Posts Tagged ‘cleveland’

Taking his talents to South Beach

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Last night, I heard what everyone else did. But before writing, I decided to sleep on things. Although writing my final submission in a state of semi-coherent alcoholic rage would surely have proven entertaining, I feared I would write something I would regret. Or at minimum, something trite.

The anger. The betrayal. The ego-driven, weeklong circus. Even Gilbert’s bitter letter. These are all angles, albeit valid ones, that have been covered ad nauseam. In effort to go out on an insightful note, I asked myself, “What hasn’t been said?” Then, somewhere between shaving my Beard for Bron and discarding the bobbleheads in my cubicle, it hit me. LeBron James is not a Clevelander.

He never was. And no. I’m not drawing a geographical line between Cleveland and Akron. I consider everyone in northeastern Ohio to be a Clevelander. Well, not everyone. You see, there’s a certain breed of people. A psyche. A character trait (or flaw, I would argue) that causes one to never fully-embrace his/her surroundings. To never live in the now. To always look to the future, move about, and dream distorted dreams of what’s next. These people never truly have a home.

They’re called vessels. And they’re as real as you and me, only they’re empty inside. Walking around, living life, just going with the flow. Their decisions are based not upon morals, ethics, or even rational thought. Rather, their choices are made for them by the current. Trends. The status quo. The opinions of everyone but themselves.

You’ve met them. They’re the Hollywood elite preaching about global issues after reading one article. They’re the 30-something guys at your office who spit out timely slang terms like “sick”, “cougar”, and “Don’t taze me, bro.” They’re the kids you went to high school with, who wore ball caps and jerseys supporting not local sports teams, but the faraway teams with more money and success. Sound familiar?

LeBron James is a vessel. A shell of a man who can’t offer the world much besides flashy slam-dunks. His heart, maturity, and well-spoken manner had us mesmerized. Sadly, each was an illusion manufactured by a very talented PR team.

If you believe the hype that at the end of the day, this was ultimately LeBron’s decision, then you’re as foolish as I was last night around 9:29, when I believed against my better judgment that a guy like LeBron would ultimately do the right thing. In reality, “The Decision” was made by Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Pat Riley, and all the St. Vincent St. Mary parasites that surround LeBron. It was made in the name of partying at that one club from Scarface, rather than doing right by one’s hometown.

LeBron James doesn’t get it, and never will. How could he? A man can’t understand the pain and suffering Cleveland fans have endured when he’s never attached himself to Cleveland sports. Nor can he reap the benefits of such disappointment (modesty, thick skin, character) when hasn’t emotionally invested himself into anything. LeBron had the opportunity to do something great and unprecedented in the city of Cleveland. Instead, he chose to do something ordinary that in the end will hurt the sport of basketball.

But you can’t blame him. No. This really wasn’t his choice. LeBron James is a vessel. And that ship has sailed.

Fond memories of the circus

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

It’s been going on for three years now. Long before New York’s aggressive, and in many ways, pathetic, campaign to reel in the King began, people were already talking. Particularly, people outside of Cleveland.

I know this because I have lived outside of Cleveland for five years now. I hear the misguided and uninformed chatter that surrounds my city both in and outside of the world of sports. “Cleveland sucks.” Really? Have you ever been there? “No, but…” Sorry, but you’ve lost all credibility in two words. The silver lining is that now I can reminisce about old episodes of Matlock while you finish your worthless sentence.

Or better yet, some people answer the question, “Yes. I went there for work. It was a Tuesday night and everything was closed.” Yes. A major drawback to our city, that’s completely unique to Cleveland, is its extreme lack of Tuesday night merriment. Unforgiveable.

And PS: Untrue. Where were you trying to go? Walgreen’s? All of the downtown bars are open on Tuesday. You just didn’t know where to go, and you didn’t bother to ask anyone. Admit it. You scrolled through your hotel’s pay-per-view menu, saw Teen Sandwich 11, clicked “order” then blamed Cleveland when several of them looked to be well into their twenties.

But if you think Cleveland Tourism suffers prejudice, get to the back of the RTA bus. Because Cleveland Sports have been lambasted for decades at a level normally reserved for terrorists with who moonlight as pedophiles. And what have we done to deserve such indignation? Lose? Consistently? I’m sorry, but Hollywood classics like Rocky and Bad News Bears had me thinking that people rooted for the underdog. That losers were, in fact, loveable. I should’ve never trusted Hollywood.

