The Optimist

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Konichiwa, fellow travelers. I’m an Optimist and this weekend report comes to you from the center cut of the Sunshine State – Orlando, FLA – home of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Dumbo, Bambi, Pluto, Snow White, Simba and Stan Van Gundy.

Of course, that’s not to intimate that Orlando is all about Disney World and Stan Van. They have a jaw-dropping new basketball arena, they have Universal Studios and a SeaWorld. Not to mention a 110-acre Gatorland® – where Cavs forward Luke Harangody wrestled a 9' 6" (3 m) alligator into submission after Friday’s shootaround, just to entertain the locals.

Before we get to the myriad topics of today’s column – including the Cavaliers back-to-back against Orlando and Dallas, a new Opti-List™, a Super Bowl prediction and a Moment of Silence – we simply must address the 400-lb. gorilla in the room. (Is it a 400-lb. elephant or a gorilla? I like gorilla better.) Either way, it’s big and smells bad.

I’ll let our friend from Drew Carey Country explain …

Dear Optimist,

Are you aware, are you cognizant of the fact, that the Cavaliers are within striking distance of the 8th playoff seed, with exactly 30.3% of the season gone?!! No, I don’t suspect you would be, Mr. so-called Optimist. Last we heard from you, you were still trying to play yourself into shape during the preseason.

Daily, I find myself mocked by your link on the homepage, suggesting I look at all your wonderful off-season observations. Talk about resting on your laurels!

Wake up, Optimist! Are you ready to wake up!?!?

I think someone ended up with a bad case of lockout legs, not to mention a troubling dose of cotton balls. You have all the symptoms! Coach Scott will not put up with this! Dan Gilbert will not put up with this! Heck, he’s the owner of the team, and he still has time to Twitter about everything from Kyrie Irving’s heroics to a lack of Charmin in the executive washroom!! And we hear nary a word from the Optimist. Nary!

I wash my hands and feet of you!


Bort Stein, Esq.
Parma, OH

p.s. Go Cavs!

You have me dead-to-rights, Mssr Stein. I have been a deadbeat diviner this season. I have no excuses, other than to vow that I’ll be more consistent moving forward. I apologize to you and any other readers I may have let down.

But this column isn’t about me. It’s about the Cavaliers organization and our constant quest for perfection – up to and including stockpiling the Charmin in the executive washroom.

And, yes, I am aware that the Cavaliers – a team that, one year ago, was mired in the longest losing streak in pro sports history – is threatening a run at the postseason. After one month, the Wine and Gold have the 8th-seeded Bucks well within their crosshairs and the New York Knicks in their rear-view mirror.

But we’ve got a long way to go before we start growing our Playoff Beards back. Three months to be exact.

So let’s focus on this weekend’s opponents and start from there.

The Magic just snapped an ugly four-game losing streak and it looked like trouble was brewing in Orlando. But the fact is that they still have the best big man in the business and he’s helped them beat the Cavaliers on six straight occasions. Plus, they just signed Ish Smith.

I didn’t even mention that Orlando features one of the league’s top coaches, the aforementioned Stan Van Gundy.

In this columnist’s opinion, Stan Van Gundy doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves. The man has a 334-179 career record. He’s led the Magic to three straight Southeast Division titles, won 50 games in four straight seasons, reached the East Finals twice and the NBA finals once. He can work the X’s and O’s as easily as he can work his grating voice to drive Dick Bavetta and Joey Crawford to the brink of madness.

My theory on his lack of respect is that he’s too easily dismissed simply as “eye candy” – an NBA pretty boy, more concerned with finely-tailored suits than wins and losses.

It’s hard not to come to that conclusion when you check out today’s Opti-List™ – Stan Van’s Greatest NBA Poses.

The camera loves that guy!! And what range …

The Opti-List™
Stan Van's Greatest NBA Poses

Stan Van Gundy is a winner. And the short-handed Cavaliers – sans Anthony Parker, Boobie Gibson and Tristan Thompson – will have their work cut out for them on Friday night in the Magic Kingdom.

It doesn’t get any easier when the Wine and Gold return to Cleveland on Saturday. In fact, you could say it gets much more difficult.

But that certainly doesn’t mean we have to be bad hosts when the World Champion Dallas Mavericks roll into town.

In fact, I would personally like to extend the World Champs – who, if I’m not mistaken, knocked off the Miami Heat in last year’s Finals – every courtesy as NBA visitors. And I think you Clevelanders should do the same.

If you see Dirk Nowitzki or Jason Terry walking around Tower City, offer to buy them a medium Orange Julius or a hot pretzel. At the very least, welcome them to our humble city and congratulate them on a job well done.

Later that night, you can cheer on our beloved Cavaliers as they gear up to smote Rick Carlisle’s squad at The Q. The Mavericks will also be on the second half of a back-to-back – taking on a tough Indiana Pacers team on Friday evening in Dallas.

The keys to the Cavaliers winning this weekend, as usual, will be an aggressive attitude (for four quarters) from The Kid, continued great play from the Wild Thing in the middle and a solid, third scoring option – be it Ramon Sessions, Antawn Jamison or Alonzo Gee.

Rounding out the weekend is the great American holiday – Super Bowl Sunday!

Gambling is illegal, but if it weren’t, I’d take the Giants with the points – conceding that the Patriots will win the toss and lead at halftime. Amhad Bradshaw will score the first touchdown, Hakeem Nicks will be the MVP, the National Anthem will last less than two minutes, Madonna will wear fishnets and the Gatorade™ bath Tom Coughlin gets after the game will be orange.

Now that the sporting events have been taken care of, we do have some sad news to deal with before I send you knuckaheads home for the weekend.

That news is, of course, the passing of the great Don Cornelius, founder and host of “Soul Train” – which became the longest-running, first-run nationally syndicated show in television history. For 35 years, Cornelius’ brainchild was beamed into millions of households, including mine, and taught young, white dudes like me how to dance – or at least how you’re supposed to.

Cornelius, a former Marine and cop in Chicago, was 75 when he joined the big Soul Train Line in the sky this past week.

As we honor an American icon, please closeth thy blowers and removeth thy hats and or hairpieces for this well-deserved Moment of Silence™

Thank you.

Here endeth the lesson, friendoes. Enjoy this weekend’s sports cornucopia – beginning with a hard-earned win on Friday night in Orlando.

I hope to see you on Saturday night at The Q. Come out and watch The Kid work his magic. Watch Andy give every ounce of energy and Alonzo Gee’s powerful aerial acrobatics. Or just come check out our flaming scoreboard.

Either way, you can’t go wrong on the corner of Huron and Ontario.

I’ll check back with you soon, I promise. In the meantime – as always, in parting, I wish you love, peace and SOUL!

Keep the faith, Parma

Shine On,
The Optimist