The Optimist

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Al salaam a'alaykum, Cavallieros! It’s me, the Optimist – that semi-shaggy son of a pup pictured to your right.

Of course, those whiskers can only mean one thing: that the 2010 NBA Playoffs are finally upon us! And it’s time for our beloved Cavaliers to begin kicking some serious arse.

Four teams and 16 wins stand between Cleveland and the Larry O’Brien Trophy’s bulbous head, beginning with our familiar First Round foe – the Chicago Bulls, who roll into town for a Saturday showdown at The Q.

The Cavaliers and Bulls have faced each other in the postseason several times before, back in the 20th century. In the late-80s and early-90s, it seemed like the two Central Division foes had a predestined date every postseason – like the Cavs and the Wizards from a few years back. The only problem was: back then, we were the Wizards.

Taking on these new-age Bulls in the postseason will be entering uncharted waters.

Will the Baby Bulls be as brash as they were in the regular season? What will the United Center be like? Will Chicagoans harass me via the Optimist Mailbox? If I pull a knife, will they pull a gun? If I send one of theirs to the hospital, will they send one of mine to the morgue? Is THAT the Chicago way?!

If A.C.'s right, we're gonna need
a clean-up on
Aisle 5.
And on top of that, did Mr. Cavalier – the esteemed Austin Carr – actually claim that Bulls center, Joakim Noah, had “diarrhea of the mouth”?

I believe we will answer these, and several other questions in the
coming days.

Today, along with predicting a predictable Game I victory, I would like to get you fine readers prepared for the entire postseason with a little Playoff Home Companion – featuring all the tools any self-respecting Junior Optimist might need as we embark on this kooky journey.

I’m not looking past Game I and I’m not looking past the Bulls. I just want you people to be well-equipped for a prolonged Playoff run. I have total faith in you, Cleveland! If we do this postseason right, we could get our own “CSI.”

Now let’s begin …

The Fearing of the Beard – A tradition like no other, the growing, and subsequent fearing of the Playoff Beard™ dates back – as readers of this column know – to the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln began growing his rally whiskers in April of 1860, when the Civil War began, and didn’t shave it until his North squad rallied for the win in March of 1865.

If the Playoff Beard™ was good enough for the Great Emancipator, it’s good enough for you.

But naturally, every postseason there are several exceptions to the rule – illustrated in the following letter …


I have a confession to make. Last year, I was proudly sporting, growing and grooming a playoff beard and the Cavs were sailing. However, when the ECF and the Magic came around, I was forced to shave in order to start a job. We all know what happened next. I claim full responsibility for the championship drought!

So, my question is this. I have a friend who has no job. Can I designate him as my playoff beard proxy? Or should I simply quit my job for the playoffs, and live off popcorn residue at The Q?

Kent, OH

As you can see, Cavalier fans take great ownership in the mojo that comes with their pogonotrophy, which, as I recently learned is “beard growing.” (Pogonotomy is the shaving of your beard, and as we now know, is the reason that the Cavaliers fell to the Magic in last year’s ECF.)

Of course, there are all kinds of ways to show your support – from muttonchops to a Fu Manchu.

This postseason, we will once again try to think of how our foxy female friends can contribute. (Playoff Pigtails?) If any one of my legion of female fans have any suggestions, please write the Mailbox and let me know.

Little Itty-Bitty Jim Mora – Look at him. He’s so tiny and cute that you almost forget the ferocity in which he delivered the unforgettable line (three times).

As we gird for each outing, little eight-pound, six-ounce Jim Mora is there, not-so-subtly reminding us that these are the Playoffs.

TheBron’s Angry-ometer – I have often theorized that the angrier TheBron gets, the better he plays. I stood not more than five paces from TheBron after practice on Thursday night, and I can tell you that he’s already at 2.8.

That’s because there is bad blood between these two teams – specifically Numeral 23 and the aforementioned Joakim Noah. And I can tell you that the MVP is pre-angered for this matchup. Down in Bath Township, little Bryce and TheBron, Jr. best hide they NerfHoop™ – because the well-rested King is looking like he’s ready to crush anything and everything.

One would have to have a brain the size of a brussel sprout to call out TheBron while he’s hovering around a 2.8. But that’s what some members of the Bulls did leading up to the postseason.

And on Saturday, the Bulls get exactly what they wished for – TheBron, and plenty of him.

The young King explodes for 16 first-quarter points, setting the tone for Saturday’s contest – and perhaps the next three. Chicago pulls to within five at intermission, but the Wine and Gold give them a taste of the Diesel in the third.

Shaq shakes off the rust in a big way – netting nine of his 16 points in the third, as the Cavaliers increase their lead to a dozen.

In the final quarter, the Bulls never get within double-digits of Cleveland, and the Cavaliers run away with Game I – 109-99 – to take an early lead in the series.

After a quick jaw-jacking session with the local and national media, the Cavaliers head home to their colossal homes and their beautiful families to savor the victory. The Bulls return to their Team Motel and spend the day’s remaining hours sulking around Tower City.

So let it be written; so let it be done.

That’s all for today, homeboys and girls. We got a long way to go and a short time to get there. Get your gird on and get ready to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Your pal,
The Optimist