Monday, June 25, 2007

Behind the Scenes Stories on the Cavs Beat

In case you don't read the Cavs Blog, yesterday in Brian Windhorst blog he linked to Bob Finnan's (News Hearald beat writer) behind the scences stories on the Cavs. Here are the links to the story, part 1, part2 and part 3.





Two of my favorite's from the story:




After the game, some goofball radio guy asked James, "Do you take little LeBron to Chuck E. Cheese?" James answered him, too. Then, said dope follows up with another question, "Do you get more women as LeBron the basketball player or the businessman?" That's when Cavs media director Tad Carper sprung into action. "All right, out!" Carper yelled. "Out!" Cavs guard Eric Snow, sitting nearby in the locker room, chuckled all through the exchange. Two weeks before, the radio guy asked then-Indiana Pacers forward Stephen Jackson about his "weapon of choice."




We've seen enough-
Wesley drove hard to the basket in the Dallas game and, somehow, ventured too far under the basket. His layup attempt was blocked by the rubber foaming on the bottom of the basket support. One jokester said they should have stopped the game, dragged out a podium and microphone, and allowed him to announce his retirement on the spot. As it was, Wesley didn't play more than a couple minutes the rest of the season.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Kimbo vs. anything that mooooves....

I mentioned to some friends this street fighter named Kimbo Slice who is a bodyguard for some porn kings and fights for money anyone who wants to step to him. Tonight he is fighing bareknuckled (I think) against former heavyweight champ and Olympian (and 46-year-old) Ray Mercer. (UPDATE: He choked out Mercer in the first round...most of the internet videos have just punchouts though.)

Here's a link to some youtube videos of him (but you might need to sign in because it's 18+), and here's a sample video.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hockey Writer attacks ESPN

I saw this item in the USA Today about the "reporters" (including the sports guy) for ESPN. It seems like a blogger for the Colorado Avanlanche has some choice things to say about the folks over in Bristol and what they call journalism. You can read more about here and here.

Personally I can understand where this guy is coming from. I'm sure ESPN does do their homework (on some things) but it seems sometimes they just take a story and run with it before checking the sources. I guess that's what we get for needing to know things the instant they happen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Virgin Pimps are in the House!


Reggie Theus was named the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.
If I was him I would have gone into modeling. He's very sexy!!

Wrestling is fake


The above is a difficult admission for me to make, but I know it to be true. However, plenty of folks in this country are apparently still deluding themselves about pro wrestling’s legitimacy, because some poor reporter at The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, PA, had to write a story “revealing” that Vincent K. McMahon is indeed alive and not the victim of a heinous limo-bombing.

Here’s the story from the paper’s website. My editorial comments are in italics:

Vince McMahon’s hoax goes up in smoke


WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Did Vince McMahon, who’s bluffed and blustered his way into the ringmaster’s role of the testosterone-fueled soap opera that is professional wrestling, really fall for the old bomb-in-the-limo trick?

Though World Wrestling Entertainment would have you believe otherwise, the answer is no.


“No one was in any danger,” said Steve Poremba of Monday night’s WWE RAW spectacle at the Wachovia Arena, though he would not elaborate until WWE had sent out a news release.


Despite articles on the wrestling federation’s Web site that firefighters and federal agents are investigating, workers at the Luzerne County 911 Center confirmed that it was “a stunt” and that no emergency vehicles were called to the arena on Monday night. It was more of a “work” than a “stunt” if you want to get technical. In other words, the hellacious explosion that took Mr. McMahon’s life is part of an ongoing storyline (see below).


Fans from across the country have been contacting local media to confirm reports that McMahon, the chairman of the board of WWE, was blown up in a fiery limo-bombing on his very own “Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night,” which was televised on USA Network. McMahon had walked out of the building to the waiting vehicle, so fans inside the arena saw the same televised live scene. I hate to talk about my wrestling-watching brethren this way, but they are idiots. They should've just called the FBI like I did.


Only it was wasn’t live. Supervised by Zenith Pyrotechnology, based in Deer Park, N.Y., the explosion was actually filmed at the arena late Saturday night, the footage of the burning hulk taped Sunday night and the whole mess spliced together, said Andy Kratz, the township’s zoning officer.


“They did it, I believe, at 11 o’clock at night until 3 a.m. so no one would be around,” he said, adding that it was done in a section generally blocked from public view by the building and surrounding land features. This is what’s called “breaking kayfabe,” i.e. giving away industry secrets, a practice tacitly frowned upon in wrestling circles.


The pyrotechnics company had to get permits, which Kratz said they did about a week ago. “We have pyrotechnics shows in the arena all the time” for wrestling and ice skating, among other things, he said. “They say they do this quite a bit,” but usually not outside.

Representatives of the pyrotechnics company have not returned calls for comment.


