I Believe in the Cavs

Written by :
Published on : June 19, 2016

 

 

 

A beautiful, hope-filled mural has greeted Cleveland fans at each home game this NBA Finals. It will greet fans one more time as they fill up seats in Quicken Loans Arena and just outside at Gateway Plaza during the Game 7 watch party. But before I go any further, let me repeat two of the greatest words in the world to LeBron James and to Cleveland fans near and far: GAME SEVEN.

 

brinda - believe

 

It’s what we hoped for last year, and what we finally got this year – another chance for a title and our best chance to break the championship drought thus far. The journey has once again proven to be unpredictable, frustrating at times, and awe-inspiring at others. The Cleveland fans, organization, and players have all shared in this emotional rollercoaster that we can only hope will end with that windblown look of amazement and happiness that you feel when it finally comes to a stop… even when you don’t want it to. But it will tomorrow night when the winds of fate blow through the bay once more.  

 

This season has got me thinking a lot about fate, facts, conspiracy, and superstition. Many Clevelanders have blamed the drought on a curse. Many Golden State fans will blame their losses on conspiracy (Steph Curry’s wife included). But when it comes down to it, the forces at play here aren’t hiding behind the curtain. There is no Great and Powerful Oz with unexplainable magic who can grant our wishes. But what is at play is special and resembles magic in a lot of ways. The magic is in the numbers, in the performances, in the incredible athleticism of LeBron James, and yes, his team. He has proven he can do it all. And his teammates (well most of them) have proven that they can follow his lead.

 

GTY 540879300 S SPO BKO BKN USA OH

 

That call and response could be seen in Game 6 as J.R. Smith lobbed the basketball up as if to no one – just to have LeBron come soaring in for one of the most exciting alley-oops I’ve ever witnessed. Or as Kyrie Irving hit shot after shot to match LeBron’s insane efforts in Game 5. That same call and response triggered another appropriate reaction with the fans who fed off that energy and transferred it right back to the team with deafening screams of wonder and joy.

 

When LeBron James announced his return a couple of summers ago, the city responded with another mural, a massive mural downtown that confirmed hope had returned, not only for our sports teams, but for our city on the brink of a downtown resurgence. Sure, he is not the answer to all of our problems. He is not the only piece to this puzzle as the city continues to rebuild and redefine itself. But he is a symbol of hope, of inspiration, and the possibilities that are to come for our community, our people, and our sports teams. And come time Game 7, we are all witness to what could be the end of Cleveland’s second place past and a new era of success led by one of our own.

 

lebron wall

 

I pray the team slept well last night, just as LeBron and company did this past Thursday, fresh off a win. No, I don’t think there will be any more sleepovers this season (as I had mentioned and hoped for in my previous articles). And I no longer believe in my own conspiracy that Anderson Varejao is secretly trying to help the Cavs (unless it’s to demonstrate how to pull off a successful flop). But I do believe in what I see, in what fans see, in what my father sees, who is the biggest sports fan I know – which is hope, which is talent, and what is at many times unbelievably awesome to witness. I believe in the Cavs. I believe in LeBron. And I do believe that history can be made for Cleveland tonight, in epic fashion after trailing by three, with one more win. Believe it. We’re all in.

 

all in cleveland

 

And for all the Cleveland loving fathers out there, including my own, Greg Brinda, AKA @sirfranksnbacon, AKA The Dean of Cleveland Sports Talk, here’s to the best Father’s Day present you could ask for…that long awaited championship. You deserve it.

 

 


A Letter to the Cavs from a Grateful Fan

Written by :
Published on : May 28, 2016

 

 

Dear Cleveland Cavaliers,

 

Thank you for accepting the challenge, for fighting through matchup after matchup, for weathering the injuries, for your patience in times of mental and physical turmoil, for balling like some ballers, and for winning the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Needless to say,  it’s been a long road. Yes, at this time last year we were advancing to the finals, but without Kyrie who went down in overtime, never to return in the 2014-15 NBA post season. Not to mention Kevin Love who endured a debilitating shoulder injury against Boston in round one. But the limited bench showed up and put on a performance that inspired the hungry Cleveland crowd, and even won two games in the finals. By the way, those finals wins were a first in Cavs history. Pushing, scraping, and Dellying our way to a game six, our luck and our energy finally ran out when Golden State took home the trophy.

 

It was a slow start to the 2015-16 season. Kyrie was still recovering. The wins were there, but not as fruitful as your typical cornucopia. It took a while before Stella Got Her Groove Back. But everything comes in cycles. As we lost Anderson Varejao to a torn achilles right before Christmas last year, we were gifted with a healthy yet rusty Kyrie as the holidays approached. With the New Year came new beginnings – and I’m talking big changes, as head Coach David Blatt was let go and Tyronn Lue went from highest paid associate to top diggity dog (but not the highest paid head coach of course). Could he live up to the challenge we asked? Or would LeBron be doing most of the coaching?

