The Optimist

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Al salaam a'alaykum, young knuckaheads! That grizzled and chiseled cabecita to your right can only mean one thing: Another utopian journey to the center of the mind.

I’m the Optimist, and before we get to the nitty-grit, I feel compelled to warn you from the outset: Today’s episode might lack the malice that some of you bloodthirsty, rapacious readers are hoping for. But don’t worry. There’ll be plenty of red meat for everyone before we call it a day.

In case you haven’t heard, LeBron James and the Miami Heat are in town.

For over 600 previous columns, he was known on these pages as “TheBron.” But unfortunately – unlike Little Luke Jackson or Sir Damon Jones – LeBron has been stripped of his catchy nickname. It’ll sting when he finds out.

It won’t sting as bad as some of the extra-strong barrages directed at LeBron in recent days. I can’t quite be part of that venom. As I’ve said, he’s neither the villain nor the savior he’s been portrayed as. And I think we can all agree on two things: 1. Twenty-five-year-old kids sometimes make crazy decisions, and 2. They like Florida.

So, for you folks who came here hoping for your Two Minutes Hate – here’s you: barking, and here’s me: wrong tree. And you’ll force me to paraphrase the great American educator, Booker T. Washington, and tell you that I will let no man drag me down so low as to make me hate him.

LeBron exercised his NBA right and he definitely didn’t take the entire team with him. But he’s still considered Public Enemy No. 1 around these parts. Maybe across the entire sports spectrum.

With the newly-despised LeBron in town, a guy like Carlos Boozer could cruise right into Tremont and take photos with his tongue stuck to the flagpole at the “Christmas Story” house. Art Modell could take a leisurely stroll through the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton – pausing to do his tripped-out Super Bowl dance without a care in the world.

But not LeBron. He’s on the S-list around Cleveland – and should be for the foreseeable future.

And just because I won’t partake in the attacks and accusations that some of my media brethren have, I have my share of beefs with the two-time MVP.

From the very beginning, LeBron created a silly schism between Akron and Cleveland when none truly existed. And it caused an unspoken unease throughout his first seven years.

In what turned out to be his final days, he brought zero intensity – and I’ll leave it at that – during money-time of the Celtic series, against a hated rival that bounced his squad from the playoffs two years earlier.

And, of course, less than two months after folding with a full-house to Boston, he taunted our city on national TV and made his ill-fated Decision – which disappointed me, more than anything.

It disappointed me that he’d rather win a Championship for a fan base that doesn’t care. It disappoints me that he’d rather play in an arena that shows up after halftime, and that’s just to see who Julio Iglesias, Jr. brought to the game. It disappoints me that he didn’t want to be The Guy where he was.

He didn’t want to do it here.

And worst of all, he now makes me root FOR the Celtics AGAINST him! That doesn’t disappoint me. It fills me with the urge to defecate.

Allow me to do so while I open the Optimist Mailbox for your viewing pleasure …


Dear Optimist,

My pappy always told me: If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it was meant to be. If it doesn’t, hunt it down and kill it. Do you think Chris Bosh is a championship-caliber power forward?

Sincerely,

Bort Stein, Esq.
Parma, OH


Bort, every time you write in, I wonder if you’ve ever had those sticky electrode things attached to you at some point in your life. But to answer your question, I do think Chris Bosh is a championship-caliber power forward.

Know what that is called, Bort? It’s called “rational thinking.” And it’s rational thinking that makes me state – for the record – I don’t think the Cavaliers will beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat tonight.

I guarantee that they will.

Get some!!
That’s right: It’s Guaranteed Win Night – just in time, as fate would have it, for the prodigal son’s return.

The Cavaliers aren’t going to beat the Heat by stopping LeBron. Nobody really stops LeBron. In fact, I see Dwyane Wade having a decent outing and the aforementioned Chris Bosh doing so, as well.

Where Lord Byron Scott’s squad strikes is with their low-post grasshopper, Anderson Varejao, who utterly schools his sensei, Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Yes, Boobie Gibson goes off and yes, Antawn Jamison notches season-highs, but tonight’s game-changing matchup – surprisingly enough – turns into a battle of the gargantuas.

As you know, I’ve sworn off statistics and finals scores, so I’ll just predict that whatever numbers Z puts up, the Wild Thing nearly doubles them. Anderson dominates the very real estate that his mentor once owned. And his play in the final minutes clinches one of the biggest wins this season.

No justice,
no peace.
A savage tan might take some city-miles off the women on South Beach, but it don’t work for NBA centers. And a team playing together with something to prove is tough to beat at home. Having 20,562 rabid rock-and-roll machines at your disposal don’t hurt.

I know you’ll be ready, Cleveland.

You don’t need no national bloviator lecturing you how to behave. I know you’ll stay classy. I know these guys like Greg Doyel think they’re looking out for us, and we appreciate it. But unless you have a mouse in your pocket, please stop with the “we” and the “us.” Wherever you’re from, you don’t know sports pain – and certainly not ours.

We’ll be on our best behavior. But win or lose – this is our night, Cleveland.

And unlike LeBron’s new home, the fans at The Q don’t need a two-page pamphlet that tells them how to “Fan Up.” Clevelanders already know how to “Fan Up.” Ask that eight-year-old punk in the Mark Sanchez jersey.

When those 20,562 fans at The Q – and the billions of Cavalier fans across the wide, wide world of sports watch the game tonight – they will quickly recognize that there is more effort from the fellas in Wine and Gold on this Thursday night than the last time No. 23 was on that floor in May.

And that’s kind of tragic.

LeBron goes home unhappy and the Cavaliers board the Team Bus for seven of the next eight. In the end, Thursday’s three-point win over the Heat is just another Wine and Gold win – albeit an extremely tasty one.

Peace be with you, Cavallieros. The owner of my team predicted an NBA Championship before tonight’s opponent does. And that title’s not gonna win itself.

That means you dummkopfs and I need to…

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Yours truly,
The Optimist


You can follow The Optimist and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsOptimist.