Posts Tagged ‘lebron’

What is the value of spite? A short musing on LeBron James, Cleveland, and this Girl I Used To Love Irrationally, by Ryan Braun:

Monday, February 13th, 2012

In “honor” of LeBron’s coming to town this week:

Now here we have an interesting dilemma, and I’d urge you to think it through before arriving at any, let’s say, decisions…

You know what? Let’s not even start with LeBron. Let’s start with a conveniently analogous anecdote.

****

When I was 22 (a year older than CTB’s own C.S. McGowan), the first girl I’d ever dated broke up with me. I’d made mistakes along the way — mixtapes are cute, but you better be a real lumberjack if you want to bookend one with Aladdin — still, the dumping seemed irrational. I was caring, attentive and I put out reasonably well for a nebbish, sexually-terrified faux-adult whose romantic repertoire prior to that relationship consisted of saying “I’m going to kiss you in 10 seconds,” and then counting down the remaining :09.

In spite of all that, she left me for a disinterested 28-year-old physical therapist.

It was brutal.

It was why, for months afterward, I refused to rehab anything professionally.

And it’s kind of related to the debate at hand.

*****

Two weeks ago, I stumbled on Sam Amico’s now semi-dated article re: the prospects of LeBron returning to Cleveland, and it was that which got me thinking about this again (both the LeBron situation and my beautiful ex — the latter pictured below in a visual approximation).

I’m sure you’ve all read the story.

There is talk, Amico writes, that LeBron is discontent in Miami — “less-than-thrilled with certain aspects of the Heat organization.” It’s not Wade and Bosh, SA continues, it’s “the heavy-handed and disciplined style of Pat Riley.”

None of this is particularly substantive or surprising. That Brian Windhorst corroborated kept me from writing off the return possibility without first giving it some thought…but I did give it some thought and came to the conclusion that we’ll see Obama as governor of Mississippi before we see LeBron, as Windhorst speculates, back in Cleveland and honored with a statue.

To even get us to the precipice of a return would require not only Dan Gilbert’s acceptance of a LeBron reconciliation, but an apology from LeBron himself, plus a general admission of wrongdoing. In other words, LeBron would have to publicly take some responsibility for the split with Cleveland and at least in some capacity, publicly admit he may have done a thing or two to draw Gilbert’s ire.

None of the above is going to happen, and perhaps because of that, the likelihood of the above happening is not really what I’m interested in.

I’m interested in us.

I’m interested in what we might do if the situation presented itself.

*****

When that girl broke up with me, I sulked pretty bad.

I didn’t leave the house for a week. My mom gave me a bell I could ring for ice cream and I just stayed in bed for the whole seven days. It wasn’t a good look for a 22-year-old, and about the only thing I gained from the wallowing was an abject certainty that Night Court was underrated.

I also made possible the taking of this picture:

Dark, dark days.

But then, as if forced to by my mother, the next Monday I got up and moved on with my life. I got a job as the production office intern for a movie filming locally and made such an impression delivering lunches that I was offered a job in Los Angeles, also delivering lunches.

My mom spent a week in bed with the ice cream bell, and then I left.

I won’t say my motivation was to become a famous actor solely to spite the girl who’d left me… but I will write it.

My motivation for moving was to become a famous actor solely to spite this girl who’d dumped me.

I’d never acted.

I’d never been to Los Angeles.

It was a healthy and financially pragmatic move.

But it did do one thing; it allowed me the time and the space to recover. It allowed me to move on with my life. It allowed me to start anew (and/or metaphorically draft Kyrie Irving depending on where you are in the analogy.).

Within three years, I was shopping at Whole Foods and driving a Prius. I was still delivering lunches, but now they were fancy.

I didn’t see that girl again for three years, and I really wasn’t planning on initiating anything ever again until she emailed me one day totally out of the blue…to see how I was doing, to see “how life was treating me,” and to see if I’d be attending the wedding of one of our college friends in a couple of months.

And so we started talking, and reminiscing, and telling each other that there were no hard feelings.

I said I’d be going to the wedding and staying in the recommended hotel.

She asked me what floor I was staying on.

*****

My biggest issue with the sports fan of the 21st century is the following: With very few exceptions, the 21st century sports fan is f’ing fickle! I haven’t been alive long enough to definitively state that things haven’t always been this way…but I’m pretty sure that things haven’t always been this way.

Sports have become a mixed bag of opportunism and sentimentality, admittedly for me as much as anyone. I mourned the departure of Big Z, but in no way did I take issue with his trade. I’ve despised the high-profile player movement of the past few years, but I’m the same guy who was pitching Dwight Howard to Cleveland last week.

And now, in analyzing the tenets of immediate gratification (something that, again, I seek as much as anyone)…I’m starting to wonder at what point will opportunism snuff out the sentimentality that gives sports its heart in the first place? And if that’s a possibility, how far gone are we already?

From the booing of home teams in even the most hallowed of locales (its happening from Cleveland to Green Bay), to the relatively crass pursuit of big-time free-agents in every major sport (again, Dwight Howard), I feel like the opportunism is taking over. This is probably a positive in the NFL-ian way that it keeps everything interesting for everyone always…but it’s not so good in the crafting of true loyalty, of true fans, and ultimately, of the lovable “throwback” players we keep pining for.

There’s a romantic (if idealistic) group of sports fans craving a better kind of athlete.

I think in order to facilitate that, we may need a better kind of fan.

Someone for whom opportunism is not the priority.

*****

That said, I totally get why it is.

We’re back at the reception now and I’ve had four glasses of wine plus I really can’t hold my liquor (At all. That “I’m drunk” picture came after a lone White Russian.) and the/that/my girl is looking more pretty than is probably appropriate at a wedding with a bride.

I asked her how her grad school was going and she told me about her residency.

She asked me how my acting was going and I told her about my appearance in a Swedish life insurance commercial.

And then we just stared at each other for a moment…after which time she asked me if I wanted to see some of the things she’d learned in medical school.

I’ve never been hit on in my life…except for potentially that.

“What floor are you on?”

My floor.

Jim Gray walks in and he sets up the camera.

I am not a role model.

*****

What would you say to LeBron James if he asked to come back (and/or asked you up to room 304)?

First remove the backdrop of improbability, and then, with as much hypothetical honesty as you can muster, ask yourself what would you do if the only thing standing between a 29-year-old LeBron returning to Cleveland, returning to a team featuring an abundance of young talent, a blooming superstar in Kyrie Irving, and potentially another in Harrison Kidd-Davis, was you…

What would you do if the only thing standing between a Cleveland team and a 3-4 year championship run was the return of LeBron James?

In that very specific case (coincidentally, an amplified version of so many other cases)… what is the value of spite, and in how much of that spite lies your credibility as a sports fan (or in my case, as a man in general)? In how much of it lies your ability/right to enjoy a championship?

When LeBron James left for Miami, he was most roundly criticized for copping out.

We’d hoped he’d be the greatest player of the past twenty years, and instead he ended up choosing to play with his only real rival in the league while complaining about “the pressure of going out, scoring 30 every night.”

“Championships are championships,” LeBron ultimately said. The ends justify the means, because presumably, no one remembers the means.

If history proves him right (and while I sincerely hope that won’t be the case, I do realize it might be), would you be willing to sacrifice championship ends for a means that ultimately may not be remembered?

I think the obvious answer is, “Yes, of course. Pride over title any day of the week.”

And I think that’s what I’d want to say… I just hope I’d say it.

I spent my fourth year in Los Angeles listening to way too much Aladdin.

AWARDS WATCH (39.4% of the way through the season):

NBA MVP – LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat (27.9 ppg, 8.2 reb, 6.9 ast). The real purpose of this article was to compare LeBron James to a girl (WIN)…unfortunately, that girl is playing about three levels higher than anyone else is this season. I don’t know if he’s recovered enough good will to actually win MVP, but he clearly should if Miami ends up anywhere near the top of the league. Along those lines, the Heat are a game back of the Bulls and Thunder right now and while he’s tailed off a bit lately, LeBron has been dominant in keeping the Heat afloat despite inconsitent assistance from Dwyane Wade.

CAVALIER MVP – Andy Varejao, PF/C (10.8 ppg, 11.5 reb, 1.7 ast). I’m in the camp that wants a better draft pick and I still thought the Varejao injury was devastating. Andy’s been playing at an All-Star level all year, and to see that momentum interrupted by such a fluky play is immensely frustrating. Silver lining: There’ll be a lot less pressure on him when we land Anthony Davis.

NBA COY– Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers. I don’t think the Sixers are a threat in the East, but boy are they are fun to watch. They’re young, they’re well-rounded and they share the ball. I fear they’ll end up a well-constructed team held back by lack of star power…  but in the meantime, much of the credit for their resurgence should go to Collins.

CAVALIER COY – Byron Scott. I’ve made jokes every week about Byron’s lack of competition for this spot, but in truth I’m really impressed with the job he’s done this year. The games we’ve not competed have been few and far between, and the development of our youth (by far the season’s most important facet) seems to be going remarkably well. Tristan Thompson may have plateaued, but Kyrie Irving and Alonzo Gee get better with each passing week.

CO-NBA ROY – Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (10.9 ppg, 4.5 reb, 8.7 ast) & Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (18.0 ppg, 3.5 reb, 5.1 ast). I still think Kyrie’s the better player, but with KI missing a few games courtesy of Dwyane Wade’s knee I think it’s fair that Rubio be acknowledged as well. Ricky’s shooting is a substantial limitation, but it’s one some other stars share. It’s striking how much of his game resembles Rondo’s. Rubio is such a good set-up man and he’s far more active defensively than I initially gave him credit for. Ultimately, I don’t know if I see the athleticism to make up for his inability to shoot comfortably from the perimeter…but if he carves out a niche as a poor man’s Jason Kidd/Rondo, I think Minnesota will deal.

CAVALIER ROY – Kyrie Irving, PG. Since I last did this, Kyrie’s started winning games down the stretch single-handedly. It’s been kind of astonishing to watch. I don’t know if he can make the type of jump LeBron did from Year One to Year Two, but he also might not have as much distance to travel. If he can condition himself to the point where he can run (really run) 36 minutes a game… we’ll all have to reassess what his ceiling might be.

…………………..

Ryan Braun writes at CFAAP.com, and posts a picture with an article once every two Sundays (which he often does barely and by PST technicality). He appreciates your reading, and also you in general.

Drawings from the Notebook of Chris Grant (the potpourri/interlude edition)

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Happy Sunday night/Monday morning Cavs fans!

I had a little bit of a busy week (translation: After September’s tense negotiations, I’ve had a little bit of trouble playing my way into shape), but I promise by next Sunday I’ll be back on schedule and come equipped with a killer entry to make up for falling behind.

In the meantime, I’ve prepared for you a potpourri of lockout-flavored peruseables.

First, a picture:

I realize it’s borderline sacrilege to stray from the Cavs toward “he who shall not be named,” but if it helps at all…I drew this a while ago. In fact, I drew it back when Green Lantern came out, and let me assure you, I think as much of LeBron as I did of that movie.

Okay, let’s get this entry back on the Cavalier track.

LeBron “Worst Green Lantern in the history of the World” James has done us one favor of late—that being it looks like he’s trying to get our rooks on the court for the second time in a week.

LBJ and his super-friends are hosting a charity game this Saturday, October 8th, and while I could have sworn it was going to be on TV (or at least streamed), I haven’t been able to find a link yet, so maybe not… But it’s looking like Kyrie and Tristan will be involved.

Here’s a link.

The afore-referenced first game for Kyrie and Tristan took place on Saturday night in North Carolina, and while footage was tough to come by, I did manage to find this Bob Leverone shot…

…which I think clearly demonstrates that Kyrie has a higher vertical than Chris Paul, and only that.

Okay, actually I found a bit more.

Here are two videos should you be interested:

  1. LeBron vs. John Wall dunkathon.
  2. Full highlights (this video essentially plays out in similar fashion to the dunkathon, but also has a few Kyrie clips included).

Kyrie scored 21 points on 9 on 17 shooting, while Tristan added 4 points and 4 rebounds. (Inconsequential side note: Jonas Valanciunas had 44 and 30. Just kidding.)

And, just for the sake of it…

Couple thoughts on a game I didn’t see and probably shouldn’t be analyzing:

  • First off, obviously no one is playing defense. That and the “out of bounds” rule seems to be selectively enforced.
  • I think I like that Kyrie had the chutzpa to put up 17 shots in such a star-studded game. That’s provided the LBJs and Chris Pauls of the world didn’t take 40, but still…I like that Kyrie sees himself as a viable option in what I’m pretty sure is certifiably an All-Star game.
  • My analysis on Tristan’s 4 and 4? Well, I’m just assuming he played some hellacious defense. (I think he was the only guy to call “out of bounds” when John Wall threw the ball against the backstop.)
  • Kyrie’s clip is brief (starts at 1:47 in video 2), but you can see just the slightest glimpse of that shiftiness (on his second highlight) I think will make him really hard to deal with in a league that doesn’t allow hand checking. An awfully optimistic view of a clip that lasts about half a second, but hey… Actually, I have nothing. It’s an awfully optimistic view of a clip that lasts a half a second.
  • John Wall is insane. There’s a 85% chance he explodes onto the scene this year with something like a 23, 12, and 5 line. It’s easy to forget just how “above and beyond” athletic this guy is…and more than that, it’s easy to forget that he was pretty solid last year while playing hobbled. In terms of the league’s premier athletes—there’s Dwight, there’s LeBron, and then there’s probably Wall. Even over Blake Griffin, I’d say, in terms of athleticism. All of that mentioned, I’m not sure he’s good enough to make Washington significantly better by himself.
  • LBJ can still get up, even with the weight of the world on his shoulders. I sometimes wonder if he’s paying attention.
  • I know we’re all waiting for Dwayne Wade’s legs to deteriorate. It’s not happened yet.
  • I’m not buying into the whole summer-league MVP thing, but regardless, Durant is probably the one guy in the NBA who’s going to have a legitimate chance to wrestle away the bulk of LeBron’s prime. But to do it, he’s got to get stronger. The good news is I think he wants to be better than LBJ, and I think he wants to be the guy that beats the Heat. The bad, on the other hand, is that he’s one year removed from essentially failing a very potent Thunder team in the playoffs—not because he wasn’t trying hard enough, but because he was unable to dictate where he caught the ball against the more physical and disciplined defenses. It happened on occasion in the regular season too, but the sample size then was too small to acknowledge the problem as a consistent reality. Durant’s looking good this summer—his ball handling looks like it’s improved—but more than anything, KD needs to further learn to use his body before he makes the catch. It’s the most important thing missing from his game, and it’s not going to be tested on the All-Star circuit. I’m pretty sure we’re all hoping he figures this out, spiteful bunch that we are.

Okay, I think that’s it, but before I hit the road—because I’m having quite a bit of fun with this post—how about a Kyrie high school mixtape? It’ll brighten up your Monday.

Kyrie Irving.

Check out CFAAP.com (the website I shamelessly promote all the time and am trying to make huge), though be aware, the top picture on there at current is very NSFW. And not even sports-related.

Go Cavs! (And keep crossing your fingers that we have the opportunity to cheer them on at all this year.)

Drawings from the Notebook of Chris Grant (episode ‘Labor Day’)

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Happy Sunday, Cavs fans!

I come to you this morning having solved an interesting and entirely self-manufactured quandary: essentially, how to post a new DFTNOCG whilst honoring the nation’s 118th Labor Day by not doing any labor?

I think I found an answer. Everything I’m putting up today was drawn a few months ago.

Two pictures this entry…

The first marks our initial venture “Around The NBA” (something I might explore a bit further in the coming weeks), and was done back in May for another (and obviously, less cool) website.

Let it go, Braun...

Can I claim that I’m over it while holding the sentiment that I wouldn’t trade Tristan Thompson for LeBron James? (Because you don’t trade big for small…)

The second picture…well, the second picture is from my dyslexi-racist, seven-year-old cousin who accidentally drew the white Antawn Jamison a few weeks back. The kid doesn’t see race…or rather, he sees race backwards…which I guess is a positive? At the very least, I think he’s developing a “thing.” Very important for an artist.

Anyway, without further ado…the second published work of Adam Braun.

"Black Luke Harangody"

Obviously, Luke’s taken the lockout to improve his vertical.

………………………..

Hope everyone is having a good weekend, and thanks for reading!

I’ll be back with something good next Sunday.

-Ryan, of the massively popular CFAAP.com.

Scaling the Anger for LeBron James’ Return to Cleveland.

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

For those of you who missed all of the hoopla last night, LeBron James Heat jerseys have already found their way into the city of Cleveland. During an Indians game at Progress Field Wednesday night, one “die hard Cleveland fan” made his way to his seat wearing the newly stitched #6 jersey. Fans reacted as if LeBron James himself had just plopped down in left field, dousing the fan with beer and food. Eventually the fan was escorted out of the ballpark, exiting to chants of expletives by hundreds of angry Clevelanders.

But the incident certainly got me thinking. If this is how Indians fans reacted to the mere site of someone rubbing “The Decision” in their face on their home turf, how can we expect a building full of Cavs fans to respond when Miami makes their first trip to Cleveland this upcoming season?

How many police officers per hundred fans can we anticipate? Will fans have to arrive an hour before tip off just to be properly screened at the doors? Needless to say, this is a game that all Cavaliers fans have their eyes set on. I’m no different, as I will most certainly be at that game, which sadly enough could be the “playoffs” for the rebuilding Cavaliers this season.

Well, with this highly anticipated event in mind, I decided to take a look at some of the things we could expect based on past homecomings. Using lists of the top ten Cleveland sports villains and the ten levels of anger management, these are some of the events I believe could transpire at the Q.

Jim Thome (Level 7)

When Jim Thome left the Cleveland Indians it was a major heartache for Tribe fans. As blogger Len Kehoe puts it, “Thome thought of Cleveland as his second home. He told the fans he didn’t care about the money, he told them that they would have to ‘rip the shirt off my back for me to leave’… [but] Thome went for the money, breaking Cleveland fans’ hearts once again.”

However, since Jim Thome left the Indians for an NL team, it would be four years and another team later before he returned to Cleveland. Upon his return, he was met with a mixture of boos and cheers. In his second game back at Jacobs Field he was even fortunate enough to hit two home runs, perhaps being driven by the abundance of boos outweighing the cheering.

The Los Angeles Times did a good job summarizing Thome’s divided reaction return to Northeast Ohio in 2006.

Indians fans are now split in their sentiments toward the 35-year-old slugger, who was traded to Chicago last winter. Many still cheer him, but there are plenty of resounding boos each time he comes to bat in Cleveland.

Due to the partially softened stance on Thome’s trip back to the place that he used to call home, it’s quite obvious that LeBron James will likely never be this fortunate when playing in Quicken Loans Arena again. We can expect the boos to erupt x10 and the cheers of the 1-2% that claim their loyalty to LeBron will surely be drowned out.

Carlos Boozer (Level 8)

I still remember the game as if it was yesterday. After experiencing a few rowdy St. Patty’s Day parades leading up to 2007, I was absolutely thrilled to learn that the Cavaliers would be hosting the Utah Jazz on March 17th that year. And, for the first time since his betrayal, Carlos Boozer was actually going to play!

Fans made sure to pack the Q with hundreds of signs for the return of Carlos Boozer in 2007.

