The Optimist

by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Shalom, aspiring world champions! It’s me, el Optimisto – celebrating life through Cavaliers Basketball.

As you can see, today’s report comes to you from the home of the basement of the Alamo – San Antonio, Tejas.

For the final time before the Finals, the Cavaliers will travel west of the mighty Mississip. And it’s only fitting that they close out against their Western Conference big brothers.

On Tuesday night, the Wine and Golders joyfully welcomed the Large Lithuanian back into the fold. He only netted one point in his rusty return, but the Cavaliers still had a dozen to spare – smushing the pesky Hornets, 105-92, for their eighth straight.

The squad is simultaneously looser and more cohesive with Big Z back on the floor, in the locker room and on the Team Bus. A baby-faced and slimmed-down Diesel is only weeks away.

From New Orleans, the only city in America that could make Lent fun, we travel to the Lone Star State for a Friday night to spar with the Spurs.

As long as the Gregg Popovich Apparatus is chugging away down here in San Antonio – and until Cleveland hoists the hardware – the Cavaliers will always be the baby brother in this relationship. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The Spurs are a model organization, bursting with stars and future Hall of Famers. There’s Popp, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and, of course, three-time All-Optimist Second Teamer, Manu Ginobili, who did the unthinkable – earning his record fourth nod, and on the Opening Night of the season, no less.

Ginobili’s basketball skills are boundless. He proved that when he dropped 38 on Cleveland earlier this month at The Q.

What earned him his fourth appearance so early in the campaign was that he smacked a LIVE BAT out of the air on Halloween Night. If you’ve never seen this amazing feat, please click here and check it out.

If it was me, I would have run screaming like a little girl back into the locker room. But not the Argentine All-Star. He didn’t even kill it! He just rendered the bat temporarily flightless and, according to Spurs’ PR, nursed it back to health aboard their Team Bus over the ensuing weeks.

After watching this – and considering that over the last four, Manu’s averaging almost 30 points per game against the Cavaliers (and that’s including one 4-point outing) – I’m wondering if maybe he’s not a witch or something. I’m almost afraid of him now.

Before we get to Cleveland’s ability to withstand another of Manu’s barrages, I must quickly turn to the old Optimist Mailbox.

I had bellyached that the letters had grown stale, and you readers responded with flying colors! I wish I could publish every email, including fine efforts from Fort Myer’s Dunnygirl, Josh from Columbus, Ryan from Pompano Beach, Will from Dayton and the foxy Mindy Bond.

But because I’m Mr. Blue Sky, I decided to publish the sweetest and most complimentary
one …


Your predictions are terrible. I heard Z is playing (Wednesday) and you barely mentioned him. Instead, you complained about how not enough people have been writing you. Are you that desperate for attention? Anyway, I'll get to the point. Start predicting some more points for Andy. He always seems to score more than his average when you tell him to.

Optimist Prime

Believeland, OH

Gosh, Optimist Prime – (if that is, in fact, your real name) – those are some pretty strong-armed tactics.

Normally, I require a please and a thank you. But since you took time to write in and you’re the unquestioned leader of the Autobots, I might as well hook you up. (And it’s not because I’m a minstrel; I’m doing this for the team.)

Yes, Anderson Varejao exceeds his scoring average. But the fact that he has 16 points, eight boards and three blocked shots with under two minutes to play isn’t the reason the Cavaliers are leading by half-a-dozen. It’s his non-stop hustle, his unquenchable thirst for the all-too-precious “50/50 balls.”

Even the all-powerful Manu Ginobili – who again torches the Cavaliers for 30-plus – can’t outwork the Wild Thing, as Andy takes a charge with 1:11 to play, canning a pair of free throws to seal the deal on the other end.

TheBron nets his fifth triple-double of the season and Mo Williams adds 18 as Cleveland sweeps the mini-trip with the 93-89 win – their ninth consecutive – on Friday night in Texas.

Here endeth the lesson, knuckaheads.

The Wine and Gold take one more step out of San Antonio’s daunting shadow, and closer to the day where I can stop publishing this humiliating photo of Cavaliers Director of Graphic Design (and supposed tough guy) Mark “Podes” Podolak from the 2007 NBA Finals.

We came down to San Antone that year trying to make a statement, and Podes wore this ridiculous pink cowboy hat around town like some Kansas City sissy boy. No wonder the Wine and Gold were swept in succession.

Please try to pull yourselves from college hoops long enough for tonight’s fantastic Cavaliers action. Things are great and getting better.

TheBron is coasting to his second straight MVP, Big Z is back, and Shaq looks like he could easily squeeze into a size 4.

Sounds like solid reasons to …

Keep the faith, Believeland

One love,
The Optimist