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All right, how 'bout a show of hands...and let's be honest! How many of you legitimately believed the Cavaliers would awaken this morning for a Game 6, home at The Q, with an opportunity to close out, that's correct, I said "close out" the Detroit Pistons? Thought so....not many! Yet, here the Wine and Gold are, poised to approach air so rarified, air not sniffed by any Cavaliers team in the past 14 years! I was commenting on this very premise the other night after the stellar Game 5 win on the FSN Cavaliers Postgame show. Now think about this...that road win in Detroit hasn't been rivaled since, in my mind, the Game 4 win at the old Boston Garden, May 10th, 1992, as the Cavaliers rallied late in the fourth quarter and overtime to whip Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and those dreaded Boston Celtics! 114-112 was the final in overtime...it tied the series at two apiece; the Cavaliers went on to win in seven, then fell in six games to Jordan's Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. I was hosting the television pre- and post-game shows at the time, and have always kept that visual close at hand. Yes, the wait has been 14 years running, however, the Game 5 victory over Detroit Wednesday surpasses the feat in the musty old Garden of '92! The Game 6 road win two weeks ago tonight in Washington, DC was electrifying...the Damon Jones knockout punch was scintillating, to be sure. Most of us, however, believed the Cavaliers would and should prevail against the Wizards. No one in the basketball world has given the Cavaliers even a puncher's chance of beating the mighty Detroit Pistons. It just enhances the significance of playoff 'road' wins. They are sweeter! Would love your thoughts on that. Hit me with your ideas on 'road vs. home' winning-wise at playoff time!
After getting buried in Game 1, and falling behind by 22 points in Game 2, where did this series 'tilt' in favor of the Cavaliers? It is on the defensive end of the floor, where the boys have approached their chores like snarling Dobermans! No longer are shots NOT being contested, as the Pistons experienced in averaging 105.0 points in the first two games of the series, while shooting a strong 47%, and 53% from '3'. Wipe those numbers away, and send them straight to the basement in the last three games. How about this arithmetic?!!! In Games 3-5, these are sputtering Pistons! Averaging just 77.7 points, while shooting a frosty 38% and just 30% from '3'...That's an unbelievable swing....and, the Cavaliers are forcing almost 8 more turnovers in the past three than the first two games. Formula for success? Evidently, and oh, does Cavaliers boss Mike Brown salivate over these grind-it-out, defensive strangleholds! Individually, I've been very impressed with Eric Snow, Donyell Marshall, and Anderson Varejao...all of them physical, active, and playing wonderful 'help' defense...Mike Brown's system is based on the defenders moving in sync when the ball moves offensively. It's been the best we've seen all season long, and exactly at the right time!
On the television side, we've shared this incredible Cavaliers playoff ride, televising five of the six games in the Washington series, and now two of the first six games in the Detroit series. The NBA's network partners get more exclusivity beginning in the second round, and it changes my daily routine rather drastically when we are shut off by either ABC or TNT. Still busy, just not 'prepping' to call the play-by-play. Fortunately, the Cavaliers cable rights holder, FSN Ohio, has stepped-up strong. I'm involved with the pregame and postgame shows, just as I mentioned above, as my 15-year association began with the hosting of the shows during the 1991-92 season. What I spend the majority of playoff game days involved with now is being the 'interviewee' on other TV and radio shows from other cities and markets. Calls have been coming in every day, from Boston to Los Angeles, and all NBA ports in between, requesting I talk Cavaliers on their shows. It allows me to spread the word on LeBron and all other subjects relating to the organization. I enjoy it, as many eyes have now opened with regard to how impactful the Cavaliers have become as a legitimate playoff contender. I always flip the script on most of the hosts, asking them if LeBron was deserving of the MVP. Get interesting responses. It amazes me that LBJ received just sixteen first place votes, yet still finished second to Steve Nash. We'll see which one is still chasing an NBA championship ring after this weekend!
My deepest sympathies go out to Larry Hughes, his wife Carrie, mother Vanessa and the entire Hughes family on the passing of 20-year-old Justin due to a congenital heart disorder. It has been a most difficult time for not only the Hughes family, yet the entire Cavaliers organization as well. Justin spent time around the Cavaliers with his brother this season, and we all came to realize what a tremendous bond they formed, with Larry living his life so that Justin could experience his own dream. Touching, and now extremely sad. Make no mistake that the Cavaliers, to a man, have maintained the memory of Justin, and the well-being of their 'brother' Larry at the forefront of all they have accomplished to this point.
The latest LeBron Nike 'Witness' commercial is in distribution, and I'm flattered that they have used my play-by-play call from LBJ's remarkable baseline drive to the hoop for the Game 5 winner in the Washington series in the spot. Many of you Cavaliers fans always stop me around town to tell me where you catch my calls from the national sports highlight shows and programs. I'm truly fortunate to be calling the action for this organization, and it heartens me to comprehend how closely all of you fans pay such close attention to detail. With LeBron on the scene, and providing 'the moments,' how can any of us go wrong! Have a feeling these special moments in the months of May and June will raise all of us to heights we haven't experienced! Enjoy the ride, Cavaliers fans!!! You deserve it!
My Cavaliers Best!
What a tremendous time it's been the past couple of weeks all over Cavaliers town as the anticipation has built dramatically toward this day, April 22, 2006! The first playoff appearance for the Cleveland Cavaliers organization in eight long, and sometimes grueling, seasons dating back to 1997-98. I've stated publicly so many times, I am most thrilled for you...that's right, you, the ardent Cavaliers fan, who has endured these past eight non-playoff seasons, always with the steadfast approach of...'when it finally turns around, it will be that much sweeter'! Enjoy your ride! You deserve as much as any fan base of a professional sports franchise! Let you in on a secret, too...I strongly believe this signifies the beginning of a possible 10-12 consecutive playoff berths for the Cavaliers franchise, with...dare I say, parades to celebrate an NBA Championship or three along the way! That's the track of excellence owner Dan Gilbert has this franchise on. It's so enjoyable to watch it unfold! Make this initial season back in the postseason one that is very meaningful for you, with the larger picture always in view!
I want to share with you my MVP balloting, turned in to the league office this week. Let me preface it by saying I'm honored to be an awards voter each and every season, and take it very seriously. I have to be credible, and approach it the proper way. For instance, last season, I voted LeBron James fifth in the MVP race. I thought that was about right, a most impressive individual season, averaging better than 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Yet, the Cavaliers did not make the playoffs. In all good conscience, I could not vote him any higher than that. Just 42 wins and no playoff berth. I place a substantially high value on 'team accomplishment' when deciding on the 'most valuable'...let's check this April's breakdown.
REGHI'S MVP BALLOT
#5 Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Best player on a 60-win team...strong in all phases of the game, with Jason Terry/Josh Howard/Jerry Stackhouse as the top talent around him. Will probably never win an MVP, yet deserves attention.
#4 Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
He's probably the Most Outstanding Player, he's not the MVP. I know, 35 ppg plus is impressive, yet how many Lakers does he make better around him? Lamar Odom? Smush Parker? Luke Walton? Kobe may average 40 ppg one of these coming years. The shots will just keep on coming!
#3 Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Led the league in assists at close to eleven per game, and might even win the award. Another 50-plus win season for his Suns, and most will say he was even better than his MVP season of 04-05. I realize no Amare Stoudamire, yet Shawn Marion had an MVP-like season in his own right. Again, from what I glean nationally, don't be surprised if Nash goes back-to-back.
#2 Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
The best all around player on the league's best team, hands down. Again, I'm all about team accomplishment, remember? Billups doesn't possess the eye-popping numbers the other candidates do, yet 64 wins is oh so strong! 18.5 ppg, and 8.6 assists per game is representative with another NBA title potentially attached to it.
#1 LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
The young man from Akron exemplifies everything that should be promoted about the NBA. Tremendous resolve, work ethic, will to compete, and win, all while continuing the ascent of his overall game. Only the fourth in league history to average better than 31 ppg, 7 rebounds per, and 6 assists per night, with the onus of carrying this franchise on his shoulders attached to it. No Larry Hughes for forty five games? And still win 50? Incredible!!! I detest those who try to tell me...'he's only 21, and he'll win maybe four, five in a row along the way, so why vote him now'? Absurd! Look at this season's body of work. If you deem it the best, he's your MVP...just that simple! He's the best for this observer, and that's why he's my MVP.
As I peek at the NBA playoff matchups, I see only a couple possible stumbles for the higher seeds. In the east, look for Indiana to stretch New Jersey out, and possibly steal that series as Jermaine O'Neal and the toughness of Rick Carlisle's crew give the Nets fits. In the west, I wouldn't be surprised whatsoever if the Lakers make life miserable on Phoenix. Now, here's where Kobe Bryant becomes the 'Most Outstanding Individual Player'. He loves this stage, and will let it all fly! The Clippers, who manipulated their way to the 6th seed while losing to avoid Dallas in the first round, and San Antonio in the second, will drop Denver. And, because of the pestering, the way the league approaches playoff seedings could change next season.
The Cavaliers, you ask? This matchup with the Washington Wizards is the most compelling of the first round series. We realize the innate problems the Cavaliers face in dealing with Gilbert Arenas and crew. The Wizards don't pay a great deal of attention to the defensive end of the floor, and aren't physical or imposing around the hoop. What they are is offensively gifted, as Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler are wonderful compliments to Arenas. They want to get out and go, turn the floor over quickly, and put 105-112 points on the board...The Wizards methods? Outpoint their opponent, plain and simple. If the Cavaliers can keep the game in the mid 80's, low 90's, Washington will have severe problems. Couple key areas to ponder from the Wizards winning three of four in the season matchup with the Wine and Gold.
1. Can the Cavaliers keep Washington from second and third chance opportunities as they hit the offensive glass? It's been a problem in the Wizards three wins.
2. Turnover problems lead to Washington run outs. Have to value the basketball, and not get above that 13-14 turnover plateau. Take away the Wizards running opportunities, and you force them into a halfcourt game.
3. Bench be busy! Huge edge for the Cavaliers! Flip Murray, Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, and Anderson Varejao can change pace and tempo against a weak Wizards bench group. This area deserves high scrutiny game by game.
LeBron James will announce his playoff presence in a most dramatic fashion, I believe, in leading the Cavaliers to the second round. Won't come easy! Cavaliers in seven, with probably a road win needed along the way in D.C.!
I'll check in with all of you as the series shifts to D.C. next weekend. Again, enjoy the Cavaliers ride, and have fun at The Q!
My Cavaliers Best!
Question for you right off the top this time around! Are you still feeling the exhilaration from Saturday's LeBron/Wade marvelous basketball 'theater'? I am! What a spellbinding display from the pair of superb megastars in the making! Those who witnessed this virtuoso performance should keep it sealed in your own hoop 'archive' for years to come. As I said during the telecast, take that picture postcard snapshot for the mind's eye, and don't let it go. LeBron with the once again masterful refusal-to-allow-the-Cavaliers-to-lose effort...18 fourth-quarter points, with 4 assists to go with it, bringing the Cavaliers from behind. And it was Dwyane Wade who electrified as well. Virtually impossible to contain when he gets into the paint, keeping Cavalier defenders in an almost impossible position attempting to keep him under wraps. It makes me recall some special 'take that' moments from NBA days of yesteryear. The classic Bird vs. Magic battles that seemed to be out of this world, especially with World Championships on the line. Even duels like Michael Jordan/Isiah Thomas always caught our attention, as did the Wilt Chamberlain-Bill Russell big man lockdowns from the 60's. Point is, these two phenomenons could have this rivalry all stoked-up for a decade or so to come. And it's about the Cavaliers/Heat because of the way the pair respects the game and how the team aspect is important to them. Just thrilled by it, and it'll contain 'championship' implications in the not-too-distant future!
The Cavaliers are honing their game as April rolls in, smartly situated in the fourth-seed in the east, with the regular season winding down inside the ten-game mark. How huge an advantage might home floor be in that first round? Enormous! Consider the possibility of playing Washington, Milwaukee, or Indiana with a potential game seven in front of 20,562 at 'The Q'! A tremendous edge. Don't think that has been lost on the Cavalier players, either. They are fully aware of wanting the home floor and why.
Speaking of which...a couple playoff-related items jump out at me immediately. First, I'm ecstatic for you...the long-suffering Cavaliers fan, who gets a postseason drink for the first time since the '97-98' season. I'm thinking you've been very parched! Eight seasons without a taste is long enough! So congrats to you fans...and make sure you provide that '6th man' loudness that should have the home building reverberating in fourth quarters. You deserve the opportunity!
Secondly, head coach Mike Brown is beginning to look at different combinations in preparation for that first round, with an eye toward the return of backcourt ace Larry Hughes. Once Hughes shakes four months of rustiness off him, imagine the possibilities for Mike Brown, as he could, say, play LeBron, Hughes and Flip Murray together, with the responsibility of initiating offense rotating between the trio. I know the defensive preparation by the Cavaliers' opponent would have to be drastically altered. What a strong 'problem' it is to have a surplus, which the Cavaliers will with Hughes' return. 18-10 with Larry, and on pace for a 50-win season...26-19 without him, the recent 8-game win streak bumping the boys over the .500 mark without him. Welcome back, Mr. Hughes!...You've been missed!
How'd you feel watching the recent NCAA tournament run of Jim Larranaga, the former Bowling Green coach with Cinderella George Mason? I was extremely pleased for him and his kids. Think about what an accomplishment that was to beat the likes of Michigan State, North Carolina, and UConn on their way to Indianapolis. The loss to Florida, the eventual titleist notwithstanding, the feat was truly remarkable. I salute Larranaga and the Patriots for giving the 'little guy', their rightful place in the spotlight. Now, here's a message to college presidents and athletic directors who might expect their mid-major program to be the next George Mason. Calm down! Expecting coaches to get these teams to a Final Four is not realistic. I truly hope coaches don't lose their jobs over what is now deemed as not enough winning to duplicate the George Mason experience. Wouldn't be fair.
Let's grab the web mailbag, shall we? Question from Michael, in Findlay, who asks about the reduced playing time of Sasha Pavlovic, after serving as a starter for nineteen games before the acquisition of Flip Murray.
Michael, it's simply about a 'trust and resume' issue for Mike Brown. Most coaches are big believers in a player's track record...in other words, has said player performed in a consistent manner at this level over an elongated period of time? Now, Sasha played some solid basketball, and he does have a strong upside. Yet, my feeling is, at 23 years old, and still learning the game, especially on the defensive end, and in the half-court offensively, coach Brown feels more of a comfort level with Flip Murray and Damon Jones. Murray, a slasher who breaks down defenders off the dribble much more efficiently than Sasha, and Jones, who recently has rediscovered his three-point stroke, and has a history of making big shots for playoff caliber teams...(Miami last season, Detroit, and Sacramento in years past). You may not agree, yet I guarantee you that almost every head coach in the league would approach it the same way...Now, if Sasha continues to defy gravity, with breathtaking 'throwdown' dunks like Saturday versus Miami...things could change in a hurry!
Joe, from Chardon, writes to inquire about the off-season and the moves Danny Ferry could make to upgrade the Cavaliers talent base.
Joe, I believe, as I've stated in this space before, Danny has done a masterful job in assessing the Cavaliers needs, and filling them smartly. Unquestionably, the playoffs will serve to answer many questions regarding potential moves, yet, I firmly believe the decision on Drew Gooden, and the power forward spot, will serve as the catalyst to the 'shaping' of the Cavaliers roster for next season. He's a restricted free agent, and will the Cavaliers match any offer he receives, or choose to proceed in a different area at that position? Will the point guard spot be addressed? That could come into play as well. What about resigning unrestricted free-agent Flip Murray, who has meant so much, and been so vital to the Cavaliers playoff resurgence while Larry Hughes healed? Stay honed-in on these areas. They'll tell you plenty!
Hope to see you at 'The Q' as the playoffs get set to return to downtown Cleveland! If not, check out the Cavaliers on the tube on either the Cavaliers Television Network, or FSN Ohio. It's going to be an extremely enjoyable ride!
My Cavaliers Best!
Ah, the month of March, with it's built-in drama, emotional roller coaster rides, and last shot hysteria! And it's not just relegated to the collegiate and high-school courts either. Case in point, Sunday's thrilling Cavaliers 96-95 decision over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Couple of key ingredients stood out from the Cavaliers perspective.
1. Defensive turnaround in-game: After being torched by the Lakers offense to the tune of 63 first-half points on seventy-percent shooting, the Cavaliers proved that when with proper mindset, and the want to accomplish, they can get some things done on that end of the floor. It was quite pleasing to see LeBron James take turns with Eric Snow in showing Kobe some different looks, while helping to ignite some pressure on the basketball out front. In many instances of late, the Cavaliers seemed to let the opposition readily get into their sets without much resistance. That was not the case versus LA. Just 32 second half Laker points, and only one offensive rebound allowed the entire game! That's the gang-rebounding mentality the Cavaliers will need to employ come playoff time. Terrific to see, as four Cavaliers grabbed off 7 rebounds plus!
2. Getting 'Z' his touches! The Cavaliers still function at their best in the half-court offensively when they go through Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Post All-Star game, there have been too many puzzling nights when the big fella has gotten just 6 to 8 shot attempts in his 30 minutes per game on the floor. That's just not enough volume. He needs to be at 15-18 field goal attempts per night, and the last four games, back a week to the loss at Miami, he's taken 59 shots, connected on 33 of them, for a stellar fifty five percent. And have you noticed his enthusiasm for passing out of the double teams that come his way? I have. Four assists versus Portland tell you he'll make that skip pass when he senses the pressure. Averaging that fifteen shots per game from the Man in the Middle down the home stretch will serve the Cavaliers well. Trust me on that one!
3. Ferry 'Flips' out! Must give major 'kudos' to Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry on the acquisition of the versatile backcourt talent, Flip Murray! Excellent 'get', given the Larry Hughes injury that could have been disastrous had a move not been made to bring some of the same skills that Hughes possesses to the Cavaliers guard play. Sunday at The Q was exhibit A! Murray's ability to attack the hoop aggressively in the fourth quarter was paramount to the Cavaliers huge comeback. Wasn't that exciting to see? Murray taking the ball strong to the goal, much in the same fashion that Larry Hughes attacked in the twenty eight games we saw him in the Wine and Gold. As I've pointed out in this space previously, when Hughes went down, that second 'slasher' next to LeBron went with it. While Murray isn't as accomplished as Hughes, he certainly can get into seams, finish himself, or make draw-and-kick decisions for Cavalier teammates. I'm lovin' Flip's game! A crafty defensive player as well! Danny Ferry may have hit his biggest 'homerun' of the season in the deal with Seattle.
Let's get into the mailbag, shall we? A question to ponder from Joe, in Chardon, who asks if I am seeing improvements in the Cavaliers play defensively as the season wears on, and what moves will Danny Ferry make this off-season to shore up the roster?
Joe, being quite candid here, the Cavaliers defensive schemes are still evolving. During certain stretches, like the Lakers game 2nd half, the effort, enthusiasm for that side of the ball, and execution with rotations and 'help' defense are solid. The guys were swarming and running the floor off their pressure. That's when the Cavaliers are at their best in my mind. What frustrates many is why that consistency doesn't maintain for the duration of games? That, I believe, is equally puzzling to Mike Brown and his coaching staff as well. The players show they can execute the system, it's just not prevalent on a nightly basis, which can be a source of discontent for you fans. Mike Brown believes he sees progress, has told me so many times, and he's the guy the players have to please. We all can agree on this. As the playoffs hit, the game will center on the defensive end of the floor. Let's hope the Cavaliers are up to the task.
Secondly, regarding the moves this off-season, I think you might look for some additions at the point guard position, and most probably the power forward spot. A decision on whether to resign Drew Gooden must be made. That determination will go a long way in dictating the makeup of the '06-'07 Cavaliers. Thanks, Joe!
In mentioning this glorious month of March as I did earlier, for me, it winds down seven weeks of adding college basketball play-by-play work to my Cavaliers schedule. Many of you comment on seeing me calling the college games, and I thank you for the continued viewership. I thoroughly enjoy the college game, with its campus excitement, style of play, and the coaches that I've gotten very familiar with, and in many cases, close to, as the years have rolled on. What tremendous spirit and dedication these men bring to their universities and teams. I consider it a privilege to be asked to call as many as possible.
Rolled around the eastern seaboard and the Midwest again this winter, as I called Mid-American Conference, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, and a few Big East games for the various national sports television entities. While the travel can get hectic around the Cavaliers schedule, I find it challenging not only calling the games, but making the travel arrangements work to and from. I had one particular twelve-day stretch from February 4-15th, where I called a game every night! Seven Cavaliers telecasts, three away in Minneapolis, Washington and Boston, and five college games on the nights not telecasting the Wine and Gold. Now that will stretch you out a bit! Gotta love it though! Kind of reminds me of the seven years I called Baltimore Orioles telecasts where I'd go through a 17,18-day stretch in a row before that valued 'off' day came! The fun I have on campus is tremendous. And, as a side note, many thanks to the 'Reghi Rules' Kent State T-Shirt gang in the end-zone student section. I'm highly flattered, and oh, what ribbing I took from the guys and gals on the television crews over that! Not bad, when you consider now I'm subsidizing the Kent State education of those half-dozen students! And I trust your brackets have been ripped apart by the likes of George Mason, Bradley, and Wichita State still dancing? Who'd of thunk it?
Now, many of you have emailed and stopped me at The Q to inquire about my wardrobe. Where I get my suits and accessories, etc. Yes, I do take a great deal of pride in how I dress on the job. I've always believed when you feel good about how you're dressed, the performance will follow. Here goes: For the past nine years, I've been with the same tailor. While in Baltimore calling the Orioles, I was introduced to Jack Christopher Clothiers, an outstanding tailoring group that specializes in dressing athletes, television professionals, politicians, etc. They have been excellent in tailoring my wardrobe each season. They continue to do a most impressive job. Here in Cleveland, I am associated with Adesso, a quality upscale men's clothier in Rocky River. Superb lines and impeccable tailoring. Professional in every way. Again, so many of you have inquired, and I appreciate that. Thanks for noticing!
Okay, boys and girls, let's all get ready for the stretch run, just 15 games left, with an opportunity to snare that fourth playoff seeding and the homecourt that goes with it. Next get together, we'll discuss some playoff particulars and ramifications for the Cavaliers and why they should be considered the odds-on choice to stay positioned right where they are come April 19th, and game 82. Talk to you then! In the meantime, make sure you lock in with us on the Cavaliers Television Network and FSN so you have all the right Cavaliers moves.
My Cavaliers Best!
How 'bout we bring you some All-Star break musings...clean up the mail bag, and check the temperature of the Wine and Gold fifty-two games into this '05-'06 season.
I'll begin with the 'Man in the Middle'...I'll state right off the top what an injustice it was for Zydrunas Ilgauskas NOT to make the Eastern Conference All Star squad. It goes way deeper than just the numbers...16.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, and close to 2 blocked shots per night, in twenty nine minutes of playing time per. What most don't see about 'Z' is how professional he is in job approach and how very, very much he cares through accountability to his coaches and teammates. You've heard the old 'first to arrive, and last to leave' axiom? Fits Zydrunas perfectly. Some night when you come to "The Q" to check out the Cavaliers, roll in when the doors open 90 minutes prior to gametime...you'll observe 'Z', on the floor, with assistant coaches, getting his shots up, working on his footwork with his back to the basket, and even simulating the Cavaliers 'pick and fade' play that he runs so beautifully with LeBron James.
Want to then retreat to the Cavaliers' locker room to check out that night's scouting report on the opposition? Zydrunas prepares that way as well, through video tape watching and the coaches reports. He's a complete 'throwback,' boys and girls! Could have played in the league in the 50's and 60's when the players ate, drank, and slept basketball for 7 months a year. I could see the anguish on his face, and complete shock, as he missed those two free throws in Boston Wednesday night that would have iced the victory for the Cavaliers. He felt he let his teammates down. They rallied around him, and 'picked the big fella' up, as LeBron told me afterward, just as he's carried them numerous times this season. Sure, Shaq's always gonna' be there, because it's a 'popularity' thing with most fans who care to vote. Ben Wallace is the 'center' on a 42-9 team. Zydrunas should have earned his third All Star game trip. Big man says 'he's gonna lay on the couch' for five days and get some much needed rest. Well deserved, Z!
I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the Cavaliers plight now that it appears certain Larry Hughes will be shelved until, best-case scenario, the final few games of the regular season, however, most probably until a week into the postseason. Cruel punishment for an organization that hasn't received much good fortune, as we know, down through the years. I spoke with Danny Ferry regarding this puzzle and asked him now that the Cavaliers players have clarity with regard to Hughes, could it possibly be a positive in the long haul?
Danny's response was revealing. He mentioned to me that he felt Larry's teammates will go through the 'shock' period for a while. Hughes is so well liked and was received favorably immediately in the locker room for his fearless, aggressive nature of play. The fellas refer to a player like Hughes as a 'gametimer'...leaves everything on the floor, never retreats from any situation, is just relentless in his approach. That's exactly why I mentioned to Ferry that he and owner Dan Gilbert did a marvelous job in identifying Hughes as the perfect fit with LeBron's skills. Will the Cavaliers be able to stay in the fourth and final playoff slot in the East with Hughes sidelined until late April? As we write, 13-11 without him, 18-10 with him.
Look at it this way: Thirty games left beginning next Tuesday when Orlando visits. The schedule isn't too terrible. Couple of potential 'danger zones' in March and early April. Say the Cavaliers played exactly .500 basketball the rest of the way. 15-15 would leave them at 46-36, and a definite playoff squad. Will forty-six wins hold on to the fourth hole, and the home floor that goes with it, first round? Dicey stuff, there. I'm thinking it will take possibly 48 wins to lock up fourth. So, given that mathematical rationale, can the Cavaliers do a 17-13 finish, and get to that forty-eight win plateau? Could be doable. Let me know what you think, and we'll discuss it in our next blog chat.
Let's hit the 'mailbag'! We get emailings from you strong Cavalier supporters!
Robert from South Euclid asks: With Anderson Varejao now back in the rotation with Drew Gooden and Donyell Marshall at the '4', will Danny Ferry pull off any dramatic deals at trade deadline time?
Good question, Robert. Here's the problem with looking to find backcourt help with Larry Hughes sidelined. Most teams realize the Cavaliers' situation, and are looking to dump players with longer lucrative contracts to receive say, a Drew Gooden, who not only would help them on the floor, yet has an expiring contract as well. I don't believe Danny Ferry is too interested in taking back a bad multi-year deal to part with Gooden. Also, there's an old NBA axiom that says...'never trade big for small'. Get our drift? Danny Ferry has to look down the road as well as just this present Cavaliers' season for the betterment of this franchise as they reach championship level. To sum up? I don't feel the Cavaliers will do anything of a 'major, dramatic' nature.
Ryan from Strongsville emails: Why do we run the shot clock down to end quarters and halves, even when trailing?
Ryan, I can hear you screaming at your television, right? Pretty basic...when you have the shot clock almost synced up with the game clock to end a quarter or half, most coaches simply don't want the opponent to have the basketball again with an opportunity to put more points on the board...yep, even when the team trails. Very common occurrence around the league. When the Cavaliers are trailing, try to keep that in mind before you bellow out at the television...you hurt my ears! Just kidding!
Tyler from New Vienna asks: Why won't LeBron enter the dunkfest at All Star weekend?
I spoke with LB about this Tyler, and he simply doesn't want to be typecast as just a "one dimensional' player that only dunks to thrill crowds in non-game conditions. I understand. The young fella is royalty in his game. So complete. And that's why the skills competition better suits him. I realize you want to see...'Flight #23 exploding off the runway"...yet he's doing the right thing...Remember, 'Bron is like Picasso...an artist in nature. Enjoy the skills competition, Tyler!
Finally, speaking of those major league 'throwdown slams'...two Cavaliers best from the first half....Larry Hughes, out of the halfcourt offense...attacking the hoop on December 17th at 'The Q'...and posterizing Alonzo Mourning with a left handed stunner! I came right out of my chair, as Hughes put 'Zo in the deep freeze! Hope you still maintain that visual!...and Wednesday night in Boston..late in the double OT win..LeBron, with full extension...knees in the face of poor Delonte West, and crushing home that vicious spike! My, did the Garden crowd have to pick their jaws off the floor after that rim rocker! How 'bout you guys? Anything else stand out? Let me know!
Enjoy the All Star game....Mike Brown told LeBron the other evening to tell Flip Saunders, the East's coach, to only 'play you about ten minutes'!!! I just hope Flip doesn't play LB forty-five!! Remember...back to back with the Motown bunch later this month! How intriguing will that be?
My Cavaliers Best!
Your humble 'blogger' comes your way at 3:30 a.m. this fine Wednesday morning, January 25th from Atlanta, Georgia, where the Cavaliers are once again nestled all snug and comfy...and on the road after all of 72 hours and one game at home! Ah, isn't the NBA schedule maker just grand? Hey, no big thing...twelve days on the road in six different NBA cities west of the Rocky Mountains, and fellas, don't even bother to unpack the bags, because you're 'road trippin' once again! And who said this is the 'glamorous life'?
Let's wrap a bow on the jaunt to the Western Conference with some musings from the trip. Beautiful cities visited, some of my favorites, especially San Francisco and Denver. Do enjoy Portland as well. I'm very much an NBA nostalgic. Just love looking back at the teams from my youth in the late 60s and 70s, with the colorful characters, coaches and players who comprised some glory days of NBA hoops. So, that given, it was a thrill to head to the University of San Francisco for Cavaliers' practice and shoot-around last Thursday and Friday while preparing to play Golden State...yeah, I know, the worst performance by the Wine and Gold on the trip! For me, practice at USF was the definite highlight for a couple reasons.
First, the gym that houses the Dons, the USF basketball squad, is cozy, to say the least, and the front corridor is loaded with memorabilia from the glory days of Bill Russell and KC Jones, the Boston Celtic greats, who dominated the late 50s and the decade of the 60s with NBA titles in Beantown. However, in 1954-55, and 55-56, they won back-to-back national championships at USF. What an absolute defensive genius Russell was! And USF has him as prominently displayed as one can imagine, his high-top black, canvas, game-worn shoes and national championship ball in one display case, with pictures galore! If you enjoy the small school program playing with and beating the big boys, you'd love this campus and its basketball tradition on the hilly streets of San Francisco...with apologies to Karl Malden and Michael Douglas. Can you imagine a school of this relatively-small stature beating Duke, or UConn, or North Carolina to win a championship today? Maybe Gonzaga, who beat USF Monday night, by-the-by, is the modern day USF.
LeBron James understands the significance of those who preceded him like Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson, as the 'Big O' appeared at The Q on Tuesday night. He spoke of that to Bay Area reporters while also answering their questions about 'The LeBrons,' too! I'm always amazed at LBJ's knowledge of the game he loves...Just amazing! And, he topped off the practice for those said reporters while standing at one free- throw stripe and launching an 80-foot heave that got nothing but net at the opposite end of the quaint gym. Just like he pulled off in the Nike commercial as well! A young showman with that wonderful flair for the dramatic.
And, oh yes...the volumes and volumes of fabulous restaurants to be sampled while on the west coast. Austin Carr and I, along with the Cavaliers Sr. Director of Broadcasting, David Dombrowski, happened upon the Harris Steak House (pictured right) in San Francisco, a west-coast tradition, and the fare was absolutely mouth- watering...Prime rib of beef, steaks, chops, and sea food very plentiful and delicious! It made for a more strenuous trip to the gym for the workout the next day! I love the eating in San Francisco...maybe that's why Tony Bennett left his heart, and taste buds, there!
All right, I've been asked with great repetition my thoughts on the 'end-of-game' decisions last week by LeBron in three Cavaliers' losses at the Lakers, in Portland, and Denver. Very basic for me. You can't begin to compare LB's four attempts at game-winning shots at age 21 to Michael Jordan, or anyone else, as their careers developed. You have to define the overall 'body of work' first and foremost. What LeBron learned, I believe, is that he has to take those final shots, and not turn down the opportunity by passing the ball. A few Cavaliers' veterans discussed that with him, and I feel LeBron does realize his teammates are looking for him to exude much more 'selfishness' in taking EVERY final shot. His game encompasses distribution first, and teammate involvement...that makes him so special. Yet, at the end of games that goes by the wayside...take the next 50 potential game-winners young fella...and if they all go 'clank'...come right back and take number 51!! That's were his leadership skills come into play. An aside to all the national pundits and critics...you must judge on the entire presence that defines one's game. Not whether or not he's made a game-winner in four opportunities. Believe me when I tell you, the game-winners will flow readily enough.
I enjoyed Mike Brown's ideas of what defines greatness in the game. Has to be championships, according to the Cavaliers' head coach. And I agree with him. Whether or not you like that premise, it's factual. Championships in the NBA from the accepted team leader carries an enormous amount of weight. Always will. Are Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing Hall of Fame talents? Unquestionably! Yet, that foursome will always be linked together for NOT having even one championship ring among them. LeBron fully understands that NBA 'truism' as well.
Many of you have asked me down through the years how I came about developing my play-by-play 'style'. Easily stated. I grew up on the east side of Detroit, in the heart of the city, where the game was king...and the hoop sacred. Along with the playgrounds, streets, alleys, and black-tops we played on as kids came a way to 'talk' the game that was our own...very 'city-game' influenced...and full of spice!
For instance, a made shot wasn't just 'good'...it was drained, buried, laced, string music, splashed...you get me here, right? That was our language...takin' it strong to the hole, and send it in strong!!!!! We announced the game as we played the game. I realized by ten years of age I wanted to give this a shot, if I couldn't make it professionally playing. Same went for football and baseball, too. So, what you hear on the Cavaliers' telecasts, or football and baseball I've been blessed to call down through the years, is true passion for the game. It's real, not contrived. It's a love that becomes who you are. A signature, so to speak.
Now, I've modified a great deal as the years have rolled along. That comes from experience. And, I realize that not all fans and viewers like my 'style' of calling a game. That's fine. You see, one's style is very subjective as to your likes and dislikes. What isn't subjective, and what I control, is how I prepare for the game, my relationship with players and coaches, and the respect you hope to have from all involved. That's paramount to me. What has become a compliment to me is those who say..."I don't necessarily like Reghi's style, yet he is very knowledgeable, brings out the best in his partners, and prepares very well for the telecasts." Music to my ears. Again, the style is subjective to your tastes. My work ethic is in my control. I'll never cheat you, the viewer and fan, in that regard. Promise!
I was extremely fortunate in my youth growing up in Detroit to be able to listen to on the radio-side some of the finest play-by-players to ever grace an NBA microphone. Hearing the rants of the abrasive Johnny Most calling the Boston Celtics on WBZ. The melodious tones of Marv Albert with the New York Knicks on WNBC. Getting the highlight packages on Piston games of the late Chick Hearn as he described the LA Lakers. Tremendous talents all. And, in the '73-'74 season, happening by the smooth Joe Tait, still our very own, with the Cavaliers on WWWE. Outstanding talents one and all. Now, I didn't copy any of them. Yet, they all have had an enormous impact on this generation of sports play-callers, I guarantee you. Classic broadcasters one and all!
All right boys and girls, it's now 5 a.m., and I've already begun to prepare for tonight's telecast here in Atlanta. Remember how the upstart Hawks rolled into The Q in mid-December and nailed the Cavaliers? We'll see if the Wine and Gold have a little something in mind here in Dixie. Need wins to stockpile approaching the All- Star break. Enjoy the games, and we'll chat again soon.
My Cavaliers Best!
Greetings from the Cavaliers' longest road jaunt of the season, which began with plenty of fanfare in Los Angeles last Thursday...Cavaliers versus the Lakers, oh no, wait a moment here.....how silly of me! No, this one was simply LeBron vs. Kobe, according to all the locals in LA. And, oh baby...did the media jump all over it as well!
Actually, it turned into some fun for me, as I tuned in to a couple sports talk radio shows that featured their programming around the question to Los Angelinos...'Would you trade Kobe for LeBron straight up, right now?'
I stayed with them for close to two hours, and you might be surprised to hear the predominantly pro-Laker crowd proclaimed in overwhelming fashion they would do the deal 'yesterday'! Twenty one callers over the two-hour period went 16-5 to go get LeBron right away. Most cited the 7-year age difference as the deciding factor for their preference.
It was easily detectable that animosity toward Bryant has begun to set in with Laker fans. Many are beginning to see him as a selfish volume shot taker who ran Shaq out of town, which started the demise of the Laker franchise. While he doesn't seem to be interested in displaying the necessities to always make his teammates better, he is one of the finest 'clutch' shot makers the NBA offers. All the conversation sure made the day in LA most intriguing! And, by the way Laker fans, save your quarter for the call to Danny Ferry....not interested!
The night at Staples Center was terrific for 'celeb' watching, too! The obligatory crew headed by Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Penny Marshall, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, etc. rolled in. Yet, the largest response went to USC Trojans' QB Matt Leinhart, who wore his Lakers' gear and signed autographs for the adoring public. Hey, in LA, you must arrive late and leave early, yet the crowd just adored Leinhart, even after the stunning loss to Vince Young and Texas the week before that cost the Trojans their third straight national championship. He visited the Cavaliers' locker room...wanted to check out LeBron, of course, and even chatted up Zydrunas as well. Quite a day and night with the Wine and Gold in La-La land!
I'm really looking forward to seeing 'Glory Road,' the highly-acclaimed movie documenting the strong run of the Texas Western Miners to the collegiate national championship in 1966. I checked out a sneak preview in LA, and highly recommend the presentation, not just for basketball fans, but more importantly, for all of us to gain a far greater understanding of the social impact it merits. The depiction of Don Haskins and his African-American basketball team defeating Adolph Rupp and the all-white Kentucky Wildcats provided as poignant a moment that sports could ever muster. Hopefully, it will help stimulate discussion that places the event on the level of Jackie Robinson's breaking the sports' color barrier in the 40s. Give me your thoughts after you check it out.
Can the Cavaliers fight their way through the injuries that have now claimed two members of the starting five? Fortunately, Drew Gooden won't be sidelined as long as Larry Hughes, yet the Cavaliers' depth will be tested. On the positive side, we all will get a better handle on how players such as Luke Jackson, Sasha Pavlovic, and Anderson Varejao will adapt to the increased workload. You have to find out about young players. Can you count on them to be contributors off the bench? What facets of the game will they specialize in? And, maybe most importantly, can the youngsters be 'trusted' during the guts of the game? Most every young player not named LeBron James, or Dwyane Wade, or Carmelo Anthony, goes through the same thing...earning the confidence and trust of their head coach. It probably is the largest obstacle a young player in the NBA must overcome. Let's see how it plays out with the Cavaliers' kiddie corp. Stay tuned!
As the trip ends over this weekend, I'll get into something many of you have asked me about. That is, my play-by-play 'style' while calling Cavaliers' games. I truly appreciate all of your comments and interest in all that we do. Enjoy the 'second half' of the trek west, check us out on the Cavaliers Television Network from here in Denver, versus Golden State, and the trip finale in Utah this Saturday night. I'll be looking for you guys!
My Cavaliers Best!
I do hope all of you enjoyed your Holiday Season. It's a tremendous time to be around family, loved ones, and friends! Let's make 2006 a year to remember fondly in many aspects.
I have to begin with a large 'way to go' to all of you Cavaliers fans who were extremely boisterous while creating that sizzling atmosphere at The 'Q' on New Year's Eve afternoon while the Wine and Gold were smacking the team with the top record in the NBA, the 24-4 Detroit Pistons. I have to tell you the way you responded during a couple of Cavaliers runs in building the big lead gave me some chills and flashbacks to days gone by in the previous building in Richfield. It was that impressive! And don't think for a moment that it goes unnoticed by the Cavaliers players! They love the energy and believe it enhances their play. Already 13-3 @ home, with twenty five left in front of 20,562 rockin' the place could find the boys, as I've stated on the telecasts, quite conceivably lookin' at 32, 33 home 'w's'....possibly more. Creating an environment that opponents find difficult overcoming was one thing that was very high on the priority list for general manager Danny Ferry.
Speaking of the former Cavalier, don't you believe he deserves a tremendous amount of respect and credit for how he meticulously, yet aggressively, put this roster together this past summer? Let's not kid ourselves. He had to make some strong and tough assessments on individuals, and there were some glaring areas of need that had to be addressed. Sure, it helped that the money to spend under the cap was plentiful. However, how many organizations in each of the pro sports over the past decade lavished money on players that gave them virtually nothing in return for the investment? Ask franchises like the Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Baltimore Orioles what the feeling is like to have one of the highest payrolls in all of sports during the late 90's into the early years of this decade and win zero...zilch.
You see, Ferry has already put in place an atmosphere of loyalty and accountability with the Cavaliers that is to be admired. It's what he believes in most. And it's a tribute to his upbringing in the basketball business that will serve as his master blueprint. The thing I most enjoy is that he is not afraid to say something needs to be done better if that's the case, and he'll be very proactive in doing so. Dan Gilbert and David Katzman can be very proud of, and comfortable in, the selection they made. Given what goes on in other franchises' front offices all over pro sports, Danny Ferry is truly a visionary that will have you Cavaliers fans enjoying your basketball team in the manner you desire.
