The Optimist

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Feliz navidad, festive fans of the Wine and Gold! Good gravy, it’s good to be back! I’m throwing exclamation points all over the place – and why not?! It’s Christmas time and Cavalier basketball is here!!!

When we last spoke, President Barack Obama was in the midst of sparing a turkey’s life. I think his name was “Pumpkin.” But what does that matter now?! We’ve got regulation NBA basketball to play – right after Uncle Dave unleashes his undercard on Christmas Day.

On Monday night, our beloved new-look Cavaliers open the 2011-12 season with a home contest against Tristan Thompson’s hometown Raptors. Kyrie Irving, along with Tristan, makes his pro debut. Omri Casspi makes his Cavaliers debut. And I think I can now safely say: A new Era of Cavaliers Basketball has begun.

By this time of year, we’re normally waist deep into the season. But with the work stoppage and startage, it’s full-bore down at Quicken Loans Arena. With the NBA season breathing down our necks, our chestnuts have been roasting on an open fire getting the place ready for hoops.

The Cavaliers have had just two preseason games and an inter-squad scrimmage, and it’s hard to get a true gauge on anything just yet. Coach Byron Scott’s rotation is fluid. Old favorites like Boobie Gibson and the Wild Thing welcome new faces like Kyrie, Tristan, Omri and Mychel Thompson. (Happy trails, Manny Harris. He's a good kid and was a good Cavalier. Live long and prosper.)

I haven’t felt this collectively good about the future of the Wine and Gold since their colors weren’t wine and gold. There’s an excellent vibe on this team.

With so much hardcore basketball discussion, we barely have time to celebrate the Christmas holidays.

As far as I’m concerned as a Cavs fan, Santa’s fat arse has been pretty good to us. And it’s because we’ve been nice, and it always works out in the end. Look at those jerks pictured to the left. You can flout international law for only so long. But Santa sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so you better be good or it’s curtains.


Naughty.

Naughty.

Naughty
OK, so as long as it’s Christmas and the season opener, I done figured: What better time to whip out my New Feature?!

A good ballplayer will add something to his repertoire. A three-point shot, the ability to play in the post. Free throw shooting. More time in the weight room.

This offseason, I added The Opti-List™.

I thought: Everybody loves lists. And so I did this. It won’t be in every column, but it’ll be in some.

For today’s list, on accounta it’s Christmas, I thought I’d feature the greatest Christmas villains of all-times.

Most of them aren’t truly evil and they usually see the wonder of Christmas by the end of the story. Three of them have their own theme songs – and they’re all mint! I apologize for leaving off the Abominable Snow Monster and, of course, Ebeneezer Scrooge. But have any of you ever actually tried to read Charles Dickens?! It’s boring as cuss!

OK, roll the action …


The Opti-List™
Greatest Christmas Villains

Hans Gruber
"Die Hard"
... for the way he says "Shoot the glass."
Heat Miser
"Year Without Santa Claus"
... for Global Warming and this non-white Christmas.
Grover Dill/Scut Farkus
"Christmas Story"
... for beating up Ralphie's brother.
The Grinch
"Grinch That Stole Christmas"
... for whipping a dog.
Clarence Beeks
"Trading Places"
... for insider trading and animal husbandry.
Snow Miser
"Year Without Santa Claus"
... for ruining my dress shoes every year.
Mr. Potter
"It's a Wonderful Life"
... for being a greedy cranky-pants during the holidays.


What do you guys think? Does it have legs?

If you have a list suggestion for future columns – about anything at all – or if you’d just like to drop me a line to say “Happy Christmas, you dashing cad,” you can click this button right here HERE and do so.

Maybe you’ll be inspired by an old, dear friend, who made his triumphant return – just in time for the holidays.


Dear Optimist:

I have just come out of a 17-month coma. I have no memory of what happened, but doctors tell me I suffered a traumatic event on July 8, 2010, and have been hospitalized since. Apparently they removed a knife from my back, which needed dozens of stitches and numerous surgeries to repair the damage.

My, how the Cleveland Sports landscape has changed. The Jedis from the US Navy Special Operations Community took down Public Enemy #1? My former rival is now head coach of THE Ohio State University? The Cleveland Browns aren't undefeated? At least Larry Dolan is still his free-spending self, dropping booku bucks on international superstars like Fausto Carmona. I have already requested leave from work for next October.

My questions is this: With a shortened NBA schedule, will our pending 66-0 record still count as the perfect season, or will the pretenders at ESPN hang an asterisk next to it?

Glad to be back.

Burke
Cleveland, OH


Burke, it’s so nice to see you. I’m glad you’re back and feeling better. And to answer your question: As far as I’m concerned, the Worldwide Leader can kiss my asterisk no matter what the Cavaliers record is.

I’m no longer certain that the Wine and Gold can reach the goal of an undefeated season – even with 16 less games.

When I was a young man, I flippantly threw out predictions of 82-0. But I don’t do that anymore. One day last season – a particularly difficult season – I stopped at a place called 2nd Avenue Records in Portland and purchased the Beatles LP, “Yellow Submarine.” And, babies, after that, I saw the NBA season in a whole different light.

So I don’t do season records or stats or even final scores any more. That stuff’s for squares.

What's not to like?
All I can do is believe that the point guard tandem of Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions will develop into one of the Eastern Conference’s best. I can tell you that I can’t wait to see Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao on the defensive end at the same time. I think Samardo Samuels will get votes for Most Improved Player by year’s end and I think Omri Casspi’s young career will be reborn in Cleveland.

And I feel that if the genesis of that plan unfolds on Monday night at The Q, the Cavaliers will beat Toronto by seven points.

I hope that thought comforts you as you and your loved ones gather for a holiday feast.

Enjoy your family this weekend, even when they’re at their craziest. My dad is going to start yelling about the Browns-Ravens game on Christmas Eve morning and won’t stop until he and my mother take the tree down in January. I’m determined to dig every minute of it.

Get fat and happy over the next few days and we’ll see you for Feats of Strength come Monday night.

Merry Christmas, babies! And, remember, Santa loves when you …

Keep the faith, Cleveland

One love,
The Optimist