The stunt seems to be part of an ongoing story of McMahon’s spiral into insanity, which wwe.com has been supporting with repeated updates of the faux-bombing story. i.e. “work.” If anybody's offended by McMahon faking his death, the "exploding limo" angle ranks low on the list of tawdry storylines WWE has given viewers over the last 10 years. One gruesome example is the RAW where Triple H dressed up like Kane, broke into a funeral home, and sexually molested a "corpse." Wacky stuff.

“Over the last few weeks on WWE programming, the swaggering, well-off billionaire seemed to unravel right before the eyes of millions. … Mr. McMahon even cited the looming of a “black cloud” last week – a cloud very similar to the post-combustive smoke that billowed above his limousine tonight,” the Web site reported. “The ominous reality is that what was brushed off as incoherent ramblings of a broken man and former ECW World Champion actually may have proven to be an exercising of a recently discovered sixth sense.” Ah, nothing like WWE subtlety...light as a feather’s touch as usual. Bravo!


WWE representatives have not yet returned a call for comment. No doubt busy churning out the next chapter of this thrilling storyline. WWE’s writers may be hacks, but Vince blowing up in his limo still beat the series finale of Sopranos.

The winds of change...?

Brian Windhorst has so much in his article and blog today, I don't know where to begin, but here's some interesting tidbits:


--Based on my read of the winds at the Q, the Cavs won't be going to the wall to keep Anderson Varejao. The buzzword these days is flexibility, I think the Cavs would rather let him walk than pay him crazy money (like, say, $8-$10 a year as has been predicted by some). But it is going to be hard to determine what he's worth because there aren't comparable players. That said they would prefer to sign him. Read the story for a complete understanding.

...Drew Gooden is more talented overall, and he'll be making $6.4 million next season. It's hard to fathom the Cavs will want to give Varejao, who made $945,000 this season, as much as or more than Gooden...

Sasha Pavlovic is in the same boat as Varejao, restricted, but there seems to be a greater likelihood the Cavs will keep him. It is doubtful he would get an offer above the midlevel exception from a team with cap space. Plus, the Cavs probably will put out the word they intend to match offers, which may scare away competition. Pavlovic's market was hurt this week when the Toronto Raptors traded for Carlos Delfino. Toronto was a team believed to be interested in Pavlovic.

Of the free agents out there, a league source suggests the Cavs might show the most interest in guard Steve Blake. They nearly offered him a contract two summers ago, and they like him as a ball handler and a shooter. He might be a more economical option than some others out there. You will hear a lot about Earl Boykins, the talented scorer and Cleveland native who has made no secret that he would love to finish his career in his hometown. The Cavs might shy away because he's a bit of a shoot-first player, and his size would present defensive issues on a team that thinks defense first.

Both Ira Newble and Damon Jones have asked management to be traded, although it's not really a demand. Jones can still shoot, but coach Mike Brown doesn't seem to trust him on defense, and that might never change. Plus, Daniel Gibson and Shannon Brown probably will play in front of him next season. Although Newble, who hasn't played much in the past two years, might not seem like an asset, he is. He has an expiring contract next season, and that has value. So does David Wesley, who has a $2 million deal with only $250,000 guaranteed. So, for example, the Cavs could move Newble, Wesley and Jones in the same deal, throw cash in and still pick up a player (or players) making as much as $11.1 million while greatly reducing the other team's salary-cap commitments.

He also makes some critiques about Lebron (the offense often stalls because of Lebron, not in spite of him, he's not fundamentally sound and he changes too much (great observation), and that everyone knows that it's definitely not Mike Brown telling him to post up 22 feet from the hoop--he is not comfortable down in the post.

UPDATE: After 5 minutes of searching, I couldn't find any pictures of Lebron posting up (shocking!), so I used a picture of this guy instead.

Monday, June 18, 2007

FYI

I changed the RSS feed for the blog it should help linking to the blog through Google Reader, My AOL, etc. easier. If anyone has this blog on their reader you will need to click the orange rss logo on the right to re-subscribe to this feed. By the way if you haven't noticed there is a lot more going on with the blog. Let me know if you guys like the changes.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Selby is GOD! (and a Hall of Famer)

Those of you who from the church of Selby should know that Bill Selby has been elected to the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame.

Yipee-kiyay...mickificki?


The wussification of the American action movie continues unabated. The latest victim of this sad trend is Bruce Willis, who bloodily dispatched Eurotrash terrorists in “Die Hard” and corrupt military officers in “Die Hard 2.” It’s been 12 years since “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” which sucked but at least it wasn’t PG-13, which is the rating the MPAA has given “Live Free or Die Hard.”

That is a crime. People going to a “Die Hard” movie don’t want watered down action and mid-level swears-- they want non-speaking henchmen and secondary characters getting sucked into jet engines and stabbed through the eye with an icicle. They want John McClane dropping f-bombs left and right. They want the occasional topless girl. (I think there was one in the first film). Overshadowing all of these important issues is the inevitable loss of the franchise’s famously vulgar catchphrase. You cannot say “motherfucker” in a PG-13 movie. You can use one or two f-words and keep your PG-13, as long as those f-words don't imply intercourse. To put it simply, one can say “What the fuck are you doing?” and keep teens and their disposable income in their seats. Say “I want to fuck you” and that PG-13 flies right out the window and you’re left with “R.”

