The Optimist

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Good morning, starshines. The earth says hello. You are Cavalier fans. I am the Big O.

As most of you know, this column is traditionally a secular, nondenominational affair. Other than Boston Celtic fans, people of all creeds, colors and religious backgrounds are welcome. So I hope no one will be offended if I was to wish all y’all a Happy Easter – even you filthy Pistonistas.

It may look more like Christmas morning out there, but trust me – this is most definitely the day that my Christian brethren and I celebrate the resurrection of our God’s son.

Children decorate eggs and eat exorbitant amounts of chocolate and jelly beans. Men wear their nice threads to church and women routinely wear hats, like at the Kentucky Derby. Easter also marks the final day of Lent, so if you gave up a bad habit for these last 40 days, I strongly recommend picking it right back up on Monday morning.

Since Uncle Dave didn’t put the Wine and Gold to work on Christmas Day this season, he compensated by scheduling them on Easter Sunday – and against the despised Detroit Pistons, no less.

No matter. Name the holiday, and you can believe that our beloved Cavaliers will be ready to get it on with their Eastern Conference enemies – exspecially with six games to go and three games to make up in the standings.

The No. 1 seed and the Central Division crown aren’t the only reasons the Cavaliers have come to the Motor City with an ax to grind, however.

We Cavaliers – and Clevelanders, in general – consider ourselves a tolerant and forgiving people. We can handle the fact that the Pistons knocked us out of the postseason last spring or that Rasheed Wallace busted Z’s melon open. After all, the NBA is a hard-knock life.

But one thing we cannot – and will not – abide is the brazen behavior of certain Pistons’ employees towards our own. And recently, it was brought to my attention that that’s exactly what transpired during Game 7 of last year’s Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in Detroit.

Tora's the ultimate PR babe, but someone's gotta teach this kid some manners.
You see, unlike the Cavaliers, the Pistons need two mascots to get their crowd fired up – Hooper and his tiny henchman, Mini Hooper.

Now I’ve got no beef with Hooper, who – as far as I can tell – behaves like a complete gentleman during Piston contests at the Palace. But Mini Hooper decided that he was mascot enough to make a move on our little PR diva and basketball communications assistant, Tora Vinci.

I realize that Tora is easily the foxiest PR person in the entire NBA. She’s smart, sassy and basketball savvy. What tiny mascot wouldn’t want to take a shot at her?

But she’s OUR basketball communications assistant, and we look after her like a little sister. And during the heat of a seven-game series to decide who goes to the Eastern Conference Finals, our sensitivities are greatly increased. The fact that this costumed Cassanova took his shot during Game 7 make matters that much more appalling.

Mini-Hooper – have you no shame?!

I’m sorry, but this transgression will cost the Pistons a pound of flesh on Sunday – starting with TheBron’s massive 17-point first quarter.

Cleveland leads by six after one period and by seven at the half. But Detroit battles back behind the sharp-shooting of Rip Hamilton, who cans four three-pointers in the third quarter. Rasheed Wallace goes for nine points and eight boards after intermission, and the Pistons re-take the lead heading into the final quarter.

The Palace is electric as the Pistons extend their advantage to six points with two minutes to play. But Splasha Pavlovic cuts their lead in half with a bomb from the left corner. After a steal by Larry Huge, TheBron brings Cleveland to within a point with 26 seconds to play.

Chauncey Billups’ runner is tipped by Anderson Varejao, who grabs the loose ball and calls timeout.

The Cavaliers break the huddle and TheBron takes the in-bounds pass with 11 seconds remaining. He works his way past Antonio McDyess and feeds a wide-open Drew Gooden, who sinks the baseline jumper at the buzzer to give the Cavaliers the dramatic 88-87 victory – Cleveland’s second straight in Auburn Hills.

The Cavaliers celebrate briefly before mounting the Team Bus, bound for Cleveland.

The squad is able to get out of the Motor City safely without the use of the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle simply because it’s a widely known fact that a predisposed Ted Nugent always spends the holiday bow-hunting the Easter Bunny.

The Wine and Gold get a well-deserved three-day break after drawing within two games of Detroit.

You folks can take that time to rest those loins, which I’ve had you girding like madmen and women since the All-Star Break. Enjoy the time off, but please realize that, come Thursday night when the Nets roll into town, I’ll need you right back on the front lines – locked, loaded and ready to …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

Your pal,
The Optimist

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