The Optimist

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Bonjour, fellow lovers of sport! Today’s missive comes from tropical Cleveland, Ohio, where the locals call me “Optimist.”

Permission to speak freely?

Who the cuss gave TheBron a 3rd Place vote in the Most Valuable Player balloting? Third place?! Behind who?!!

After all these years, there are still some infidels out there who refuse to recognize the odd and wonderful superpowers of Numeral 23. Luckily, 116 out of 123 media members did manage to keep their wits about them long enough to recognize Cleveland’s young superstar as the preeminent player in the NBA.

On Sunday, at the J.A.R. in Akron, TheBron was once again recognized for his on-court achievements, with his friends, family and teammates at his side. He thanked everyone – including a packed gym of Akronites – for the honor. He even picked up a shiny new 2011 Kia Sorento for the effort.

Twenty bucks says
he can juggle

"I'll take that
TheBron left with an MVP Kia last season, too, but haters should realize that there’s nothing wrong with the best player on Planet Earth having more than one car. During the presser, an unnamed national scribe (and full-time wisenheimer) quipped that TheBron would use it as a shoe closet – which is preposterous.

I’ve said this many times before, but it’s important to realize that we’re actually living in history. We really are witnesses. There won’t be another one like TheBron any more than they’ll be another Jimi Hendrix or J.D. Salinger. He burns for a Championship like we burn. He hates the teams we hate.

Ultimately skilled and cerebral. Durable. Affable. Focused. On a nightly basis, TheBron does things that makes me want to go out and have some grandkids, just to tell them about him.

But enough about my grandkids. We’ve got another date with those mangy Celtics on Monday night – Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Right after this here letter, that is …

(not him)
Hey Optimist,

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit I have trouble growing a playoff beard. But I was wondering since I kinda need a haircut if I should just not cut my hair instead to make up for it.

Kenny Smith (not the guy on TNT)
Salt Lake City, UT

Kenny Smith, first of all, thanks for reading and writing in. Let me just say that if you did that, it would be absolutely the weakest Playoff Beard™ effort to date.

But that’s OK.

I’ll keep saying this until I’m blue in my bushy face: Whether you’re growing an Amish beard or a handlebar mustache or just a pair of sweet sideburns like Tom Jones, any support is welcome.

You’re still destined to have a pretty sweet Afro when the Cavaliers’ run is done, Kenny Smith. Because the Good Guys plan on playing through this month and beyond. And it could get ugly along the way.

Take Saturday night’s slugfest, for example. The Celtics were hammering away at TheBron in the first half, and Shaq nearly gave Rajon Rondo a wood-nap later in the fourth. That’s good, hard Playoff basketball. And neither team has a problem with that.

After a sluggish two-and-a-half quarters, the Cavaliers ran away late on Saturday – using Mo Williams’ big third and TheBron’s monster fourth to take Game 1.

So what will the Celtics have up they sleeves for Game 2? Thumb-yanking? Crotch-elbowing?

That, I cannot say. I’m in the business of accurately predicting Cavaliers performances, and on Monday night, I see Mo Williams crushing everything in sight.

That’s right – Mo’s got the taste for it now. He’s got dunking fever and now that he’s gone to the rack, he can’t ever go back.

Mo’s first jam comes off an alley-oop from Jamario Moon. His second, a baseline facial a la John Starks.

But Monday’s matchup is about more than highlight reel dunks. It’s about two teams ultimately playing textbook Eastern Conference defense – with each team limiting the other to poor shooting first halves.

There's more where this came from.
The coagulated crowd at The Q didn’t come to see Eastern Conference defense, however. They came to see the Most Valuable Player smushing Celtics, and that’s just what they get in the second half.

With Boston again clinging to a slight lead in the third, TheBron goes absolutely berserk – netting 19 of the Cavaliers’ next 25 points, grabbing eight rebounds in a seven-minute stretch and threading the needle on an astounding assist to Mo Williams, who goes 360 to crush home the virtual game-winner over Rasheed Wallace and Big Baby Davis with 2:10 to play.

The Cavaliers clamp down in the final two minutes and hold on for the big 91-84 win in
Game 2.

Cleveland inches that much closer to the Promised Land – ten wins away after tonight’s dramatic victory.

We have the best player. We have the best team. It’s all about taking care of business now.

We’ll readjourn for Game 3 from the belly of the beast – Beantown, Massachusetts – on Friday. You may be saying goodbye to the Celtics for the final time this year on Monday night, so I implore you to be polite. That, and to …

Keep the faith, Salt Lake City

Your pal,
The Optimist