So where does that leave us with LFODH? What will Bruce Willis coolly utter when he’s about to deliver the coup de grace to the lead villain? Perhaps the filmmakers saw the TV edit of “Die Hard 2” on TBS, when Willis was heard to remark “Yipee-kiyay Mister Falcon” before blowing up the bad guys’ plane. I laughed at this edited-for-content scene, but it didn’t make much sense. There’s nobody named Mister Falcon in “Die Hard 2.” If I was the director of LFODH I’d take a page from those who edited “Do The Right Thing” for television. “Motherfucker,” which is said perhaps 150 times by Mookie and friends, was turned into “Micki-Ficki” for the delicate free-cable audience.

I think that will have to do.

Friday, June 15, 2007

White Pell is in the Building

Sam , here's my starting 5 anniversary team just to give a different look than yours:
PG- Magic Johnson
SG- MJ
SF- Bird
PF- Barkley
C- Olajuwon

I watched Sopranos again, and i guess the ending was fair IF it was meant for Tony to get whacked. Like Sam said, he wasn't necessarily saving character, hinting at the impending indictment. Someone sent me an email saying how everyone in that diner was in a past episode (whatever that's supposed to represent), and the dude that walked in was Phil Leotardo's son. I have no idea, and don't care enough to go searching through every episode to find out. Gandolfini even weighed in on the ending if yall go to the AOL homepage. Chase did hint that some people's opinions are more accurate than others, with the article specifically referring to the Tony & Bobby conversation on the boat earlier this season that "everything goes to black" when the end comes along. I still think he tried to stick it in all of us by making us think our tv sets blacked out in the end. Oh well, I'm done with gangster movies for a while. It's just too much of the same thing with tv and Hollywood most of the time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Abre Los Ojos...


and get used to what you are seeing. I have a feeling this may become the norm over the next few years. The Cavs will average 50-55 wins, get to at least the conference finals, and when they do reach the Finals they will get crushed by ______(fill in the blank with any of about 6 Western Conference teams and with Oden and Durant going out west that number may grow.)


I am still flabergasted on how just about all of you looked at this Series and thought we would win. What makes it even more crazy is most of you, and most of Cleveland, thought the Spurs are a better team, with a better coach, with homecourt in a 7 game series. You knew that and yet thought the Cavs would win?? As the Guiness guys say "Brilliant."


I'm not God nor due I claim to be, I'm just gifted.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vox in the Box (15)



What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?
-- Those Winter Sundays, Robert Hayden, 1962

You can replace "love's" in that poem with "The NBA's" and that's basically how I felt after predicting a Nets victory in Game 6. Lotta things happened since Vox last left you. The Cavs fed me the tastiest shitburger I have ever eaten. That was a tasty, tasty shitburger. Can I have a sip of your Pepsi to wash that shitburger down? Yes, I'm also the one that predicted the Cavs would go down in Round 1 back in November. More shitburgers. I'm praying Mike Brown and SVAC will feed me one more, as I am here to bury him and his team. This series is over, almost before it started. Shouldn't surprise us...if it wasn't for a miracle shot by Derek Fisher in 2004 and an incredible three by Dirk Dallas in OT of Game 7 WCF, Tim Duncan and San Antonio would be on the verge of their 6th title.

But I'm not 100% clueless just yet. In March, I pegged this group as the best Cavalier defensive team I'd ever seen. Going back to my bold November predictions, I missed the Cavalier regular season win total by one game and correctly anticipated that the Cavs would play an unmotivated regular season. I felt the Cavs would take the East if they did manage to escape Round 1. I had the Spurs coming out of the West even then, when most national beats were jerking off Dallas and Phoenix. And in my playoff predictions, I had the Cavs and Nets as the real ECF, noting that either team would dismantle 'Roit. If you missed the stat on Simmons, the Pistons never led by more than 8 in the entire series. The Nets twice beat us easily, which made them the tougher opponent. Unfortunately neither team had the skill and coaching chops of the Spurs. I confess I'm one of those idiots that felt the gap between the East and West was minimal, based on the Heat's handling of the overrated Mavs last year. But the Spurs clearly have gears SVAC doesn't. It's been too painful for me to watch The Finals.

Not too much pain, however, in the Sopranos finale. I was ready to mourn Tony. At either his funeral or his sentencing. However, while the nation watched Meadow parallel park...David Chase was laughing his ass off on his sofa, playing his loyal audience like puppets, knowing we would always search for drama and significance in the wrong places. You can always count on Americans to not do their homework, as one writer said. We want the bloodbath; the easy resolution. And I can't blame anyone who criticizes Chase for letting his prized creation off the hook. He violated the most important rule of writing fiction, you can't save character; Tony had to go down (you've heard me say that for 6 years). But, for seven seasons, Chase never spoon-fed us anything. As Rob Sheffield wrote in his adios to Tony in Rolling Stone this week, "Sopranos can be a victim of its own classiness." Aside from the high body counts, it was one of the most realistic television shows ever. And I think the ending served the show quite well. Over a burger, Tony's lawyer tells him there is a 90% chance of indictment. There you have it. The fact that we'll never actually see it means that Chase didn't feel a Tony-goes-to-prison scene was important to the show's vitality.