Which steers this wandering rant careening towards one unmistakable point. If you’ve bought into the movie magic, the hype the likes of OMG.com, the twists and turns of a drama performed at the level of a high school production of Oliver Twist attended by grade-schoolers who were eager to give applause to anything that gives them a break from the airtight chamber of kid farts that is their daily classroom, then shame on you.

Sure. It was easy to be led astray early, when the path veered for the first time. I was guilty myself. “Oh, wow. Chicago with Rose and Noah has the best chance. The experts must know better than me.” –Internal monologue, circa June.

But as the leader in this invisible horserace continues to change by the minute, it’s clear the fix is in and this is not a race at all. It’s Russian Roulette (And no, that doesn’t give the edge to Prokhorov). Only the stakes are higher in this game, with five of six chambers filled. The Clippers and Nets have already unsuccessfully pulled the trigger, and now the sweaty pistol barrel rests on the temple of Chicago.

Regardless of what happens from here on out, it’s clear that our fate was decided when the cylinder was spun and locked into place on July 1st. Since then, any smoke and mirrors shrouded in cloaks of hope or despair have been distractions created by and for our captors.

Do I blame them for their heartless puppeteering? No. Am I resentful of the fact that I’ve ridden this emotional rollercoaster for months? A little. Will I celebrate tonight at 9:10 Eastern when LeBron announces to the world he prefers Cleveland over the likes of “world-class” cities like New York, Chicago, and Miami? Damn straight.

Fly on the wall. Day 2…

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Miami Pitch:

LeBron: Uhmmm… Hi.

Riley: What? Oh. You’re wondering about my hair, aren’t you. I had it permed, you dig? It was done by the same salon that styles Kourtney Kardashian’s bush. I figure this season you, me, Wade and Bosh, can all be fro bros.

LeBron: I’m not sure whether to laugh or be offended, so I’m gonna do both.

LeBron chuckles while shaking his head in anger.

Riley: Well, I had to stop using the grease one way or another. Between you and me, the oil that’s starting to hit the Florida coast isn’t from the BP debacle. It’s cuz I went swimming in Ft Lauderdale.

LeBron: I don’t know how I should respond to that.

Riley: You don’t have to say anything. You know why, because the surprise I have for you puts a hairstyle change to shame. Let me introduce to you Mr. Miami himself, Will Smith!

Will: Yo, Yo Yo. Welcome to Miami, Bienvenido a Miami!

LeBron: We’re in Cleveland.

Will: Well, it’s nice to meet you anyhow, playa.

LeBron: We’ve met. My girlfriend made me take her to one of your awful shows on her birthday.

Will: Say what? You must’ve left before I sang “Summertime.”

LeBron: Nope.

Will: Just the Two of Us?

LeBron: Sadly, I caught that one too.

Will: That shitty song from the Wild Wild West soundtrack?

LeBron: Why’d you do it, Will? Why’d you leave DJ Jazzy Jeff?

Will: What are you kidding, my career has exploded since I left Jeff!

LeBron: Torturous movies co-starring Kevin James? Is that really the legacy you want to leave behind.

Will: Yeah. I… I mean. No. (eyes welling) I don’t know where it all went wrong. I should’ve followed my heart and never given into the media hype. (bawling) Don’t ever forget where you came from, man. I gotta call, Jeff.”

Will leaves room.

Riley: He’s right. Don’t ever forget where you’re from. Where are you from again?

LeBron: Here.

Riley: Oh. Well. Uh, it’s cool to like forget for a few years. Just not forever, you know.

LeBron: Goodbye.

Riley: Wait. What if Will agrees to let you be in Bad Boys 3?

LeBron: Goodbye.

Riley: Or you could pair up with Will’s son and ruin another 80’s classic. Maybe Breakfast Club. What do you think?

LeBron puts his headphones on.

Riley: LeBron. Okay, that’s cool. Start working on that bro fro though. Hey, that’s three rhymes, did you hear me?

LeBron is bobbing his head to hip hop beats.

Riley: Alright. I’ll tweet ya.

Clippers Pitch:

Neil Olshey: Where is he?

Andy Roeser: I don’t know. I hear he’s shown up late to a couple of these things. So just be patient.

Neil Olshey: Makes sense. But where’s Sterling?

Andy Roeser: He wasn’t comfortable spending the money on a third plane ticket.

Neil Olshey: But he’s the owner!

Waitress: So did you guys want to order anything, or will it just be the coffees?

Neil Olshey: We’re on a tight budget.

Andy Roeser: Sorry.

Neil Olshey: So did he tell every team to meet him at the Denny’s
in Parma?

Andy Roeser: I don’t know. Sterling canceled my data plan.

An awkward silence ensues.

Neil Olshey: Where is he?

If you were a fly on the wall today…

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

New Jersey’s Pitch:

Prokhorov: First, let me apologize if I do anything, how you say, inappropriate. You see, in mother Russia, such business dealings are often solved by choking the man across the table from you. I’m told, I shouldn’t do that here, yes?

LeBron: I’d prefer you didn’t.

Prokhorov: Very, well. I can’t tell you enough of about how I am improving the, what you call, facility, in New Jersey. Mostly, because my English, what you call, vocabulary is limited. What I can tell you is that it’s a lot like the training sequence in what you call, Rocky 4. Except this time, the Russian wins and, uh… the black guy doesn’t die. Sound good?

LeBron: Yeah. I guess.

Prokhorov: Great. Then all we have to work out is your salary. I was thinking I would pay you the way I pay my men in Mother Russia… with a lifetime supply of Stolichnaya Vodka, and a copy of the Russian techno sensation, Solnyshko’s latest EP. Deal?

LeBron: I was thinking more about a max contract of 16.1 million.

Jay-Z: What if I threw in a night with Beyonce’?

LeBron: Doesn’t she have a major ass-sweat condition?

Jay-Z: Define major.

LeBron: We’ll let you know.

New York Pitch:

D’Antoni: Okay, LeBron. Uhmmmm. I really should’ve prepared more, for this moment. Dang. I gotta be honest, we’ve been campaigning for the last 3 years, and I’m exhausted. Here, look at this picture my kid made of you in a Knicks jersey.

LeBron: Okay. I think I’ve seen this one already.

D’Antoni: Yeah, it’s been really popular. He used Photoshop. You can hardly even tell it’s fake. Can you? You ever use Photosh…

Bloomberg: C’mon LeBron!

D’Antoni: Hey. You said you were gonna let me do the talking, mayor! Knew I should’ve brought Trump. Speaking of which, LeBron, Donald said he might be able to pull some strings and get you onto next season’s Celebrity Apprentice. Does that interest you? Solving little marketing challenges with Brett Michaels and stuff… (begins singing) “Win Big, Momma’s Fallen…”

LeBron: (interrupts) No thanks.

Bloomberg: C’mon, LeBron! Write the next chapter in Brett Michael’s history!

D’Antoni: Shut up, Mayor.

LeBron: You guys are more annoying than Kings of Leon fans…

D’Antoni: Would it help if I offered you a mustache ride?

LeBron: I think we’re done here.

Bloomberg: (as door slams shut) C’mon LeBr…

Silver linings

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

This could turn out to be the worst summer in history. Worse than the Summer of Sam. Worse than that shitty “Summer Lovin” song from Grease. And worse even than Nicole Eggert’s acting when she played “Summer” on Baywatch. (Shout-out to the Hoff.)

Now, I’m still 52% sure LeBron’s staying. But that percentage is diminishing by the day. With every “absolutely” LBJ utters, and every reference to World Wide Wes’ lame-ass nickname, World Wide Wes. So in being responsible adults, I urge you to prep for the pain you may endure upon abandonment.

And what’s the best way to do that? Focus on the good times this summer provided us. I mean at least we had the World Cup, right. And wasn’t that a world of fun gang? Two ties, a thrilling 1-0 victory, and a tragic 2-1 defeat. And no hands used ever. Damn, that’s a gripping sport. Gary Coleman scores more than that sport. Present day.

Here’s my impression of soccer… “Oh. Ohh. Ohhhh. Ohhhhhhhh! Oh… He missed.” (Hockey is pretty much the same impression, only you can see my breath while I do it.)

