The Optimist

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Bonjour, Cavallieros! It’s me, the Optometrist – adjusting your vision on a sunny Monday in Cleveland.

I don’t know why; I don’t like Mondays. Normally, I want to shoot the whole day down.

But today is different. Even with snow still on the ground in March. Even with the Diesel on the shelf with a bad phalange. Even on the heels of a Cavaliers’ loss.

Yes, that’s right. Our Cavaliers actually lost over the weekend – to an up-and-coming Milwaukee team that’s riding the strong play of impressive Fishbone-looking rookie, Brandon Jennings. Mike Brown made a prudent decision to rest TheBron, and the surging Bucks took full advantage, snapping the Cavs’ six-game run.

But there’s something that says “SPRING” to me on this Monday in early March.

And what better way to start out the week than with the Cavaliers’ Western Conference big brothers – the San Antonio Spurs.

Even though San Antonio skunked Cleveland in the 2007 Finals, they are not considered our rivals. As everyone knows, the Cavaliers’ brain trust – GM Dan Ferry and Coach Mike Brown – matriculated in the Spurs’ culture. Their blueprint is our blueprint.

Sacré bleu!
The Spurs are built around a single superstar, are stringently committed to defense and value high-character players. They’re a small market team that drafts well. They even have their own high-profile, high-energy South American coming off the bench.

Unfortunately for the Spurs, they recently mirrored the Cavs in another way – losing a key component, Tony Parker, for six weeks with a broken hand.

Of course, I wish him well. But I’m relieved the notorious Cav-Killer won’t be in the lineup on Monday.

The loss of Parker doesn’t mean that tonight’s victory will be an easy one. Not by a long shot.

We’ll get to the nuts and bolts of said nail-biter right after I get to this urgent query from Quebec …

Hi, I'm a 16 year old boy and I am 5’9”. Am I gonna grow taller because my height is not enough to be a better basketball player?

Thanks,

Mirsad
Sherbrooke

Mirsad, first of all, thanks for reading and writing in. There are a lot of things that I can predict. But how tall you’re going to turn out isn’t one of them. And at 16, you’ve maybe got one more spurt – maybe a spurt-and-a-half – left in you.

Muggsy Bogues (right)
Frankly, I don’t think your height should prohibit you from being a top-flight baller. Plenty of great players have been tinier than 5’9”. Not Tiny Archibald, of course. (He was 6’1”.)

But look at success stories like Spud Webb (5’7”), Cleveland’s own Earl of Boykins (5’5”), and the legendary Muggsy Bogues, who wasn’t much bigger than that little golden statue Indiana Jones stole at the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

You just keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars, little buddy. And please keep us updated.

I remember how I felt after the 2007 Finals. Just like little Mirsad. The Cavaliers just weren’t “big” enough yet. The Spurs planted their palm on our forehead, and the Cavaliers flailed away – with San Antonio sweeping their Eastern Conference baby brethren in four straight.

The Spurs were a better team then. Even TheBron conceded as much.

But the 2009-10 Cavaliers are all grownsed-up. TheBron is better, and so is his supporting cast.

Delonte West, for example, is a huge upgrade over Larry Huge, and that’s why he goes off for 16 first-half points. TheBron, who missed time-and-a-half pay by sitting out a weekend game, takes it out on Richard Jefferson – adding 13 and eight at intermission.

Frankly, the third quarter is somewhat boring.

But the final period produces six ties and seven lead changes, with the game coming down to the final 14 seconds, when Tim Duncan gives San Antonio the one-point lead, 89-88, with a pretty 15-footer off the window.

This is a textbook situation where the Popovich School will always run “The Picket Fence.”

But Pop’s young grasshopper breaks free and calls for something completely different – the play where TheBron dribbles the ball at the top of the key, works his way through the defense and mashes home the game-winner with 1.1 remaining as The Q goes berserk.

Cleveland runs it to perfection.

Manu Ginobili’s desperation half-court heave is off target as the Wine and Gold return to their winning ways – 90-89 – on Monday night at The Q.

The Cavaliers celebrate the tasty victory by heading home to their own enormous beds, where they can rest for three nights before facing off against the Sixers in Philly.

While they’re gone, Quicken Loans Arena will be turned completely upside down by rapacious Mid-American Conference college students, who’ll descend on the city like a Biblical swarm of locusts.

That’s right – every fall the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode. And that must mean it’s time for the MAC Tourney – one of my favorite times of year!!

The college kids go nuts and about all we can do is cover as much as we can in plastic. (I don’t know what they feed Zippy, the U. of Akron’s mascot, but you don’t want to know about the mess he leaves over a three-day Tournament.)

Enjoy this evening’s victory, meatheads. I know I will.

And if you manage the time, will you please …

Choose faith, Sherbrooke

Your pal,
The Optimist