For me, the important message was the title of the episode, Made in America. I always felt Tony represented America. We eat, we play, we joke, but there's always a 3000 lb. elephant hanging over our heads, ready to drop at any unsuspecting minute. We succumb to temptation. We argue, we fuck, we lie but we can justify it all because we do whatever we can to support our families. After all the bullshit, the posturing, the manipulating, the scheming...Tony is flipping through the jukebox for one of Carmella's favorite tunes (We know this because Don't Stop Believin' played in Season 2 while Carmella anxiously awaited the arrival of the contractor she was hot for, Victor Musto.) Yes, we should've known the final scene would be the family at dinner. Season one ended the same way, because Chase believed his "niche" narrative would never get picked up for a second season. As a fan and critic, I was all over the writers for violating character this season. But I can't blame Chase for the ending's ambiguity. It was dripping with symbolism, it was shot beautifully, it was inhumanely tense, and Steve Perry's soothing tenor redeems: Oh, the movie never ends/ It goes on and on and on and on

1995 Tribe vs 2007 Cavs: The reason you prefer the Belle-Baerga Tribe, the Price-Daugherty Cavs and the Kosar-Slaughter Browns is because you were young, not because those players were more "likeable." Believe me, the youthful mind will idealize everything. Lets compare: Albert Belle was an A-1 asshole, Kenny Lofton was surly, Jose Mesa was married and groped a chick from 1148 in a hotel room. Today's Tribe (Hafner, Sizemore, Sabathia) are model citizens. Brad Daugherty is a classless bitch and pretends he never played in Cleveland. Ry, you felt you were smarter than Hot Rod when you were 12. How likeable was that? The current Cavs are maybe the nicest team in the NBA with LeBron, Z, Larry Hughes, Coach Brown, etc. And the mid 80's Browns? I seem to remember a story about Slaughter allegedly holding some chick down in a limo so his boy Langhorne could dry-sex her. The Cleveland sports stars of our childhood were no better than today. They were probably worse, but we had our innocence then. To quote Western coach Pete Bell: you took da purest thing in your life and corrupted it.

I respect those who preferred the Tribe's '95 playoff run to now...but the fact that it was our first experience with a winner shouldn't hold much weight in the debate. Anything less than the pennant for that team would've been a disaster. They did what they were expected to do-- beat the inferior Red Sox and Mariners. On the other hand, the Cavs and their crappy offense overachieved by beating the #1 seed...and for me, that's much sweeter.
Hence, this risky analogy: I lost my virginity to Mrs. Vox. Sure, it was memorable because it was my first time- but it was expected. We had been seriously dating for like 6 weeks; it was inevitable. But, let's say I go to a bar this weekend and Elisha Cuthbert or Fergie walks in. There are a ton of famous, rich, good-looking guys with Bentleys there, but I end up leaving with Cuthbert and banging her in my Solara. Now which event gave me more satisfaction/joy? Losing my virginity to my future wife or unexpectedly banging Fergie at 20-1 odds?

Back to basketball, this is my 20th season of following The Association and here is SamVox's All Anniversary NBA Team 1987-2007:

PF: Tim Duncan (I was a doubter when he was at Wake Forest, and I've never been more wrong about any player in my life)
SF: LeBron James (Game 5 cements him in my mind; more on that below)
C: Akeem Olajowon (Sing it Billy Joel: he can add on the H, but he's always an Akeem to me)
SG: MJ (That would be funny if I put Drazen Petrovic or Mitch Richmond or someone like that.)
PG: Isiah Thomas (Isiah, post me up -- Olden Polynice, 1991)

ClevelandSportsTotrure.blogspot.com rejocice! The Randumb Top 10 returns:

SamVox's Top 10 Cleveland Sports Victories:

1. Cavs 109 Pistons 107 OT, Game 5, ECF, May 31, 2007, The Palace of Auburn Hills Honest to God...I can think of only five moments in my life that made me happier than seeing SVAC pull off this minor miracle in 'Roit:

* May 4, 2006. Rainbow Hospital. The night the Goose was born.
* June 12, 1998. Ohio Stadium. Getting a diploma from The Ohio State University. I often think they're going to ask for it back someday. And they can have it...it's pretty much worthless. But, at the time, getting that red piece of cardboard was completely surreal when you consider I graduated by a nose hair and spent every quarter but the first and last on academic warning/probatiion.
* May 24, 1997. Ohio Stadium. I come face to face with Paul David Hewson for the first time. Too much hot air on the disappointing PopMart tour, but I'm still pretty sure Bono was looking right at me during Streets.
* October 25th, 2003. Memphis in the passenger's seat of my car for the first time, sitting happily on Mrs. Vox's lap. Until I saved him from that awful foster home, I was a complete waste of a human being.
* January 3, 2003, Froms's house. Where I witnessed our first and only championship. I'll never forget Cie Grant closing in on Dorsey and that football falling incomplete. We've always had the best damn band in the land. Now we got da best damn team in da land.
(Ironic that two of my life's top 5 moments were in the 'Shoe, and neither involved football.)

