The Optimist

by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor
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Shalom, slump-shouldered sons and daughters of the Cuyahoga. It’s me, the Optimist – checking in from wintery Miami, FLA.

I didn’t use an exclamation point in today’s open, because the way our squad’s playing, we just don’t deserve one. But that’ll be all the self-flagellation for today, friends. We didn’t come to Miami to beat ourselves up. We came here to beat up the Miami Heat.

But before we salivating dogs get to the One formerly known as Chosen, there’s a little losing streak that we probably should talk about.

I feel your pain, knuckaheads.

Getting dropped by triple-figures against heavyweights like the hated Celtics or even the Oklahoma City Thunder is one thing. Getting stoot-slapped by the Sixers and Timberwolves is wholly another. Sloppy, uninspired play. And, at times, even Coach questioned the squad’s effort. And that dude can’t abide a lack of effort.

It’s as ugly a run as I can remember as a Cavaliers fan or employee. Squads that the Wine and Gold had been thumping for years were returning the favor. But tonight, it’s the Wine and Gold’s chance for retribution.

How do we intend to do that? Miami’s loaded with the triumvirate of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and the dastardly LeBron James – who dropped 38 points on his former pals on Dec. 2, then supposably came over to our bench and called us names.

LeBron was already Public Enemy No. 1 around Cleveland before that night. After going off in a 28-point blowout, our Cheese Index went to 11.

I personally predict we’ll get over him sooner than people think, and tonight’s win will be a huge first step in the process.

Maybe LeBron really never was one of us. Maybe he was too big-time for Cleveland, often referring to himself in third person – or, as it’s known in NBA circles, “illeism.” Maybe that’s how they do down in Akron. Maybe they all refer to themselves in third person, i.e. “Mayor Don Plusquellic has to do what’s best for Mayor Don Plusquellic and his family” … and so forth.

But that’s not what us plain folk in Cleveland do. LeBron’s really good at basketball, but rampant illeism like that should be reserved for all-time giants of the game, like Bob Dole, Salvador Dali and Kenny Powers.

LeBron is the hot girlfriend that Cleveland has got to get over. And beating Miami’s arse on Wednesday will go a long way in getting over her. Him. Whatever.

How that will come to fruition, forthwith. First, a long overdue look into the Optimist Mailbox, which mostly consisted of warm holiday greetings, like this one from the Windy City …



LEBRON JUST (expletive deleted) UP YOUR WHOLE TEAM.

James Cole
Chicago, IL

Wait a minute! That wasn’t a warm holiday wish at all!! It was some jerk from Chicago cussing up a blue streak.

James, that’s some harsh language and, moreover, it’s downright incorrect. LeBron didn’t (expletive deleted) us up on December 2. We (expletive deleted) ourselves up on Dec. 2. That night, the Cavaliers got lost in the big picture. And, since then, they’ve lost their way.

Sadly, it takes them nearly two weeks – and 33 minutes into tonight’s game – to rediscover their focus. But at that illuminating point, with Miami up by double-digits, Daniel Gibson buries his season-high sixth trey of the game as the Cavaliers bench goes berserk.

In the Dec. 2 game, I predicted that Anderson Varejao would double Zydrunas Ilgauskas’s numbers, but I underestimated the Wild Thing. Instead, he quadrupled Z in boards – 8-2 – and points – 4-nil. Expect more quadrupling on Wednesday.

I'm just crazy enough to do it.

In fact, according to my calculations, after Antawn Jamison’s 15-point fourth quarter, the Wine and Gold once again sup from the sweet nectar of victory and have a quiet celebration in their locker room. The Heat, conversely, retire quietly to their palatial lockers, blubbering like a bunch of John Boehners as their nine-game win streak crumbles to the ground.

I don’t do final scores no more, but I know a Guaranteed Win when I see one. And I’d bet the farm on this one, people. If you don’t own a farm, call a Quicken Loans representative, buy one, and bet it on this game.

As far as LeBron goes, I’m just about over the whole thing. As a Cavalier, he was my favorite athlete of all-time. And yet he was young enough to be my son. When I sit back and think about that, I find it profoundly silly.

Sure, it was a great run while it lasted. But we still have our city and basketball team and they have uniforms and everything. We still have solid guys who want to play here and if they don’t, Chris Grant and Lord Byron Scott will give them the old ‘don’t-let-the-door-hit-ya-where-the-good-Lord-split-ya’ speech. And we’ll get new Cavaliers.

No one man can break me down and take my hope. Certainly not a 25-year-old illeist from Akron.

I don’t hate LeBron. I don’t think he has bad intentions. He didn’t burn the place down or take hostages when he left. He didn’t call us “obtuse.” And – being a big Cowboys shill – he probably wasn’t behind the death of “Dandy” Don Meredith …

… as far as we know.

You guys can rip him all you want. And that’s completely fine with me. But as a guy who prefers to kill with kindness, about the biggest insult I’ll lay on our former small forward is that he looks ridiculous with that new mouthpiece. Yes, I realize that’s a Miami Heat logo in the center, but it still makes him look like Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber.”

I ask Z, he’s got more fashion sense …

He and LeBron are the enemy now. That was their Decision.

And it’ll probably hurt them both when their old team upsets the apple cart on Wednesday night. But that’s the Faustian bargain they made by bolting the Best Location in the Nation.

That’s almost all for today, y’uns. Just let me leave you nerds with one last thought …

The great Joe Tait is on the mend. Mike Snyder, Jim Chones, and my road dog, Jeff Phelps have all done a wonderful job behind the mic. But once our Hall of Famer gets his pipes warmed up, it’ll be a whole new show.

And once we get our Voice back, we’ll have no choice but to …

Choose faith, Cleveland

Su hermano,
The Optimist