By the way, have you taken a look at the standings around the NBA this morning? I know you get a bit detached over the holidays, so here's a quick bulletin that may jolt you some....the Wine and Gold, with their 18-10 slate, and .643 winning percentage would be a division leader in four of the six divisions in the league...yep, only Detroit and San Antonio, the two squads everyone feels will compete for the championship in June, have better records and winning percentages than the Cavaliers. Mike Brown and the guys would be leading the Atlantic, Southeast, Northwest, and Pacific Divisions as we blog. Now, I'll be the first to tell you 28 games does not a season make. More to the point, these next four games, three at home, twice with Milwaukee, home and home, and Houston and The New York Knicks at The 'Q' are very important. I'm looking at needing to grab wins in at least three of them to head west feeling and standing tall, still in hailing distance of Detroit in the Central.
Back to the win over the Pistons. Yes, I do believe it could be quantified as a 'barometer', or 'measuring stick' of how the Cavaliers not only view themselves, yet maybe more importantly, how teams like Detroit looks at them. It brings with it a confidence and trust among teammates that should serve as a piece of the building foundation. Don't you, as fans, see some tangibles on the defensive end of the floor starting to fall into place in Mike Brown's new system? Trust is a key ingredient. Defenders have to develop that amongst one another in order for this new system to thrive. It's beginning to grow, evidenced by how Zydrunas Ilgauskas has altered and blocked shots in the painted area around the rim. It's fun to watch, especially as it leads to fastbreak transition opportunities for LeBron and Larry Hughes, as it did against Detroit. Keep a watchful eye on that aspect of the Cavaliers' play. It just may determine how much is achieved by season's end.
Time to catch the plane for the short jump to Milwaukee. I'll see you on the telecast tomorrow night, and we'll get together again early next week. Happy '06 to one and all!
My Cavaliers Best!
December 20th, 2005
As the pace quickens for all of us during the Holiday Season, and how many times have you lost your patience at the malls and shopping outlets while battling 'shoppers rage' during the past couple weeks? Yeah, I know...me too! Take heart, oh ye' Wine and Gold Cavaliers fanatic, as the fellas have FOUND theirs! That's right. Patience...the ability to let the game slow down, with execution supreme at the offensive end of the floor in wins the last two outings over Denver and Miami. A sampling? Easy to see, following some periods of stagnation during the stretch of seven losses in the nine games prior.
Here's the rub. Plenty has been discussed, dissected, and otherwise run through the ringer over and over with regard to what is, or isn't, happening defensively. Fair enough. Yet, have you noticed some tweaks that have occurred on the other end? The results have been plentiful.
You see, during the 9-2 start, the Cavaliers were in running mode in transition. Lots of easy hoops followed. Suddenly, the opposition dictates that the Cavaliers will not be allowed to get out and go. The halfcourt offense was something less than Mike Brown had hoped for. Nice to see the head coach with a big smile!
In the two wins, the Cavaliers have moved the basketball, moved bodies with crisp execution off screens, and showed the knack for making the defense pay the price for trapping and double teaming LeBron James. The numbers speak loudly!
-A total of 52 assists in the two wins. The 29 versus Miami, a season high, and just remarkable in that they come on 75 total field goal 'makes'! That's a strong amount of 'helpers' leading to buckets! And the Cavaliers have some very talented 'distributors' of the basketball, don't they?
-That sharing of the ball has led to 52% field-goal accuracy in the wins, and how about this, 19 made 3's, at a 40% clip from long distance. You'll win a bunch on the home floor and otherwise with that type of offensive mindset.
Which takes me straight to LeBron. Absolutely magnificent nights in the victories. You want efficiency? Wow!!! Off the charts good! He has 'IT'.....and then some! That's the unique ability that only a few truly-gifted ones have to make all that surround them better. How about his 19 assists in the wins?...9 against Denver, the sparkling 10 versus Miami. I love the way he begins games by getting his teammates shots early, knowing that he'll gradually involve himself with shots as the game progresses. And those shots? Not a heavy volume at all. Boys and girls, follow closely, please. When a player can put up 26 points one night on JUST 18 shots, and follow that with a 41-point outburst on only 19 shot attempts, with the assists inclusive, that is big-league premium production. Almost unheard of! And, the best thing about the passing acumen of LeBron, it's getting contagious! Larry Hughes with six assists in each win, along with that sweet slashing of his to the rim...just ask Alonzo Mourning about it! Why, even Donyell Marshall racked up 5 assists in the victories while averaging 18 points in a barrage of threes. And, oh Zydrunas, please keep the 'no-look-wrap-around' passes coming that sent LeBron soaring high to befuddle the Heat. It is simply beautiful basketball to watch, and highly entertaining from a fans perspective as well.
I've gotten a ton of questions from you asking how I feel about the Ron Artest controversy, and would he look good in the Cavaliers' colors. Now, I must tell you, usually I'm proactive when it comes to things of this magnitude. I don't necessarily demand players have to be 'choirboys' to fit in. If you are sold on his talents, and they can make you better, pull the trigger. Not in this case. There is no denying the man has supreme defensive skills as an on-the-ball defender. And, he can go get you 20 points a night offensively as well. Stop, though, and consider this: This is a guy who wants out of a team poised to go deep into the playoffs. Who questions his 'offensive' role and the shot opportunities he doesn't get from his coach Rick Carlisle. And maybe, most important of all, he pulls this crap on a team that has stood by him while he's torn the heart right out it with his actions the past two seasons! I bet while most of us focus on the brawl he instigated at The Palace last November that cost his team his services for the entire season, many of us forget the Eastern Conference Finals from the season before, when he absolutely imploded in Game 6 against Detroit...took a ridiculous flagrant foul against Rip Hamilton, and cost his team any chance to advance there. Finally, ask yourself this: Aren't we being a bit naive to think he'll suddenly be on his best behavior anywhere he goes? Sure, he might walk the straight-and-narrow for a period of time, but you can rest assured it will ultimately come down to his selfishness rearing, and once again, having a basketball team suffer the ultimate consequence. Spending way too much time catering to the impulsive wants of a troubled individual.
I'm not only sending Merry and most joyous Christmas and holiday wishes to each and every one of you, but a hearty round of good cheer to the NBA schedule makers as well! It's wonderful being home during the holiday season, as the Cavaliers have very little road travel during the month of December and on into the new year. A four-week stretch that sees 11 of 15 games leading up to the large January west-coast trek right here in the friendly confines of 'The Q'! Trust me when I tell you it's highly appreciated by the Cavaliers players and staff, as their holiday season is very normal indeed, with both Christmas and New Year's with the families. Now, let's make sure that no one tweaks anything while helping Santa put together the toys and games that will require all the batteries for the kids. You need solid conditioning for that task as well, don't you?
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you! I'll see you at 'The Q' and on the tube with the Cavaliers. Enjoy everyone!
My Cavaliers Best!
While most courtside observers were left scratching their heads and uttering a collective 'huh?' as LeBron James was whistled for a rarely called 'offensive backdown violation' late in the New Jersey game Friday night, one individual at The Q could just smile and wistfully remember when. You see, as referee Bill Kennedy made the call that had most perplexed, it brought back less than fond memories for Mark Jackson, the seventeen-year NBA veteran point guard who was in the building working alongside Marv Albert as the color analyst for the New Jersey Nets on the YES Network. The seldom called violation against an offensive player who 'stops the normal flow of the game' is dubbed the 'Mark Jackson rule'. While with the Indiana Pacers for a six-year stretch from the mid to late 90s, Jackson would isolate with the basketball on one side of the floor while backing down a defender into the painted area while the shot clock wound down, and his four teammates would virtually come to a standstill, as would the opposition defenders. Sure, boring basketball in the half-court, before zone defenses were legalized in the NBA. The rules' committee said, 'We don't enjoy that style of offensive play' and the rule was initiated.
I encountered Albert and Jackson afterward as we exchanged holiday greetings, and Jackson had the look of a man who had bad memories conjured up. Here's the funny aspect of the call. During the timeout immediately after the play, lead official Bob Delaney sauntered over to Scott Williams and me and asked the question...'Remember why that rule was instituted?"...Sure do...it hit me right then. And he was sitting about thirty feet down television row! The dreaded 'Mark Jackson Rule'! Oh, by the way, LeBron said he's heard of the rule, but never witnessed it called...until now. Here's hoping we don't see it again anytime soon!
Speaking of LeBron, how about the new Nike Basketball.com television commercials, 'The LeBrons,' featuring the Cavaliers megastar as a four-generation hoop talent? I've enjoyed some of the previous advertisements featuring James, yet this one may be the most creative and clever. Love it when 'Grandpa James' is sitting at the dinner table regaling the rest of the fellas about his court exploits! Classic stuff! And don't all of us have an elder member of our families who never tires of telling about his sports moments of greatness? Absolutely we do! I haven't had a chance to discuss the particulars of the shooting of the commercials with LeBron yet, however, I have to find out about the characterizations. We have to know if LeBron played all the roles himself. Future star of the big screen, too?
I thoroughly enjoy not only my conversations with, but professional relationships gained with, Cavaliers players and coaches down through the years. Many have been very special. Same goes for opposition team personnel as well. Here's the dilemma for someone in my position as a team broadcaster: Can you become too attached? Tough one to deal with sometimes. I genuinely want to see everyone in the organization succeed. Yet, as we know, professional sports is filled with constant change, comings and goings, trades and firings. Which leads me to this question from blog reader Aaron from Bellville:
Do you become affected when a player or coach is traded or let go?
Aaron, that is an excellent question, and one that has caused me to do plenty of soul-searching down through the years. Bottom line is, being in this position requires a 'fine line' to be established. Earlier in my Cavaliers television days, I went to dinner, lunch and socialized with players and coaches more frequently than in recent years. Not because I don't care to. It simply IS very difficult to separate the personal from the professional when change occurs. A few examples for you: Terrell Brandon, the late Bobby Phills, Dan Majerle, and Bobby Sura. Four of my favorites from the early to mid-90s as I started my stint as the Cavaliers television play-by-play broadcaster. You develop a personal relationship/friendship with guys, who ultimately leave the team through trade or as free agents, and it DOES affect you. Hated to see all of them leave. Terrific guys, strong teammates, and the last link to Cavaliers playoff days. I was very disappointed at their departures. Same principle applies to Mike Fratello. I received such a basketball education while having the good fortune to be at practices and shoot-arounds on a daily basis under Fratello. A brilliant strategist, and immaculately-prepared. Always! Same applied to game nights. Never was he caught without control of game management situationally. One of the very, very best on the coaching sidelines. I've always felt he'll never get his just due for the impact he had here in Cleveland, with Atlanta, and now in Memphis. And, oh yeah, a very strong television color analyst between coaching stints, too! So, I digress. Yep, you're right. I'm a strong 'Czar of the Telestrator' advocate. He remains a wonderful friend.