Anyway, Game 5 was the best NBA game I've ever seen, featuring the greatest performance I've ever witnessed from a singular athlete in a team sport. I was positively giddy afterwards, mentally and physically exhausted and in a state of pure detroit shock. Seeing their fans sulking, stuck in their seats long after the game ended and unable to move was a fantastic feeling. They didn't believe what they just saw. I didn't either.

2. Indians 5 Red Sox 4, thirteen innings, Game 1, ALDS, October 3, 1995, Jacobs Field
We were all virgins to the baseball playoffs, but were soon broken in by bat-gate and Tony Pena's unbelievable game winning homer in extra innings. And how cruel it would've been if we had dropped the first game at home in a best of five series after winning 100 games and dominating the AL. Although we were far superior to Boston, their line-up still boasted Mo Vaughn, Jose Canseco and Mike Greenwell. Had they espcaed with the victory, that might've propelled the Sox to a series upset that Cleveland would've never recovered from.

3. Cavs 114 Bullets 113 OT Game 6, Eastern Conference Quaterfinals, May 5, 2006, MCI Center
I watched this at Rainbow in our tiny hospital room, just 24 hours after Goose was born. It had been 13 years since SVAC won a playoff series. Arenas nails a three pointer from almost half-court to send the game into OT, only to choke at the line when the Bullets had a chance to ice it. Damon Jones hits the unforgettbale game winning shot that I had predicted 6 months earlier, sending me into a silent hysteria...so as not to wake all of the babies sleeping in the new-born wing.

4. Force 5, Baltimore 1, Conference Semifinals, Game 5, May 1986, Richfield Coliseum
The previous game, Kai Hasskivi had scored an impossible goal with seconds remaining to send the game into overtime and we pulled it out in Baltimore to "force" a decisive Game 5 in Cleveland against the nemesis Blast. And it was the loudest I'd ever heard the Coliseum. Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the fourth quarter, the Force found themselves two men down after critical yellow cards. It would've been an improbable feat to kill that power-play against the offensively-gifted Blast. But then the unthinkable happened when Blast goalie Scott Manning was caught out of position trying to gain a three-man advantage and Dennis Mempham scored a short-handed goal . Then he hit on my mom a few years later. I will never forget either moment.

5. Indians 3 Yankees 2, ALDS, October 5, 1997, Jacobs Field
What a duel between Hersheiser and Gooden. Tribe comes in down 2 games to 1 in the series. Eighth inning. One out. Rivera on the mound to close the series out. Sandy homers. Indians go on to win and then take Game 5 the following night. Ironically, that was the closest Doc ever got to a post-season win. He had signed my poetry book just 4 months earlier and privately, I was praying for a great performance by him and a Tribe win. That seemed too much too ask, but that's exactly what happened. I scored the game and still have it saved. Two months later, John Hart signs Doc on that strength of that performance. Beating the Yankees in the playoffs 1996 thru 2001 didn't happen much. Twice to be exact. The Tribe in '97 and 'Zona in the '01 series.

6. Browns 23 Jets 20, 2 OT, AFC Divisional Playoff, January 3, 1987, Cleveland Municipal Stadium
Maybe the most remembered Cleveland victory of our lifetime. Jets were up 20-10 with 4 minutes left; Bernie put us on his back. This is the one game on the list I missed, as Froms and I were playing indoor soccer and missed the first 4 quarters. Some father was yelling the score out while we played. Guess who?

7. Indians 2 Orioles 1, twelve innings, Game 3, ALCS, October 11, 1997, Jacobs Field
Classic battle between the then-unhittable Mke Mussina and the bulldog. Mesa blows the save in the 9th. With the winning run at 3rd in the twelfth inning, Omar attempts to bunt and fouls it off. O's catcher Lenny Webster misses the ball, and Grissom steals home because the umpire rules that Omar never made contact. Froms and I watched in the bleachers while some dude nearby gave us play-by-play of an important OSU/Penn State football game that was happening simultaneously in Happy Valley. The Buckeyes lost. The amazing, amazing irony is that one year earlier, I was attending a very meaningful OSU/Penn State game at the 'Shoe while the Tribe and Baltimore were playing Game 4 of the ALDS. This time, a fan in the south stands with a transister was giving us Tribe updates. The Buckeyes routed Penn State that afternoon, but the O's eliminated the Indians. The moral of the story, beyond the unbelievable coincidence, is that Froms and I are good luck together at a live sporting event. See #10.