 

Some say Tyronn has stood his ground. And it’s undeniable that LeBron has had a significant impact on how the team has arrived to where they are today. I’m sure it was a little of this, a little of that. A lot of healthy eating, a lot of hard work, and a little partying in between – hence LeBron’s Prince Halloween costume. RIP Prince.

 

LeBronAsPrince

 

But after witnessing the heartwarming energy of the fans last year and hearing those echoes of hope continue to ring throughout The Land and across the country this year, I am sure that our faith has not faded. Our trust in our team is strong. We believe we can win because we’ve seen it, and we’ve seen it done well. We’ve also witnessed how a fan base can truly uplift or deflate their hometown heroes or sworn enemies depending on who’s turf we’re meeting on. And when we say ALL IN, it’s not because basketball is all we have, it’s because we’re giving one hundred percent just like our guys.

 

It’s an energy, connection, and love that breaks borders, boundaries, and bloodlines. But what we have in common is where we’re from and who we are playing for. We have pride in our team and our team embodies the spirit of our city. A city that we love and a city that deserves a championship. After all, we are all fans. Even LeBron is a fan. And he knows the power of the fandom, united. He even acknowledged the power of the Toronto fan base – which included Drake giving high fives at the end of the game. Not sure Lowry cared about Drake…But don’t feel sorry for Toronto. They played well. They still have hockey, sort of.

 

Drake raptors

 

It was great to see Mr. Cavalier, aka Austin Carr, stand with the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers to hoist that Eastern Conference Championship trophy above their heads. He’s been there since the beginning. He’s almost seen many a championship. But something tells me that this year is history in the making and I’m so happy he’s a part of it.

 

Whether it’s OKC or Golden State, I believe we are ready to take on either team. My dad, aka @SirFranksnBacon, aka the Dean of Cleveland Sports, Greg Brinda, recently quoted sworn Starfleet enemy, Khan, on his post game show, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” But if we play OKC we’ll have home court advantage, which means our fans will have a say in these first two games. Don’t worry. We won’t underestimate either opponent. We’ll have to make adjustments accordingly, but there’s a sense of calm and confidence that eases my fears. I’m not used to that feeling, and I’m not even sure of what to think about that right now, but I’ll take it.

 

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 20:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the final minutes of their 97 to 89 win over the Atlanta Hawks during Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Just like the original Goonie, Mikey, preaches to his team from the depths of the Oregon coast, Don’t you realize? The next time you see sky, it’ll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it’ll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here. That’s all over the second we ride up Troy’s bucket.”

 

And we’re not riding up Troy’s bucket until we have a championship.

 

 


Anderson Varejao – The Spy With Shaggy Hair

Written by :
Published on : March 11, 2016

 

 

 

I know what you’re thinking. Anderson Varejao is pissed. He got traded by the Cavs and now he wants revenge. So what does he do? He signs with the enemy – The Golden State Warriors. The team that unfortunately took home the NBA Finals trophy after a tough fought, six game battle. How could the team that he spent 12 years with just up and let him go like that? Especially when LeBron actually likes the guy. But how could you not like Anderson Varejao? That lovable smile, the gorgeous hair, and did I mention his amazing rebounding abilities?

 

He was Tristan Thompson’s mentor dognabit! And although some people might find this hard to believe, I think Cleveland grew on him. I know it’s no Brazil or Barcelona, but Clevelanders embraced him…so much in fact that on February 21st, 2006 they tried to break the world record for most people wearing a wig in a single venue. They were wearing the Anderson Varejao wig…20,562 of them! If that’s not love then I don’t want to know what love is. P.S. I sleep with my wig on every night. Just kidding. No, I’m not.

 

varejao Wig

 

I do honestly believe that he enjoyed living near the beautiful Great Lake of Erie, in a city with a booming medical-based economy. For a guy that has dislocated his right shoulder, torn a tendon is his right ankle, broke his wrist, suffered a blood clot in his lung, nursed some back problems, and most recently tore his achilles, it’s smart to play in a city with excellent medical care, fantastic Slavic food, hard-working individuals, lots of bowling alleys…you get my point. And yes, assume that I too love Cleveland.

 

Which leads me to my next point. Why did the Cavs get rid of him? I’ve talked to my father, long-time Cleveland sports radio personality, Greg Brinda, who admits that Varejao is a bit fragile. After all, he did miss most of the 2014-15 NBA season with his last injury. So given his track record and the fact that the Cavs kind of dominate in big ball basketball with a variety of effective power forwards and centers (even with Mr. Cement Hands, MOSGOV!!), the Cavs could actually use someone like Channing Frye, an experienced…wait! Another power forward/center?!! I guess he’s a superior perimeter shooter, but if it were me I probably would have traded for Kevin Durant. That could have happened, right?