What makes it very difficult is when constructive criticism needs to be spoken of during a telecast. If I don't at times, I'm not fulfilling my obligation to you the fans and viewers. Not to mention having one's credibility questioned. That I won't compromise. Do I want to see the Cavaliers do well each and every night on the court? Absolutely do! It makes for a strong telecast for all of us. My energy and excitement level is genuine. When it comes time for that constructive criticism, that's when that friendship/relationship line gets put to the test. Most definitely the most difficult thing I've encountered since beginning my run with the Cavaliers. The key is: respect. The players and coaches get it always from me. I've had the good fortune of receiving it back in kind from all inside the Cavaliers' lockeroom. That always will remain a source of pride for me. Good stuff from Aaron in Bellville!
Alright, boys and girls. Huge home stretch before, during, and after the Holiday Season for the Wine and Gold! Ten of the next thirteen games until the next jaunt west are at The Q! Let's hope the fellas take full advantage of some 'home cooking' and stay solid in the rugged NBA Central Division. I told you about that last blog. Every division game is ultra-important: Indiana, Chicago, and Detroit visit during the Christmas season. Let's hope Santa has 'winning stocking stuffers' for the Cavaliers!
My Cavaliers Best!
So many adjustments to make while 'living' for close to a week on this, the first of two Cavaliers' jaunts to the west coast...for broadcasters as well as players, coaches, and team personnel. I don't know about all of you, however for me, I'm just starting to get back into a normal sleep routine, just as we get set to head back home. This way for you, too? I wake up between 5-6 a.m. like clockwork....never fails! The 'bodyclock' says it's 8 a.m., so let's roll! No excuses for not getting 'well-prepared' to bring you guys strong telecasts when you get up that early, right?
Hey, speaking of the telecasts, I get a big kick going into enemy territory on the road and having the fans of the 'home team' have no choice but to take note of the Wine and Gold! Case in point: In Seattle, Austin Carr and I sit virtually among the Sonic fans, just off courtside. So, as the Cavaliers are roaring back from 14 points down to tie the game early in the fourth quarter, I'm getting rolling with excitement on my calls! Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall splashing big 3's, LeBron James and Larry Hughes attacking the hoop...and the Sonic fans right in front of and behind us are making faces at me...telling me to quiet down and choice other comments. It's all a part of having a 'road attitude' for all of us with the team. Good fun away from The Q. And if you can rankle the hometown crowd once in a while, so be it. Would have been even sweeter had the 'good guys' been able to come away with the win!
When we visited last week, I mentioned why Larry Hughes was the right choice at the '2' guard spot for the Cavaliers, and as a strong complement to LeBron James. Let me back up my case. First off, I'll roll out the numbers for the four shooting guard free agents that were the 'spice' of the summer shopping for general managers.
Larry Hughes: 38 minutes per. Averaging 17.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals, shooting 39% from the floor, and 45% from '3'.
Ray Allen: 39 minutes per. Averaging 23.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.9 steals, shooting 42% from the floor, and 34% from '3'.
Michael Redd: 37 minutes per. Averaging 25.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals, shooting 45% from the floor, and 55% from '3'.
Joe Johnson: 39 minutes per. Averaging 18.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.1 steals, shooting 42% from the floor, and 29% from '3'.
Okay, you have the arithmetic. If you've watched me call Cavalier games for years, you know I'm not a large fan of statistics to 'value' a player. Yet, I wanted all of you who are stats fans to have the correct ammunition. Now, let me dissect why Larry Hughes was, is, and will remain the 'right fit' for the Wine and Gold. And, I present this to one and all immediately after Hughes' shakiest performance of the season in the loss to the LA Clippers Saturday night.
I believe most of you were dreaming of teaming Michael Redd with LeBron. Sure, Ohio native, a Columbus guy who played at Ohio State and certainly has one of the premier shooting strokes in the game. No questioning that. Yet, as most GM's, coaches, and scouts will concur with, as I've maintained all along, there is no comparison in the all-around games of the two. Hughes is far superior in EVERY facet of the game, with the exception of shooting from the perimeter. Rebound the basketball? Handle it? Get out on the break, either as an initiator or finisher? Take the tough defensive assignment? Check, check, check, and check...Larry Hughes.
I'll apply the same reasoning with any arguments for Ray Allen as well. Again, let me state, as I've said on the air many times, that Allen is the very best long-range shooting talent in the NBA. One of the finest who've ever played. He has few peers over the course of time. Yet, as I watched him closely twice in the last three weeks, I wouldn't even consider him over Hughes, the shooting not withstanding.
Joe Johnson is the closest to Hughes in the all-around player category, and yet, wanting to leave the winning atmosphere in Phoenix to play for Atlanta? Joe, baby, winning around 60 games a season and the playoff basketball that goes with it wasn't appealing enough, huh?
Which brings me to the strongest cases I can give you as to why the Cavaliers got the right guy. You see, what many have missed when discussing Redd, Allen and Johnson, along with the additional millions they raked in when staying put in Redd and Allen's case, and taking the Atlanta money that Phoenix said they would not pay in Johnson's, is that none of the three was willing to have shots reduced, and some of the luster taken away from their games, while playing with LeBron. Speaks volumes about how Hughes views the potential winning that sits on the horizon with the Cavaliers, as opposed to his personal numbers. And, the creme de la creme, as I see it? Larry Hughes has a fearlessness and toughness in his game that hopefully becomes contagious! He takes the ball to the hoop relentlessly, always attacking...and getting belted many times. Doesn't care. He'll come back again soon! Defensively, he'll fight hard up top, and as he said after the loss in Los Angeles to the Clippers, the 'want' to play defense has to become a part of the Cavaliers' fiber. I have a feeling Mike Brown couldn't agree more.
LET'S MOVE ABOUT THE NBA in the 'surprise positively' and 'disappointing negatively' categories, shall we? After the seasons first five weeks, this stands out:
Biggest 'gold star' belongs to the NBA Central Division. All five teams playing above .500 basketball. That's a strong 15-16 games in. Will make the 15 games the Cavaliers have forthcoming with their Central 'brothers' very significant indeed. I said before the season began, four of the Central would be playoff-bound. Wanna' make it all five with Milwaukee, too? Could happen. Gotta' buckle up in this division, to be sure!
Then...I give you the Atlantic Division...whoa! Not one of the five even at .500! Why did we buy into New Jersey as possibly a 50-55-win team this season? Looks like the Kidd-Carter-Jefferson-troika still has blemishes, huh? And, only 4-4 @ home? Not sure if the Brooklynites want them in their borough.
Out west, we've seen how potent Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, and Sam Cassell can be in leading the Clippership to an 11-5 beginning, but don't sleep on the young Golden State Warrior squad that Chris Mullin has put together. 12-6, very nice, although the home schedule has been favorable. Seems Baron Davis and Jason Richardson are existing quite nicely, thank you. Toss in solid support from Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy, and you might get a playoff squad in the East Bay. Mike Fratello has Memphis off to a 12-5 beginning, winners of 5 in a row. Do they have enough 'muscle' around the glass to stay big in the West? Fratello will have them immaculately prepared, as always. Houston at 4-12? Ouch. Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming should have them more than four wins by themselves, shouldn't they? And, for all of you Laker 'stargazers' checking in, Phil Jackson, Act 2, is not going so swimmingly, is it. I'm sorry, but Kobe Bryant taking 33 shots per game on average over the last 8 is outlandish. That's a lot of 'jacking'!! By the way, they won't win anything of note with that 'me first' stuff from Bryant.
And, lastly...we saw them last standing in late June, and it looks like nothing has changed...Detroit at 13-2, without Larry Brown, of course, and San Antonio strong and mighty at 13-3...book them through to late June '06 for a repeat? Naw, not just yet. It does give Mike Brown and the Cavaliers, as well as the rest of the NBA, a measuring stick to be judged by, though.
I'll look for all of you from here in Sacramento Tuesday night on the Cavaliers' Television Network, or when the team gets back home for New Jersey on Friday. Again, thanks for all your feedback! Strong stuff!
My Cavaliers Best!
November 28th, 2005
I trust one and all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, filled with love and laughter amongst family and friends. I relish the opportunity to communicate with all of you here on the blog, or as we see one another at 'The 'Q' or about town. That having been said, I want to not only dig into the email bag this week, as all of you Cavalier fans have been extraordinarily strong with your questions and comments, but respond in this space as well to some thoughts many of you have presented personally. So here goes:
A question from literally hundreds of you in person, and Collin of Beachwood via the blog email:
*'How good is this team, given one-sided losses to San Antonio and Indiana, with the nine wins over teams not expected to go deep in the playoffs? Should there be cause for concern?
Let's talk frankly, folks. It will always raise an eyebrow or a thousand when a team doesn't perform well against elite competition. And sure, ask Mike Brown and he'll be the first to tell you it causes concerns in a variety of areas. Here's a simple analogy about NBA play to always use as a rule of thumb: When a team doesn't shoot well, and the Cavaliers shot a combined 34% against the Pacers and T'Wolves, you won't look pretty. Furthermore, you won't beat the high-end teams, period. Take the Minnesota loss, for example. Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, Damon Jones and 'Z', four of the very vital offensive components, went a combined 5 for 41 from the field! That's a very chilly 12%!! One of those nights that you won't see but a handful of times during the season from that quartet.
What I hone-in on with this team is two-fold. How are they adapting to the system that MIke Brown is implementing, with a heavy accent on the defensive end of the floor, and maybe, more importantly,...how are they blending the skills and abilities of the new faces while going through the getting-acquainted process?
As Mike Brown himself said after the Indiana setback, the team overall remains a work-in-progress, with the defensive end of the floor still needing daily maintenance. What is encouraging? Hey, first off, with a game left in November, the Cavaliers are 9-4, and in second place in the Central Division, just a game-and-half back of Detroit. If I gave you that when the season started, how many of you would have raised your hands and asked, 'Where can I sign up?'. Now, next time you are at 'The Q', or watching with us at home, look at the defensive rotations, especially on the weakside of the floor, the side away from the ball. There's becoming better 'help' there, when a defender is beaten, and the off-the-ball Cavalier defender must step in to help. We've seen 'Z', Drew Gooden, and Lebron take charges in the paint, a very good sign, and more shots are being challenged around the rim. What still needs improvement is the want to stop the ball up top when a guard is penetrating, whether off a pick-and-roll sequence, or just a straight dribble penetration. Take heart, though. The desire, the understanding of its importance, is solid with this group. They will get better as the their comfort heightens.
As for implementing the new talent, it's been a bit hit-and-miss. Again, very strong bottom line at 9-4, yet the Cavaliers realize they must fine-tune the offensive end in the halfcourt as well. When getting stops and flying out in transition, it all looks very pretty with LeBron and Larry turning the floor over in a hurry. In the halfcourt, Mike Brown desires lots of movement off the ball, bodies moving, thereby the ball moving, and putting defenses in a quandary. Too much standing with the ball pounding is not the desired result. I want to see what transpires at about the 20-25 game mark or a quarter of the season in. Games in the Central Division will be extremely key. Chicago and Milwaukee believe they are playoff teams, right along with Detroit, Indiana and the Cavaliers. The Wine and Gold realize winning in the division is crucial to playoff success. So pay very close attention to December games against the Bucks, Bulls, and Pistons.
*Daniel/New York City writes to ask about the injuries to Ira Newble and Anderson Varejao. When can we expect them back?
They are both vital to the Cavaliers being 'whole', Daniel. Given Mike Brown's passion for energy on the defensive end, both Ira and Anderson will earn rotation minutes when healthy. Ira is just beginning rehab from the plantar fasciitis discomfort of the right foot. He told me if you put a golf ball in your shoe at the heel, and try to walk, that's the discomfort level. He's hopeful of returning by Christmas. Anderson is still two months away after the shoulder surgery. He is doing very light court work with trainer Max Benton and strength and conditioning coach Stan Kellers. Those two are tremendous professionals who will play a key role in their return. And by the way, when Mike Brown does get both Ira and Anderson back, the battle for rotation minutes off the bench just goes up ten-fold!! Can't wait to see the practice floor then!!!
*Frequette/Richmond Heights checks in to ask about Sasha Pavlovic being out of the rotation at the present time with Luke Jackson getting minutes. Why?
It's the defensive end of the floor, again, Frequette. Mike Brown was giving the minutes to Sasha in the first week or so, then Luke Jackson began to show the 'spirit' defensively that the head coach desires. Now, for Luke to continue to earn them, in addition to maintaining a defensive presence, he has to be more assertive offensively as well. A couple of instances, shots were passed up by Luke with the shot clock expiring that must be taken. Sasha is an intriguing offensive player. We'll see if the defensive principles required kick in as well. That's why I've stated the battles for playing time will be extremely intense when Ira and Anderson return. Remember, no head coach plays all 12 significant minutes. Can't do it. 9, maybe 10 tops. It'll become a numbers game off the Cavaliers' bench shortly, and you know what...that's a GREAT thing to see unfold. It only makes this squad more balanced and competitive.
*Matt/Sydney, Australia (way to go, Mate!) writes to say he misses the Cavaliers here at home, but checks out our man Joe Tait on the NBA's Audio Channel from the 'Land Down Under'! Nice, Matt! And, he asks where we see the Cavaliers finishing the third week of April as the regular season ends?
Matt, you are a Wine and Gold diehard! Just love it! As I stated before the season began, I conservatively called the Cavaliers a 48-win team, with the possibility of the 4 or 5 slot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The desired goal for the players is 10 wins each and every month through March. That would have them at 50 with still 11 games to go! That's lofty! Yet it's an excellent mindset to have. 48 wins could be a bit conservative on my part. You know what, I sure hope so. 52-54 wins should surely be in the ballpark for a 'homefloor' edge at playoff time! That's why they play 82, right?
*Randy/Hudson asks where I see the Cavaliers compared to the 'big boys' in the Eastern Conference?
Randy, you are right on the money with the possibility of a shifting of power from West to East in the league. I, as the year started a month ago, felt four teams from the Cavaliers Central Division would be playoff qualifiers: Detroit, Indiana, Chicago, with the Cavaliers. I'll stay with that, although one might want to make a case for Milwaukee as well, making it a clean Central playoff sweep! Taking that as a given, and adding the winners from the Atlantic and Southeast Divisions with the automatic berths regardless of record, we may see just two additional playoff slots in the East to battle for! With that as our measuring stick, yeah, sure, the East has the more talented, deeper teams. Does anyone beat San Antonio in June is the question that still begs the asking, however.
*Amar/Beaverton, Oregon checks in to wonder why there is all the national talk regarding the possibility of LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers when his first contract expires?
Oh man, Amar...all the way from the land of Nike...I get that asked over and over again...relentlessly! So, let's address it. Let me state straight away that I believe LeBron deeply desires to win multiple NBA championships in his hometown region. Right here in Northeast Ohio. He carries a tremendous amount of pride with regard to his upbringing, and desperately wants to emulate Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan as NBA megastars who played and won multiple titles for one franchise. I know, MJ finished up in Washington, but a title wasn't realistic with that franchise then. And, please...everyone forget about an NBA or Nike conspiracy to facilitate LeBron with greater riches should he play as a Knick, Laker, or Bull. Not happening. LeBron flat out leaves way too much on the table to leave Cleveland, monetarily and otherwise, and maybe more importantly, has received an outpouring of organizational commitment from Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry in the form of free agent acquisitions that have molded this team in the best complementary form to him. That commitment meant everything to LeBron. So please Cavalier fan base, sit back and enjoy the ride with this exciting team with plenty to prove. LeBron's on board...for the long haul!!!
My deep gratitude and personal thanks to the hundreds of you who dropped me a note in our first month of blogging. As mentioned, I'll start my trek through the emails and answer all of you...promise! And for those of you who have been so kind to compliment our telecasts, and my involvement with them, I am thrilled for your involvement and enjoyment of Cavaliers' basketball. Stay tuned, it's going to be an electrifying ride! Just you watch!
Next time out, I'll be west coasting with the boys, and will break down the Cavaliers recruitment of Larry Hughes, and why he is a better fit than Ray Allen, Michael Redd, or Joe Johnson might have been..I'll see all of you then!
My Cavaliers Best!
Anyone for early season 'Statement Weeks' from the boys in Wine and Gold? Since we've last chatted, the Cavaliers have rung up four consecutive wins, haven't lost in two weeks, and are serving notice that the weapons in the arsenal are vast and varied! Case in point, the wildly entertaining, highly gratifying comeback dazzler in the house of Iverson Saturday night! More on that straight ahead...
Question for ya'...When does a Saturday night in November feel like it should have been in late May or early June??? Why, in the hoops hotbed of Philly, of course! The gym on Broad Street and Pattison Avenue was charged with electricity...Lebron and AI...Hughes and Igoudala...CWebb and Drew...a playoff environment...and it did not disappoint!
I have to tell you...I absolutely love a few NBA atmospheres for their tradition, passion, fan knowledge and involvement, and loyalty to the home team. Philadelphia is in my top three. The Wachovia Center was buzzing with anticipation, and I felt that extra surge of excitement as well. It began before the game started, as I had a couple moments with the man who saved NBA basketball in our fair city...the one and only, ladies and gentleman...World B. Free! Did the man know how to entertain on the basketball floor? I just loved his flair, showmanship, and that very sweet stroke from lonnnngggg range!!!! As Austin Carr and I discussed on the television side, World has conducted himself with class and professionalism throughout his life after the NBA, and always, I mean always, has been glowing about his time in Cleveland. It meant a great deal to World to be a part of the resurgence in Cleveland hoops, when he rallied George Karl's '84-'85 troops from a 2-19 start to make the playoffs! And we should all be thrilled that the Cavaliers will bring World back 'home' this season to properly honor him for his large achievements to Cleveland basketball. Retire the jersey, anyone? We'll see! World told me to pass along his best to all Cleveland fans. Consider it done!
By the way, during that period in the mid-80's, I was the weekend sports anchor at WEWS-TV5, my introduction to Cleveland, and spent many a night watching with amazement as World flashed that crooked smile, and uncorked that scissor-kicking, leg spread 'three' of his...still have great visuals of his game, many a night carrying the Cavaliers to wins when everyone in the building knew, opponents included, that World had to get near 40 for the Cavaliers to be successful. Off the floor, World was extremely gracious to fans, a 'giver' of his time.
My Cavaliers broadcast colleague, the incomparable Joe Tait, still on top of his versatile game, I might add, is also extremely fond of World. As we chatted about him on the way home from Philly Saturday night, Joe recalled that one rainy night at the Summit Mall in those years, World and Joe were chatting as they stepped outside into the inclement weather, when a father with his three young sons approached and asked World for a picture...not a problem...except the dad left his camera in the car...when the father told World he'd go to the car and get the camera - and could World wait with the kids! - World complied, talking with the youngsters, asking them about school and sports, until dear ol' Dad got back to snap the picture five minutes later! Hope that family has told that story over and over as the years have rolled on...a special man, one World B. Free!
Speaking of special, back to Saturday night, and that glorious Cavaliers win over the Sixers...it brought to light a few early season relevant observations about Mike Brown's squad...and Brown and his sharp coaching staff as well:
1. The first-year head coach is doing an excellent job at making match-up decisions during the guts of the game...Philly's going athletic and quick...no problem. Counter with Donyell Marshall at the '5' in the fourth quarter, joining Drew Gooden on the front line, with Lebron initiating offense at the 'point guard,' Larry Hughes and Damon Jones spreading the floor, and causing Philly some serious defensive issues that the Cavaliers exploited. Lebron was demonic getting to the rim himself, or drawing and kicking for open shots for Hughes, (I told you he'd 'fit' this team better than Michael Redd, didn't I?) Jones, Gooden and Marshall. Well done!
2. In Orlando...a negative possession under a minute left resulted in a forced three-point attempt from LeBron while pinned in a corner...Next possession...after Brown had the timeout to diagram the ensuing possession, still down three, he used James as a decoy! Z sets a high, subtle screen for Donyell Marshall, while Lebron is clearing out that side of the floor...Hughes finds him spotted up, and voila!!! Donyell buries it! Game tied. Now it's time for a stop...Eric Snow and Hughes continued to harass Stevie Francis who missed the jumper at the buzzer. Cavaliers with an 8-0 run to start overtime, win easily.
