Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Big Splash*

*My pseudo-clever headline is just a sad appetizer of the hackish smorgasbord that awaits sports fans as both the media and blogosphere attempt to give the newest Cavalier a Cleveland-centric nickname. A dozen wacky nom de plumes have already been floated...the dumbest is The Big Pierogi. Really now, that’s just too much.

If you’re a Cleveland fan, how can you not like the trade bringing Shaquille O’Neal to town? Every story about the deal should begin and end with, “The Cavaliers got a 15-time All Star for nothing:” Creaky Ben Wallace was mostly ineffective in his achy, short-lived wine-‘n-gold career. Sasha Pavlovic, while not without athleticism and raw skill, possesses a low basketball IQ to go along with his maddening inconsistency. Let Sasha drive some other fanbase nuts with his lousy ball-handling and inability to finish around the rim.

Perhaps the one regret I have with this trade is the jettisoning of $500,000 to the Suns. Dan Gilbert could have used that money to dress the dance team in tasteful French maid outfits, or to elevate the earsplitting intensity of the pregame introductions from “jackhammer” to “F-14 Tomcat exploding in mid-takeoff.”

Acquiring Shaq is certainly a gamble. The big man, who is slower afoot than even Z, will be 38 once next year’s playoffs begin. It’s likely Shaq will have to sit on some back-to-back nights to preserve his aging carcass for the post-season. He has an ego to match LeBron’s and will no doubt want his touches down low, leading some pundits to believe Shaq will clog the paint and stall a Cavaliers offense that is not exactly dynamic in the first place.

On the happy side of the ledger, the star of “Steel” and “Kazaam,” who has also recorded numerous rap songs with such brilliantly subtle titles as “Shoot Pass Slam,” “Boom!” and “I Hate 2 Brag,” is still a physical presence. Shaq had somewhat of a resurgence last year in Phoenix, and while he is not the titanic force of his Orlando and early-decade L.A. Lakers days, he may still have enough juice left to remind Cleveland fans of his strong if not dominant second-banana pairing with Dwayne Wade in Miami.

You can also say goodbye to those annoying Cavaliers’ double-teams on opposing big men. It’s no secret that Orlando murdered us on those Dwight Howard doubles during the Eastern Conference finals—Mike Brown’s defense simply could not contain Howard down low, nor stop him from finding open shooters. I’ll take even a twilight-era Shaq bodying up Howard if that allows our perimeter guys to stay the hell home on Hedo Turkoglu (who hopefully will leave Orlando via free agency) and friends.

Did I mention The Big Pierogi’s outsized ego? Arrogance can be an advantage, too. Shaq just watched Kobe Bryant win a ring...he and his former running buddy are now tied at four championships a piece. Shaq will want one for the thumb...why can’t the Cavaliers, and by extension us, be the beneficiary of his petty, immature, ego-driven gamesmanship?

And if heaven forbid this Big Experiment doesn’t work during what will be LeBron’s lord-help-us walk year? Well, Shaq’s $21 million contract only runs through next season, allowing Danny Ferry to ditch The Big Chuck & Lil’ John and sign one of the glamorous free agents of the 2010 class...along with LeBron of course.

The acquisition of Shaq is not the only move Ferry will make, either. He has cited the need for an athletic wing man/shooter to help LeBron on offense, perhaps allowing Delonte West to come off the bench. There's also the matter of resigning free agent Anderson Varejao, as well as finding a back-up point guard.

Whatever transpires, the buzz around this team is going to be deafening come November. Maybe, just maybe, we will be joining Shaq and LeBron on Euclid Avenue for the parade, all of us crying hysterically like a Swedish girl at a Michael Jackson concert. The soon-to-be Big Cuyahoga can make our golden dreams come true!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

...and the Big Man joined the Band!

The Cavs and Suns just agreed to a trade bringing Shaq to town. Now the minimum this will give us is the best one-two introduction skit in the Enn Bee Ay! At the max, a huge presence that will give the Cavaliers a damn good shot at winning 60 games again, and a much better shot at holding their own against the top teams in the Association.

More on the deal when I'm more awake.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Star Trek: The Review