8. Browns 34, Bills 30, AFC Divisional Playoff, January 6, 1990, Cleveland Stadium
Browns were up against a loaded Bills team on the verge of four straight AFC titles. It was a shootout, coming down to a final drive by Jim Kelly...and the Bills had multiple tries at the winning score. Ronnie Harmon dropped the game-winning TD in the endzone. Then, Clay Matthews intercepted Kelly to preserve the victory with three seconds left.

9. Indians 4 Mariners 0, Game 6, ALCS, October 17, 1995, Safeco Field
I can still recall the surge I felt in my chest when Lofton scored from second base on a passed ball, putting the finishing touches on a pennant-clinching win over Randy Johnson and the Mariners. Ry's On Fire would be recorded in the wee hours of that morning and plenty of Plain Dealer machines on High Street were criminally emptied.

10. Cavs 122, Boston 104, Game 7, Eastern Conference Semifinals, May 17 1992, Richfield Coliseum
Yall know about this legendary Sunday afternoon. Hadman, Froms & I on national TV, knifing through the turnstiles for NBC's opening segue. SVAC advance to the ECF, the mock tears in the nosebleeds, the end of Larry Bird's career.

All right, let's all hold hands. Sing this next one with me:
Tonight we're gonna take no prisoners
Tonight we're gonna live our dream
Tonight the wine and gold deliver
Hard workin' town, hard workin' team
I am Stanley in the box.
C'MON CAVS...parting is inevitable

Monday, June 11, 2007

Should Lebron have been taken out?

Brian Windhorst thinks taking Lebron out did not cause the Spurs blowout of the Cavaliers on Sunday night...

I am inclined to totally disregard the LeBron James foul trouble in the first quarter. While it is questionable whether Mike Brown left him out too long, I think he played the percentages in thinking long-term about the game. The Cavs lost six points on the scoreboard with James on the bench for nine minutes. I don't care what anyone says, that is an acceptable number under these circumstances. When the Cavs got buried by 14 points in the second quarter, James was out there the whole time and Tony Parker was on the bench a bunch.
But King Kaufman disagrees totally with that assessment...

...it looked to me like Brown and the Cavaliers gave this one away in the third minute of the first quarter, when LeBron James was sent to the bench with foul trouble after picking up his second.

I know what you're going to say: The Spurs ran away with the game while James was in the game, not on the bench.

The Spurs were leading 7-4 when James, helping on defense, foolishly slapped at the ball in Tim Duncan's hands, instead hitting his wrist and drawing his second foul with just over nine minutes left in the first quarter.

Brown, following coaching orthodoxy right over the cliff, sent his star to the folding chairs because he didn't want James to pick up his third foul, which would mean he'd be halfway to his sixth foul, which would mean he'd be disqualified, which would mean he might have to miss, oh, who knows, maybe nine minutes of game time!

Duncan hit both free throws for 9-4 and James sat for the rest of the quarter. Nine minutes. No need to foul out, LeBron. Your coach did it for you after you got your second foul. James ended up playing 38 minutes. He finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, six assists, six turnovers.

Three fouls.

So here's your point: With James on the bench for the rest of the quarter, the Spurs only outscored the Cavaliers 19-13. They led by 11 at quarter's end. The rout wasn't really on until the second period, when James was back on the floor. A 10-3 run in the first three and a half minutes boosted the lead to 18. Except for that garbage-time comeback, the Cavs were never in the game again.

It's a good point. James was on the floor when the game got out of hand. But he was playing like a guy who'd just spent nine minutes of game time, 31 minutes of "Sopranos" time, sitting on the bench and biting his fingernails.

He'd started the game in aggressive mode. On Cleveland's first three possessions, he'd had a rebound and put-back and two drives to the basket. Those resulted in a foul -- though he missed both free throws -- and a weak-side rebound and put-back by Drew Gooden, left all alone as the Spurs converged on James.

Just to review: If the Cavs are going to have a prayer in this series, they need James to go off in every game. No telling if he was going to go off in this one, but he'd gotten off to a good start. The one sure thing is that no player can take over a game from the bench.

When James returned, he was out of sorts and off his feed. On the Cavs' first two possessions of the quarter, he hoisted up 20-foot jumpers without an apparent thought of going to the rim. Both missed badly. Both times the Spurs got the rebound, dribbled upcourt, gave the ball to Tim Duncan and scored. All of a sudden it was 32-17, and 23-13 since James' benching.

Thirty-one minutes he sat. An NBA halftime is 15 minutes in the regular season, 20 in the playoffs, and the players spend several minutes at the end of it getting warmed up again and practicing their shot. James, accustomed to playing all but a few stolen rest minutes every night, had to come off the bench cold. That's a skill, and it's unreasonable to expect a guy who's been a starter every day since pee-wee ball to have it.