 

Frye Varejao

 

Okay, so let’s get to the real reason why the Cavs traded Varejao to Portland who then released him, leaving him to sign with either the San Antonio Spurs, The Oklahoma City Thunder, The Atlanta Hawks, or yes The Golden State Warriors. So basically, Andy (I’m calling him Andy now), got his pick of the best kitty litter in town. Wow! Lucky him! Or was it luck at all? Maybe this was part of the Cavs’ ploy all along. And maybe, just maybe, Andy was in on it the whole time. Let me ask you. If you were nearing the end of your career, were prone to injuries, and wanted to be an effective component in helping your team win, why wouldn’t you sign with the enemy to gain valuable information that could be used to help the Cavs win? And then there’s the fact that Golden State really wanted him. So maybe Steph Curry’s looking for our secrets. Even better!

 

Steph Curry wants in on our secret plan. He wants to know what LeBron does before each game. How does he get that toned, muscular physique? How is he so versatile on the court? Sure, Steph is great at shooting threes, he’s versatile, good in clutch situations, but he’s small.  And when you mix in that CHILDISH mouth guard chewing habit, he looks like a junior-higher out there with his other small ball sidekicks.

 

steph mouthpiece

 

The Warriors won’t admit that they are scared. They have a great record. Right now, they are playing better than the Cavs or really any NBA team. And Curry is on track to get the MVP. Let me say that again…for right now. And with the recent firing of Coach David Blatt, I’m sure they think the pot is a stirrin’ in Cleveland. But deep down, they don’t want any surprises. They want to know what’s coming. And they want to grow…literally. So Andy will tell them: Salmon is out! Fuck salmon and all lean proteins! It’s all about the Barkley diet: Taco Bell for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! LeBron only works out once a week with a light jog and pilates. And Kyrie and Kevin Love? They are both on a similar meal plan and exercise regiments, but Kyrie substitutes pilates for Zumba and Love likes this new thing called Pop Pilates (it’s pilates to top music hits). Varejao will get them to believe this silliness, and hopefully the Warriors will begin to fizzle out.

 

But the truth is, it’s probably the other way around. The Cavs need to know the Warriors’ secrets. Now I love the CAVS! They are my team! But let’s be honest, they are not on track to beat the Warriors. And as my dad (aka @SirFranksnBacon) put it, “The Warriors are a fine-tuned machine. They are firing on all cylinders…not a lot of warts.” They play great defense, they obviously play superb offense, make clutch shots, and most importantly they have freakishly excellent team chemistry. CHEMISTRY. The only way the Cavs will stand a chance of beating the Warriors in the Finals is if the Big Three (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love) are consistently playing GREAT together. And since Coach Tyronn Lue took over with his fast-paced game approach, the Cavs defense has been lacking. That cannot happen when they get to the playoffs, let alone the Finals. Every member of the Cavs team needs to be on the same page, firing on all cylinders, with high-quality oil in the engine, if you know what I mean (#Gatorade).

 

cleveland big 3

 

So what’s the secret to the Warriors’ chemistry? That is what Andy is there to find out. I like to imagine that he just got home from a sleepover with his Warriors teammates. He’s thinking about the fun night that he just had…

 

Dream Sequence:

After hours of choreographing a dance to Informer and various hits from Jock Jams Volume 1, they make nachos with shredded beef, Velveeta, some diced tomatoes, chives, and sour cream. Then they watch Practical Magic and play Dream Phone. I can see Andy now, sitting across from Andre Iguodala. They are giggling as Andy answers the Dream Phone and gets his clue. “He loves pizza but he hates corn dogs!” They laugh, put on their pajamas, and turn on a scary movie. Probably The Exorcist. They all hold tight to their sleeping bags. Steph Curry bows out early. Says he has to put his daughter to bed, but really he’s just scared and maybe peed his boxers a little. As he’s tucking in little Riley, the bed begins to shake. He screams for his life! As his daughter tries to comfort him, Draymond Green peeks out from under the bed, smiling. “Got you this time, Stephy!”

 

“That wasn’t funny!” Steph yells, fighting back tears of horror. But Andy knows what to do in this situation. It’s time to play with each other’s hair. He’ll show them how he gets his curls to look this good. They brush, they braid, they laugh, and slowly fall asleep to the slower rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s, Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Together they dream of winning another championship, everyone except Andy who will wake in the middle of the night, lie beside Steph Curry and whisper into his ear, “Cavs Win,” softly, gently, until Steph’s pleasant dream turns into a horrifying nightmare.

End Dream Sequence

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, and Anderson Varejao, from Brazil, hug as the leave the floor late in the fourth quarter of a first-round NBA playoff basketball game against the Washington Wizards Sunday, April 22, 2007, in Cleveland. Cleveland won the first game of the best-of-seven series, 97-82. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

 

Andy will return home a few times this spring to coordinate the necessary bonding time that the Cavs need. Mo will be back, hitting threes like a boss. J.R. Smith won’t let the pressure get to him. Mosgov’s hands will become agile and coordinated. LeBron will show up to practice in his impressive Prince Halloween Costume to lighten the mood. The Big Three will be musketeering it up! Boobie Gibson will even perform his latest hip-hop hit, All In C-L-E, as the Cavs gear up for Game 7 of the Finals. They’ll laugh together. They’ll cry together. And by God, they’ll win together.

 

 


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