(This review may contain minor spoilers)
Full disclosure: I am not a Trekkie.
I don’t remember much from the original series besides campiness and hammy acting. I have fleeting memories of blue-skinned alien girls in beehive hairdos and spangled eye-shadow; spaceship interiors that looked like Hugh Hefner’s den (velour furniture, purple wall sconces); Spock mind-melding with a paper-maché creature that resembled a moldy pizza (that was a weird episode); and red-shirted ensigns being gruffly pronounced “dead, Jim” by Leonard “Bones” McCoy.
The classic show led to numerous spin-offs, and while I have my nerdish leanings, I’m not a fan of “hard sci-fi,” a term that sounds pornographic, but unfortunately is not. All it means is the writers of “Deep Space Nine” and “The Next Generation” got the theoretical science right when it came to explaining the intricacies of warp drives and particle accelerators. I went to summer school for high-school algebra for Spock’s sake, so crazy moon-man talk about quantum physics fried my non-math-understanding synapses.
All I wanted out of J.J. Abrams’sStar Trek” reboot was an intelligent, character-driven sci-fi/ action movie, a scarce multiplex commodity in these dark days of Bay, Ratner and Emmerich.
Abrams did not have to march lockstep with the franchise’s much obsessed over canon to make me happy, and truly, the red-hot “Lost” creator does his damndest to make the movie his own while (hopefully) keeping even the crotchetiest Trekkie pleased. The result is an ambitious, well-cast, but ultimately imperfect sci-fi experience.
The story smartly twists the origins of the famous USS Enterprise crew. Abrams contrives an alternate “Trek” universe that uses the series’ beginnings as a kind of pushing off point. The result is an all-new film cosmos that recognizes the origin story while remaining free of that story’s sticky narrative constraints.
Unfortunately, Abrams makes his solid if clichéd time travel/revenge plot less important than the re-introduction of the Enterprise crew. Abrams knows how familiar fans are with these mainstays, and ensures most everyone hits their stock catchphrases and shopworn character moments. Chekhov mis-pronouncing “V” words with “W?” It’s in there. McCoy grouchily insisting he’s a doctor, not a physicist, dammit? That’s there, too. Young Kirk hooks up with a blue alien babe, and there’s even a “red-shirt moment” (Ah, Chief Engineer Olson, we hardly knew ye) for particularly nostalgic fans.
I understand the necessity of offering such filmic signposts to help re-launch a foundering franchise. However, this new “Star Trek” has almost too much of a prologue feel.
A game cast of virtual unknowns elevates the proceedings, and gives me hope for the inevitable sequel. Chris Pine gets Capt. Kirk’s brash arrogance just right without having to do a William Shatner impression, while Zachary Quinto’s Spock is all simmering emotion under that placid Vulcan exterior. Karl Urban’s McCoy channels a bit too much from DeForest Kelley’s original-series performance, but it’s still a dead-on imitation. The only cast member who suffers is Eric Bana, whose villainous Romulan ship captain doesn’t get enough screen time to be a daunting presence.
My tiresome hair-splitting aside, I recognize that “Star Trek” is in talented hands. From his work on “Lost,” “Alias” and the fun monster flick “Cloverfield,” Abrams has shown he knows how to craft a smart, action-packed product. A meatier plot for the sequel will ensure his new franchise both lives long and prospers.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Great Defense?

I think now is as good a time as any to revisit the Cavaliers "great" defense. Many of us on this blog have had this debate over the last 2 years or so and maybe now you see my point, this Cavs team has a good defense not a great defense.

Please don't bother throwing all the statistics at me, I am aware of how good a regular season they had. If you need any proof that they are not great defensively simply re-watch all 6 games against Orlando. It was sickening to see how many wide open 3's the Magic shot. I heard and read over and over how great the Magic shot in the series and how there wasn't much that the Cavs could do with a team shooting that well. How about not allowing so many wide open shots, getting a hand in their face, playing "great" defense. Many teams would shoot that well from long range if they are wide open.

The worst part is the Cavs defense this year was better than in years past when many of you argued how great they were.

A great defense may look bad a game or 2 in a 7 game series but a great defense would adjust, it certainly would not continue to allow wide open 3 after wide open 3.

So Froms and Vox rather than carry on this silly debate, just apologize for some of the name calling and admit I as right.

Then I will move on to Froms silly "Mike Brown is a great playoff coach" statement.

LeBron and Byner (but not the reason you think...)

Last week we saw as some national writers tried to turn a possible (and eventual, it turns out) loss by the Cavaliers into a giant choke job, on par with The Fumble. One writer even glossed him LeByner.

On the other hand, David Aldridge says that LeBron James should take a page out of Earnest Byner's handbook, and show the graciousness of a defeated player. Byner, who answered reporters questions over and over after The Fumble. Byner, who Aldridge says LeBron should call at the Tennessee Titan's headquarters.

After the clock ran down to zero Saturday night ... you walked off the court without shaking a single Orlando player's hand. Not one word of congratulations to a team that beat yours fair and square, after a tough series. That was poor sportsmanship, LeBron, no matter how you or any of your followers, acolytes and media protectors say otherwise.

No one likes to lose, especially someone as competitive as you, who's as used to winning, and winning big as you. You have won more in your short life than most people do in their entire lives. But that doesn't give you the right to be a poor loser, on the rare occasions that you lose.

Then, you got dressed, and walked out without speaking to anyone other than your teammates. Not to the Nike reps that were, reportedly, waiting to see you (they'll understand), to the Magic players in their locker room (not cool, again) or to the media that was waiting for you.

On that last one, I know: who cares? Well, a lot of people. You may think what we do doesn't matter, but we're still the conduit through which many fans that don't have Twitter or Facebook pages or anything else get their information about their teams and favorite players. You may not think so, but LeBron, you stiffed them, too -- many of whom are your loyal fans. You know that thousands of kids emulate you, want to be like you. Is this the lesson you want them to learn?

You did congratulate the Magic on Sunday for their victory, which was good. But you still said you were right not to shake hands. Not so good.


That's why you should call [Byner], LeBron. He knows.

And after you do, you'll know what to say, and what to do. It wouldn't hurt if you showed up at the Finals and shook Dwight Howard's hand, but however you want to handle it, you should handle it. It doesn't make you less of a winner to congratulate the dude that beat you. It makes you even more of a champion.

Another day, another Florida team...

...crushing the hopes of an Ohio team. This is getting repetitive.

Florida State 37, Ohio State 6. And this isn't football.