After his two bricks James didn't touch the ball on two of Cleveland's next three possessions. On the other, he traveled on a fast break. On the sixth possession of the quarter he was guarded closely by Bruce Bowen at the three-point line, picked up his dribble and sent a cross-court skip pass to Donyell Marshall, who launched one of his patented missed 3-pointers.

By the seventh possession it was 38-19 Spurs and the game was over. Since James had come out after his second foul: 29-15. A 14-point advantage in a little over 12 minutes. That's a rout.


James was just starting to wake up now. He at least started a drive to the basket before pulling up and missing a 15-footer, but he drew a foul and hit one of two free throws. Then the next two times down the floor he threw down a slam-dunk on a fast break and got fouled on a drive to the basket, making both foul shots this time. It was a 5-0 run for the Cavs, and it brought them to within 14.

It was bailing out the Titanic with a Dixie cup. It didn't matter. The Spurs shrugged, went on a 12-1 run and settled in to see if Tony would survive the last show.

There just wasn't any way. The Cavs have to do everything right to stay even with the Spurs and have a chance to steal the game at the end. If they're going to sit their best player down and spot San Antonio 14 points before he comes back and shakes the cobwebs loose, it doesn't really matter what happens once he's back on his game.

I'm making this sound like the Spurs were barely there, like Brown benching James was the key to San Antonio winning. It wasn't. San Antonio is the vastly superior team. The Spurs were probably going to win anyway. Brown benching James was the key to Cleveland having no chance.

With James on the floor for 48 minutes or close to it, the Cavs are a good Eastern Conference team that just might pull an upset over the Spurs, this being a crazy world and all. When he's on the bench, they're approximately the Milwaukee Bucks. He shouldn't be on the bench unless he needs a minute or two of rest or the rules prohibit him from being in the game.

So who do you think is right in this case?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Cleveland is playing for the Championship

The title are words I never thought I'd say if I wasn't also saying "I wonder if I should wear gloves because it might be freezing and I don't want to try to catch a Hafner ball barehanded." Sorry I'm getting a few months ahead of myself.

Zydrunas and Lebron and Boobie and Drew and Larry and Andy and Donyell and Damon and Eric and Sasha and the rest of the team are playing tonight for a championship and I am getting pretty excited. Fortunately (unlike college football), there's not 3 weeks to get over-excited and practically put myself in the hospital (see January, 2003).

The only national announcer I've seen pick the Cavs was Mike Golic this morning--and I never listen to that show--since I'm traveling for work, I had it on TV. But...of course he's from Cleveland so discount that. I truly wonder how many people outside Cleveland think the Cavs can win it...similar to how many people gave the Buckeyes a shot in 2002. (Or, ironically enough, Florida a shot in 2007.)

I don't know if they're going to win. But I do know they have a shot. If you don't think Lebron has grown in the last four games, you're crazy. (Do you remember that game 5 versus the Nets, after that did you think they'd be here?) At the same time, any national talking- (or writing-) head who says it's Lebron and 11 stiffs is an idiot.

I love Zydrunas, and I hope his jersey is hanging someday at the Q.

I hope Drew Gooden gets a fire lit under his ass like nothing else.

I hope Sasha and Boobie can get hot as hell, hopefully not only at the same time.

I hope Lebron elbows Bruce Bowen in the face.

I hope Anderson can play straight up defense and doesn't embarass himself flopping all over the floor.

And I hope it is sunny and 80 during the parade. This is not a guarantee, and if they get blown out in game 1, I will certainly be secondguessing, but I'm going to go Cavs in 6. They have shown a knack for good shots (as shown in the TrueHoop analysis) versus the Spurs. They have been shutting down offenses, and San Antonio's offense is not even that good.

It all boils down to one thing. Tony Parker. Some combination of Larry, Boobie, Eric, Lebron, Shannon Brown, Scot Pollard, I don't care...someone's gotta stop him. If he consistently breaks down the D...and Drew or Z can't stay home, we will be in trouble. God knows that Tim Duncan is hard enough to guard with someone on him.

Go Cavs.

PS Bill Simmons thinks I'm a fool. Just read this afterwards.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A couple scouting reports for the finals...

TrueHoop ran through every possession Lebron had versus the Spurs this year, and you might be surprised. Check out the whole article here, it's worth the read. Summarized a bit below:

The main point is that when LeBron James got the ball against San Antonio's defense, the Cavaliers managed to get a good shot an alarming percentage of the time. There were a smattering of offensive fouls, certainly. And a couple of times James forced a pass that was picked off.

I watched 50 possessions, between the two games. Eight times (nine if you count a pretty amazing Tim Duncan block of Anderson Varejao) the Spurs forced the Cavaliers into a turnover, an offensive foul, or a truly difficult shot.

Trusting my observations, that means the Cavaliers had good looks 84% of the time. Seems like a high number against any team, but especially San Antonio.

Those 42 times San Antonio was not successful? The Cavaliers either:

  • Scored.
  • Got fouled.
  • Scored and got fouled.
  • Missed easy shots (which they do sometimes).

