The Optimist

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Feliz Navidad from the ATL, knuckaheads! It’s me, the People’s Champion – known in certain circles up north as “Optimist.”

“Feliz Navidad” is español for “Merry Christmas” and I want to wish it to you from the bottom of my heart.

So, just to get it out of the way, we’re not going to work ourselves into a lather over the whole Bill O’Reilly “War on Christmas” crap.

I celebrate Christmas on accounta I’m a Catholic and we believe it’s little baby Jesus’ birthday. But it’s OK if you’re not and you don’t. Our masses are pretty boring, anyway. So whatever you’re celebrating: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus. Even if it’s just a half-day on Friday and a nice Saturday off – from everyone in the Optimist family to you and yours … Get Some!

As you can see, I’ve decorated today’s column with a few festive holiday photos of some wee ones delighting on Santa Claus’ lap. I remember, as a young pup, Santa could make my brother poop his little pampers in about a second-and-a-half. He didn’t even have to squeeze him that hard.

If I could sit on Santa’s lap without crying or dropping the old dirty bomb, I’d ask for him to do something about this fakakta month of December – where the Wine and Gold have lost all but one outing and the city has run out of Christmas Ale.

Look, Santa. Cleveland and the Cavaliers have been really nice this year. Did you see Daniel Gibson treating families to free stuff at Target on Sunday morning? Or the fellas visiting the Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s Hospital? I mean, if anyone’s been naughty this year, it’s you-know-who and his Lithuanian buddy down in Florida. I know St. Nick gets ESPN up in the North Pole.

So, if you’re up there listening, Santa … All I want for Christmas is that you let the Cleveland Cavaliers win tonight here in Atlanta, and then win every other game for the rest of this season.

I realize that no team has ever run off 54-straight regular season wins heading into the Playoffs, but I’m hoping for one of those Christmas miracle-type things. Jane Seymour told me to keep my heart open.

Is it a tall order? Sure it is. So, we’ll work on the first part in just a second, Big Red.

First, let’s look at my mailbag, which is usually filled with thought-provoking basketball dispatches. Not little bedwetting half-pints asking for Dave the Funky Monkey.


I miss you.


Columbus, OH

Steven, thanks for reading and writing in. And I miss you, too, I think.

But I'm here for you now. I know it’s been a difficult season for all of us. The Cavaliers have been trying to turn that corner. Mo Williams is distributing the ball as well as anyone in the league. Anderson Varejao is putting up monster rebounding numbers. What is the missing ingredient?!

In my opinion, it’s Atlanta’s very own J.J. Hickson – the Baby Bull.

In this season’s only previous meeting with the Hawks, J.J. looked like the player behind that nickname – with a 31-point outburst at The Q. Since then, the former first rounder has had an up and down season.

But I see the hometown Hawks stirring up something in the Baby Bull. You saw the video on – he’s been following the Hawks since the Jason Terry Era. Getting up for a team that stirs up those kind of primordial juices will be no problem.

(Tough to blame
this kid.)
What I see on Wednesday is J.J. entering the game late in the first quarter, and – as if his mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought, careening through a cosmic vapor of invention – the Princeton Offense avails itself to him.

By the time Atlanta knows what hit it, Hickson has the visiting Cavaliers up two touchdowns – dominating in the low-post like he did in early November. Up-and-under moves, jumpers from the elbow, alley-oop throwdowns. The Baby Bull does a bit of everything on the Wednesday before Christmas.

After leading the Cavaliers to the impressive double-digit win at Philips Arena, J.J. and his teammates fly home to frigid Cleveland, where they double-dog dare his arse to lick a flagpole. Team trainer, Max Benton, prepares some Neosporin™ and gauze.

If my calculations are correct, that outcome would give our beloved Cavaliers two wins out of their last three outings. That would get them moving in the right direction and it would buy Santa Claus some time to start making good on my wish. I want 53 more wins, fat man!

You astute readers notice that I didn’t ask Santa for a Browns victory over Ray Lewis and the hated Baltimore Ravens. That’s because I already know the Browns are going to win that game.

How do I know that? Because they’re the Browns – and losing is just what we’ll be expecting them to do.

They’re crafty little Brown devils like that. And I won’t waste Santa’s valuable time on them. All I want for Christmas is my beloved Cavaliers to get back on track. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Have a safe and happy Holiday Season, y’all! Have a blast and enjoy your loved ones.

And please be careful if you’re having a cup or two of holiday cheer. As I’ve cautioned before, as cool as it looks on the TV commercial, it’s a terrible idea to fill your car up to the steering wheel with gin or your motorcycle helmet with a cold brew. Pull a stunt like that and the Po Po will have you in the backseat faster than you can say “Mr. Jing-a-ling.”

Call a cab. Tomorrow Morning You will thank Last Night You. And both of you guys will be able to enjoy a nice white Christmas and that 54-game Cavs win streak Santa’s bringing me.

See you on the other side, sluggers. Until then, please continue to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Shine on,
The Optimist