3. The unwavering commitment to the defensive end of the floor. It's still very much a work-in-rogress, as Philly exploited for the first three quarters Saturday, yet watch closely, and you'll see the effort is so much better! Cavalier defenders talking, communicating in screen/roll situations, weakside rotations actually being understood and executed, and the want and desire to play better on the ball defensively, taking charges and challenging shots around the bucket. That's all Mike Brown and his coaches. They are prepared immaculately, and work at it to exhaustion. As I said, it's not all there yet, but it's coming...and at 8-2, who's complaining!!!!
Before I get rolling, I want to tell all of you how much I truly appreciate the wonderful words of response I've received from so many of you Cavalier fans with regard to our telecasts! It's very gratifying, and as I've always expressed, I'm there to be the liaison between 'your' basketball team and you the fans. Click here to send me a message. I love being in your family rooms as we enjoy the Cavaliers together. It's going to be a fun ride, and after Thanksgiving I will respond to all of you who have dropped me an email. Promise! Oh, I say after Thanksgiving, because as we speak, I'm preparing for tonight's Miami/Ohio Mac football telecast I'm calling on ESPNU. Really like Athens...beautiful campus here in the Hocking Valley...Back home for the Cavaliers-Celtics Tuesday night, then more college football TurkeyDay! Kent State/Akron Thursday morning. Lots of 'prep' work. I wouldn't have it any other way! See ya' soon, guys and gals!
My Cavaliers Best!
November 13th, 2005
Right off the top, all of you were tremendous in your responses to our first thought-provoking question of the season.......which coaching 'Brown' will win the most games with their new squads this NBA season, the Cavaliers Mike, or the New York Knicks Larry? Not surprisingly, the vast majority of you feel Mike Brown will achieve the greatest success this season, and by the way, the Knicks are still staring at a doughnut, 0-5, after their loss to Golden State Friday night. I'll respond to as many of you as I can. And I truly appreciate your involvement and the very kind words that many of you passed along. Click here to send me a message.
By the way, and strictly for enjoyment and entertainment purposes only, after viewing the Wine and Gold absolutely shred their first three opponents, I am setting the home win total at The Q for the season at 32 and a half! How about you guys? Can the Cavaliers dominate the visitors to their home playpen to the tune of 33,34, maybe even 35 home court wins? Wow! Sounds like a tall order, yet with continued supremacy on the glass, rebounding the basketball in 'gang mentality' fashion, and swarming defensively - taking charges, applying pressure on the ball, and turning opponents' turnovers into fastbreak points...It's an intriguing thought, yes?
Many of you Cavaliers fans frequently ask me what's a normal game day like on the road for the television play-by-play guy. First off, I'm truly blessed with the opportunity to call games in this league, and take the responsibility to do so, and be your connection with your favorite team, very seriously. It remains a great passion as I begin year number twelve with the Wine and Gold.
Contrary to popular belief, we don't just show up, go in front of the camera, put the headset on, and make 'TV magic'...I typically spend two-and-a-half hours on game day 'prepping,' putting together my team and player charts, looking at recent game tape, and going to the morning 'shootaround' with the team. At the arena, I'm chatting with Mike Brown and his assistants, the players, and heck, even those all-knowing 'ink stained wretches'...the beat writers! Just playing! I enjoy the three fellas who cover the Cavaliers on a daily basis very much...good people!
Next, back to the hotel and the television production meeting with the game producers and directors, either with The Cavaliers Television Network, or FSN Ohio.
Gotta' hit the gym to get the workout in, and then it's time to head to the arena by late afternoon...More conversation with the coaching staff of that night's opponent, maybe a player or two, collect my thoughts, and then GAMETIME!!! Wouldn't care to be anywhere else...smelling that popcorn, getting the adrenaline rush...It never gets old!
My greatest desire is to have you loyal viewers and Cavaliers fans enjoy your team to the fullest, as the game comes into your living room. That's my greatest desired result.....Later in the season, I'll get you inside my 'style' of presenting the game, and how it came to be. As always, I highly value your feedback on anything Cavaliers television presentation-wise.
Hey, I know by nature, none of us truly appreciate NBA referees. That's not in the 'fans handbook', right? I have to tell you, I make it a point to say hello to that night's game referees at midcourt during warm-ups before every game....It's a ritual of mine. They always are watching game tapes, and hear us play-by-player's around the league. Friday night, I chatted with three of my favorites, the ageless wonder, Mr. Dick Bavetta, who just celebrated his 2,100th NBA game milestone, Mr. Scott Foster, a bright, hard-working young official who truly gets it, and Ms. Violet Palmer, who is truly a pioneer in her field. Think about it guys and gals, a woman entering a 100% male-dominated world, being heavily scrutinized every night, and to climb her chosen professional ladder, you better impress everyone continually, from coaches, to players, to GM's to the fans......Talk about working in a fish bowl! She handles it absolutely beautifully! I always gain an appreciation for them as people. We discuss movies we've seen, the best places for dinner in each city, where do you like to workout, who does your suits, where does travel take you next...You name it, we talk it! Hoops talk, naw.......Never comes up...This is why you'll never hear me rip an NBA referee on the air.....Do they miss some? Yep...Do I miss some plays, or could I have called a play better? Absolutely! And, later in the season, I'll explain to you my experiences at NBA referees camp in September...Oh baby...Was that an eye opener for what the job entails!
Gotta' run, guys.....I'll see all of you soon!
My Cavaliers Best!
The Cavaliers free agent signee recently 'wowed' the team's season ticket holders and corporate sponsors, not to mention yours truly, at a Cavaliers-sponsored party at Cleveland's 'House of Blues'.
His stand-up routine is slick...targeting many teammates as unsuspecting objects of jokes, receiving uproarious laughter, and interacting with audience members, many who became his foils for subject matter.
Jones had the crowd absolutely howling when he proclaimed, in deadpan manner I might add, that rookie center Martynas Andriuskevicius should have a long NBA career, given that he's fellow Lithuanian Zydrunas Ilgauskas' "long lost stepson"! Crowd loved it!!! Jones then alerted the youngster that in just a short time span he too, like 'Z,' would soon be losing his hair! "It's a Lithuanian center thing," proclaimed Damon the Unplugged! The man could have a comedy career in his future. He's nice!
Speaking of 'Z'...the man and his lovely wife Jennifer were quite the world travelers this summer...life is great when you're armed with that sweet, and richly deserved, I might add, multi-year, mega-dollar free agent deal. Check this itinerary out: Fourth of July, celebrating with all the beautiful people at Wimbledon during the Grand Slam of tennis in England. Friends of world-ranked top-ten Marat Safin, of course. Sweet ten days enjoying strawberries and cream around London. Later, off to Tokyo for a taste of all that Japanese culture offers; then a jaunt to the Big Fella's native Lithuania to catch up with family and friends; and to top it off, adding a 100lb. Newfoundland "puppy' to the family. Z says 'Beckham's paws are already bigger than his feet! Maybe he'll be a world renowned soccer star like his famous namesake!
I've spoken many times this early season on the television side of Cavaliers basketball at how 'educating' and 'teaching laden' Mike Brown's practices are. Wow, the first year head coach can give you his defensive principles from here to there and back again. So, after shootaround in San Antonio last week, I'm speaking to him about the virtues of moving the basketball from side to side offensively and how it makes defenses make reactive decisions, and, here we go...the coach has grabbed my arm courtside, gotten me on the floor, and proceeds to spend the next five minutes breaking down what defenses must accomplish in court coverage and decision-making to recover in time to be effective. I love it! Just tremendous if you're into the 'x's and o's' of the game like I am...Mike Brown can absolutely teach the game...pay attention Cavaliers!
We're going to have some fun in this Cavaliers blog space this season you guys...I want you to be interactive with me...so let's fire our first question at all of you.
Which 'Brown' will win more with his team this season? Mike with the Cavaliers? Or coaching legend Larry with his New York Knicks? Give it some thought then email me your responses here at Cavs.com.
With seven of the next ten at home here at 'The Q', the Wine and Gold should have a very strong month of Thanksgiving to open this new season. I'll check you guys out courtside, on the tube, and here on the blog again soon.
My Cavaliers Best!
Prior to assuming his play-by-play duties with FSN Ohio on December 1, 1994, Reghi served for three NBA
seasons as the host of the pre and postgame shows, "Cavaliers Tonight". Reghi brings a wealth of NBA and
professional and collegiate sports broadcasting experience to Cavaliers telecasts as he began with FSN Ohio
in a variety of capacities at its inception in 1989.
Beginning with the 2004 season, Reghi joined ESPN as a Major League Baseball play-by-play voice, calling
the action of numerous telecasts on the network's Monday and Wednesday Night baseball shows.
For the previous seven baseball seasons, (1997-2003) Reghi served as the lead television play-by-play voice
for the Baltimore Orioles on Comcast SportsNet, and The Orioles Television Network, calling all the action of the
155 game per year telecasts. In his final season with the Orioles, Reghi received the prestigious Emmy Award
for excellence in television sports play-by-play announcing from the Nation's Capital/Chesapeake Bay Chapter
of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his work.
In addition, Reghi served as the play-by-play talent for the Cleveland Browns on WKYC-TV3, during the 1999
NFL preseason, and will call selected NFL games for national sports radio networks during this 2005 season.
During the 2000-2001 season, he added play-by-play duties for the nationally ranked University of Cincinnati
basketball squad to his impressive resume, and has continued to call selected Bearcats games on television
This fall and winter, Reghi begins his 20th season calling college football and basketball play-by-play,
including games with the Mid-American Conference, The Big Ten, Conference USA, and The Atlantic 10
Conference. His play-by-play portfolio extends to the Canadian Football League, where he announced games
for ESPN/ESPN2 from 1993-1996. In addition, from 1995-1997, he worked with Creative Sports doing television
play-by-play for both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University football telecasts.
A graduate of Arizona State University, and a 25 year broadcast veteran, Reghi began his career with WLIOTV
in Lima, Ohio in 1980 as a sports anchor. He then served as a sports anchor for WDHO-TV in Toledo for one
year, before moving to WEWS-TV5 in Cleveland, where he served as the weekend sports anchor from 1983-
1986. Prior to joining FSN Ohio, Reghi was the Sports Director and play-by-play talent for WTVG-TV13 in
Toledo, where he anchored three shows daily, and called play-by-play for both University of Toledo and Bowling
Green football and basketball telecasts.
From 1991-1996, Reghi served as a host on Sports Radio WKNR in Cleveland, handling both Cleveland
Browns and Cleveland Indians pre and postgame calling shows. He also hosted sportstalk shows with WERE
Radio in Cleveland from1984-1985.
Michael is the proud parent of a 3 year old son, Calisto, and resides in Westlake.