I have a feeling what happens with those easy shots will decide the 2006-2007 NBA champion.

Interesting stuff. Not that it necessarily means that much, but you can read the play-by-play for the games here and here.

NBA.com's John Schuhmann, in detail, breaks down the defensive efforts of the Cavaliers.

YaySports! decries the claims that Detroit was ever a dynasty.

Speculation on what the Pistons will do to re-contend in future years.

From what I can find, most places don't think the Cavs can pull it off. Sportsline, ESPN, AOL, etc. In fact, AOL has a thing where you can rank the MVP candidates. #1-#4. The Cavaliers' representation: Lebron James, vs. Ginobli, Duncan, and Parker. Guess they're not giving Drew Gooden much of a chance.

And a blogger recounts his encounter with Lebron's entourage years ago.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Just when it can't get any better...

I still need a day or two to get my thoughts together on one of the best moments of my not-so-young sports life...but that Z-Lebron hug was awesome.

From the Sports Guy, from Brandon in L.A.:

"I love the NBA. Can you think of any other avenue in life in which a 22-year-old black kid from Akron, Ohio, would excitedly jump in the air and lovingly embrace for a good 20 seconds a 7-foot-3, 31-year-old from Lithuania?"
But the best part of Bill Simmons' blog is that he ripped apart Roger Brown! He's stealing that from me!!! (remember my letter to the PD like 6 years ago when he called Steve Bellisari an "above average quarterback"?)

6. Speaking of Bron, Kevin from Cleveland passed this along: "Here's a link from the News-Herald, a local paper just east of Cleveland, in which sportswriter Roger Brown puts you at No. 3 on the list of the six people who have done the most damage to their reputations since the Cavs-Pistons series. Here's what he wrote:

"Simmons spent months ripping and mocking James as an overhyped fraud -- and gained lots of national attention in the process. But after James' historic Game 5 performance, Simmons scrambled to save face in embarrassing fashion. He wrote a column on LeBron that was more slobbering and fawning than a 13-year-old girl writing a fan letter to Justin Timberlake."

Sorry, I have to respond to this one. First of all, if Roger can produce anything I've ever written that called him LeBron an "overhyped fraud," I will send him a $200 check to double the salary that the News-Herald is paying him every week. I think he has me confused with Charley Rosen.

Second, I love the idea that me "ripping" LeBron gained me national attention ... really? From who? Did I happen to be in a coma at the time? I criticized him in my Anna K. column from Miami (and rightfully so, Bron mailed in a game on national TV); my All-Star column from Vegas (where Bron's lack of enthusiasm for the season was a major topic, and if you don't believe me, check out the ESPN.com column by Brian Windhorst from March once LeBron started playing hard again, and this from a writer who's covered LeBron for his entire career); when LeBron made the absurd "global icon" comment; and a couple of times during the playoffs when Bron-Bron didn't seem properly enthused by the proceedings (and he wasn't). I don't regret a single thing I wrote about LeBron in the past year. Everything still stands.

And third, before Game 5 of the Detroit series, I picked the Cavs to win in 6 and wrote an extended section about LeBron showing signs of turning the corner and getting it in Games 3 and 4, to the point that I had my hopes up for Game 5 because there was a chance something truly special might happen. Here's the exact quote:

"The fact remains, No. 23 happens to be the only interesting thing about this painfully disjointed Pistons-Cavs series ... Like many others, I'm looking forward to Game 5 solely because of LeBron. Like many others, I want him to shift into fifth gear, hush the crowd, rip Detroit's heart out and make the Vivid Video face after everything's said and done. Like many others, I will be disappointed if this doesn't happen."

Bottom line: if you're going to rip another writer, make sure you've actually read the guy first.

And Bill also mentions Gus Johnson broadcasting Track and Field on CBS Sunday afternoon. I admit it, I watched it just because of Gus myself. But in my defense, I was hung over from Saturday's Cavs game still and didn't leave my couch most of the day.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

I LIKE THIS BOOBIE


That should be the front page headline of the PD today. I still can't believe it. I'm still in shock. Someone pinch me because I seriously think (and hope not) that I'm dreaming. Can this be real? Cleveland Cavaliers... Eastern Conference Champions... Cleveland Cavaliers... going to the NBA Finals. Holy shit! Once I gather my thoughts, I'll probably post a more complete take on this whole miraculous turn of events.

For now I can only remember back a few weeks ago when I posted a poll on our fantasy baseball board. How far will the Cavs go this year? That was the question. Two of my choices included: 1. I'm on drugs - the NBA Finals and 2. I'm on really good drugs - they're winning it all. Well let's hope it's really good drugs!

I've already ordered two Eastern Conference Champion T-shirts - the one they were wearing last night and an alternate grey one that the wife wanted. I will wear it with pride. And hopefully I'll be ordering an NBA Champions T-shirt in a couple weeks.

Is it time to change the name of this blog?

Nothing like it...

Saturday, June 2, 2007