimist Award Banquet. Hopefully everyone got enough rigatoni and creamed spinach from the buffet. And I hope – if you don’t agree with all the winners – that you at least enjoyed the presentation.

Please tune into later this week for Part II of the EIGHTH ANNUAL OPTIMIST AWARDS BANQUET– featuring my co-emcee for Day 2 …