I’d rather watch a child color. Is it possible to bomb a sport? That shit is almost as annoying as its fans.

But at least we had baseball. Right Cleveland? The only sport slower than soccer. That’s right, America, I’m willing to risk the wild mainstream success this site has achieved, in order to call baseball the insomnia cure that it is. Even when I’m watching Major League, I have to fast forward through all the baseball parts.

I know, I know. It’s a thinking man’s game. But you know what else is? Checkers. Doesn’t mean you have to clog the airwaves with it when I could be watching Family Matters reruns.

I know, I know. It’s a big part of American history. Right? But you know what else was? Polio. End it already.

Still, even if we didn’t have a lot of great sports action to enjoy this summer, at least we really excelled the sports available to us. Right, Team USA? Right, Tribe? Oh wait…

LeBron you can’t go, man!!! You just can’t!!!!!… We need good basketball in Cleveland.

10 reasons you can’t leave

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

In descending order for dramatic reasons…

10. History. The greatest players in the history of the league stayed with the same team. Bird, Jordan, Johnson, Kobe… For what it’s worth though, Shawn Bradley did play for 3 teams, plus Germany.

9. Your mother. I don’t believe the Delonte rumors, but either way. She’s your mother, and she doesn’t want you to go. What kind of man hurts his mother?

8. Dan Gilbert. He’s proven he’s willing to spend any amount of money necessary to bring home a winner. He’s also brought in a number of new players that have made the team better each year, even if it you haven’t reached the promised land just yet. His moves in just the last few weeks have demonstrated the same.

7. Money. No team can afford to pay you what Cleveland can. I know it’s not the biggest factor, but we all know it’s always a factor. PS… If it truly isn’t what matters most, a modest pay-cut would allow Gilbert to surround you with the supporting talent you need. PPS: If it helps ease the pain, I can cancel my HBO and send you the extra 10 dollars a month instead.

6. Z. He fell in love with this city and has spent his whole illustrious career here, and he’s not even from U.S.! Even after being traded and being sought after by many another team, his heart remained in C-town.

5. Game 5. Holy shit! You’re really going to play your last home game on that note? Even if the ridiculous Delonte rumor is true, so what? I’ve woken up with horrific head/stomach aches next to women who outweigh me and might have once been men. Guess what, I still went to work and did my job that day. And probably made a little less money for the effort.

4. The rest of the nation. I’m not talking about the cities in the running. I’m talking about those without a horse in the race. Everyone I asked over the course of the last few months during my travels said they were rooting from Cleveland. They called them the feel-good story of the playoffs. They also called the Lakers things that I’m not comfortable repeating on a public site.

3. Popular Opinion. I live in Dallas, and everyone here is chattering about how you’re leaving and coming here (They also voted for Bush twice, so no one said they’re smart). I watch ESPN and they think you’re leaving too. Seems the only way to make your decision interesting and historic is to do the opposite. I keep telling people not to underestimate hometown loyalty. After all, it drove me to spend lots of money and time I didn’t have on making a website.

2. The guy that was sitting next to me at the bar a second ago. No one special. A Dallas fan. But he spoke one kernel of wisdom I couldn’t ignore about the Cowboys of the 80’s (in fact, he compared them to the Browns of today.) “More character is built from standing by a losing squad than watching one win the title.” I completely and begrudgingly agree, but I think the same rule applies to players too. Be patient. And when it comes, the victory will taste that much sweeter.

1. Cleveland. It’s a great town, and most people don’t realize it. You could help change that. And breaking a 46-year sports curse in the process wouldn’t hurt. Think about it: You’re from here, and we have a rich history of never winning the big one. If you could pull it off, they’d make a blockbuster movie about it (shot in Milwaukee). If you win in Miami, Chicago, or New York… maybe Oxygen network. And your girlfriend would be played by one of the girls from Sister Sister. The moral of the story; one Cleveland ring is worth 3 anywhere else.

The question no one’s asked but should…

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Should LeBron decide to leave, or even if he’s still teetering, reporters should ask…

What do you say to Cleveland and Akron-area fans who think you’re quitting on them? Are you prepared to say, “I’m not good enough to break the curse. I can’t bring a winner to my own hometown.”?