The Optimist

by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor
Shalom, young’ns. I’m an Optimist, by nature and by trade.

What went down on Tuesday night at The Q was an abomination in the eyes of both God and Man, and there’s really no need to rehash it in detail.

Cavalier fans, I’d like to try and predict what’s going to happen in Game 6 on Thursday night in Boston. But it’s obvious that – like most of us, including both teams – I have no clue what’s about to unfold tonight on the parquet.

This has been one fakakta series. And I’m man enough to admit when I’ve been licked.

Instead, I decided to pour my heart out – along with a couple of my favorite Junior Optimists – in the old-fashioned form of the Open Letter

To the Cavaliers,

Do you think they’re indifferent to you in Boston? They’re not. They hate you.

You’re in the way. That’s the way they see you.

When the Team Bus rolls into the Garden at around 5:45 p.m., you’ll have no friends here. Everyone who you can trust, everyone who’s on your side, just got off the bus with you.

The national media is rooting against you. Hard. The sharks are circling and they can smell blood. For them, losing to the Celtics has become a better story. And that’s how they see you.

So while the world focuses on the window dressing, I hope you’ll focus on carving up the Celtics like you did in Game 3, when Delone West was assertive, Antawn Jamison was active and the Diesel ran roughshod. I’m willing to live with J.J.’s defensive lapses if he’s forcing the issue, offensively.

This is not a one-man team. It’s the deepest team in the Eastern Conference. In Game 3, you made them adjust to you. And they never did.

I’m not asking for a miracle; I’m just asking for you to play like yourselves.

Optimist …

I feel like I felt when I was 17, and Kelly Jo told me she thought of me more as a “friend.” You know – that sudden realization. Something you believed in was less than you thought it was only a few seconds before.

You’re never the same once some chick lays the “friend” talk on you.

I didn't shave off my playoff beard this morning. I don’t plan on it, either. I will forever be a Cavs fan. That said, I don't know that I feel the same about them after Tuesday’s loss. But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying REAL HARD.

Columbia, SC

P.S. And do you know that I took that goofy broad to Sea World and everything? I’m not kidding – SEA WORLD! Who takes a "friend" to Sea World? Would you go to Sea World with me? Fat chance, right?

To Celtic fans,

You have us on the ropes. You definitely do.

And I’ll go one step further – after a firsthand look at what you bring to the arena, your reputation is well-earned. You Chowds love the Celtics and you hate everyone else. I love that.

So I’m not rooting for you to put the Cavaliers down tonight while you have the chance. But I’m suggesting it.

Sometimes, but not always, once a team gets a second life, the floodgates open up. My beloved Indians had your Red Sox down 3-1 in the 2007 ALCS, and once you wriggled off the hook, the Tribe didn’t know whether to crap or wind its watch. I think the Orlando Magic were down 3-2 to your very Celtics way back in 2009.

Some pragmatic Boston fans – like we Clevelanders – recognize pending heartbreak when it’s on the way. And with the NHL’s Bruins headed towards an unexpected Game 7, sphincters got just a little bit tighter around Beantown.

Put us away if you have the chance tonight, Celtic fans. The Cavaliers won’t drop three straight at home.

Oh, and one more thing …

Little Spike Lee is rooting for your Celtics, and he hates you more than I do.

Dear Prophetic Human,

We all know in our hearts that the Celtics will be vanquished. TheBron will rise up wielding a basketball like the mighty Hammer of Thor and rain destruction upon our enemies. This is just a test from above: those who lose faith in our time of need shall forever be branded with terrible shame of being a "fair-weather fan."

But those of us – like you little brother Optimist – will be rewarded with the phrase that shall make the infidels tremble: "I told you so."

Let this be a warning to all who oppose us: Surrender now, or TheBron will rain thunder and lightning down upon your courts. He will sow chaos in your minds, and leave the bitter taste of disappointment in your mouths, and finally, he will steal all hope of a Championship from your hearts. Those who come after you will suffer a far worse fate.

Remember … Deserve victory my fellow Cavs fans.

Optimist Prime
Believeland, OH

To TheBron,

See that photo of you to the bottom left? NBAE’s finest photographer, Nathaniel S. Butler, took that shot of you last Friday night while you were laying waste to the Celtics.

The guy in that photo – that’s the guy we want you to be tonight. We know that you’re unselfish and that’s one of the things we love about you. But tonight in Boston: Be Selfish.

Don’t let the game come to you tonight. Take the game – knowingly, and with malice.

You never, ever, ever have two bad games in a row, and we know you won’t tonight. In fact, tonight I think you’re going to eat lightning and crap thunder. And I hope you grow incandescent with rage from the opening tip. You’re going to be the guy in this photo.

Drop the daisy-cutter, homes.

You’re better than everyone. Why would you allow anyone to beat you?

Dear Cavalier fans,

You’ve had your Game 5 hangover. Now, gird up and get over it. Cleveland sports fans are known as a lot of things: “passionate,” “faithful,” “rambunctious.” I can even accept “stupid.”

But one adjective I cannot accept is “spoiled.”

I was as disgusted as the next guy with Tuesday’s loss. But booing the squad early in the third quarter – down a dozen points – filled me with the urge to defecate. And following Game 5, I’ve gotten one nasty, sad-sack e-mail after another. One reader just wrote “CAVS SUCK!” over and over again, like Bart Simpson.

Nobody likes a Nervous Nellie. The Cavaliers need your support; not your cynicism. You’ll have plenty of time to be cynical around the pool this summer.


It’s easy to be a fan during an 11-game win streak in January. It’s tough being one, down 3-2 to the Celtics in May.

So, anyone who wants off the bandwagon before the Cavaliers tip off the biggest game of this season – and maybe the franchise – on Thursday night: Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

As for the rest of you, gird thy loins for a good one. The Wine and Gold will win: 93-84, I think. And the floodgates will open.

The Cavaliers can’t win both games tonight. They can only win Game 6.

I’ll see you back in the homeland on Sunday afternoon. If you believe that, you’ve already agreed to …

Choose faith, Cleveland

Sincerely yours,
The Optimist