I quickly secured a couple of club level seats and made the pilgrimage to Quicken Loans Arena with hate in my heart and vengeance on my mind. The atmosphere was fantastic with a wide variety of notables, from duct taped Boozer jerseys, with an “L” over the “B” (“Loozer”) or “BIE” over the “ZER” (“Boobie”), to thousands of drunken fans, hundreds of anti-Boozer signs, and dozens of angry chants.

Every single time Carlos Boozer touched the ball, a sea of boos showered down on him from those sitting courtside all the way up to fans in the aptly named Loudville. The young children in front of me, who probably have no recollection of Boozer other than their father’s bitter complaints since the 2004 off-season, repeatedly screamed “Boozer sucks!” off and on every five minutes throughout the entire game.

With all of that said, electric atmosphere included, the overall level of disdain was slightly less than I had assumed it would be. This was Benedict Boozer, back in Cleveland, playing on one of the most alcoholic holidays in America. Perhaps the time off between Boozer’s bolting and his first game back in uniform softened the blow from what could’ve been battery tossing to merely signs, chants, and self customized jerseys.

In the end, there is one good quote we can take away from the 2007 not-so-St. Patty’s Day massacre. When asked about what he thought the Carlos Boozer homecoming would be like, LeBron James answered “terrible… it’s going to be pretty bad for him.” He followed this up by saying he understood that Boozer did what he had to do, but “whatever [the fans] do, I’m behind them.” It’ll be interesting to see what Cleveland players are behind the fans with “whatever they do” when James is the one visiting the once again scorned fanbase.

Albert Belle (Level 9)

When Albert Belle left Cleveland for the Chicago White Sox, it was a move that greatly angered fans since he chose to play for the team’s main rival. Feeling scorned, fans bottled up all of their animosity and saved it for his return the following season.

Belle wandered back to Cleveland in 1997 and was met with more hate than he could handle. Following the initial return on June 3rd, drastic measures had to be taken for the sake of security. As one Belle dedicated website documented the series in real time, “Angry, taunting fans throw debris at Albert in left field. Team owners add extra security for the last 2 games of the series and keep fans away from the porch overlooking left field.”

While it may seem somewhat harmless, once fans begin to throw anything at a player, all bets are off. Furthermore, the fact that additional security had to be brought in and certain sections of the ballpark were off limits proved that the heightened tension was cause for concern.

For James, this is the best case scenario homecoming he can expect this season. While I’m certainly not condoning it, there will undoubtedly be several stops in play, particularly in the first quarter, due to objects being thrown on the court at his direction. If fans wearing James’ #6 Heat jersey are getting pegged with debris in the very same left field stands that fans used to throw objects at Belle, I can only imagine what objects the actual #6 jersey will attract. Unfortunately for James, avoiding debris throwing fans isn’t as easy as closing off a section of the 360 degree, oval shaped arena.

Art Modell (Level 10)

The only one in the same weight class as James on this list, Art Modell is considered a curse word throughout Northeast Ohio. Unfortunately, for comparison’s sake, Modell has yet to once again step foot on the earth he tried to salt 14 years ago.

What was worse: Art Modell's original sucker punch or LeBron's recent roundhouse?

After stealing an entire sports franchise from the city of Cleveland, Modell had to abandon his Ohio home for fear of what fans may have done. Following several death threats, Modell hired an ex-Marine, Henry Gomez, to protect him down in his Florida home in West Palm Beach. But even though he had a military trained body guard and was over 1,000 miles away, Cleveland fans still lined up outside of the home, harassing Modell any chance they could get. That’s all of the way down in Florida, so take note LeBron.

From firing legendary coach Paul Brown, who the team is named after, to completely uprooting Cleveland’s beloved Browns, Art Modell is the city’s original villain. In a way that only furthers the anger towards him, Modell has internalized a lot of this hate and made it part of his persona. When asked if James would surpass him as Cleveland’s most hated villain, he responded “nonsense… I don’t think there’s any basis for it.”

Ultimately, James may never pass Modell as Cleveland’s number one sports villain, but he has to come back to the city at least twice every year.

So what should we expect?

To be honest, I’m not sure what this night will entail. There will certainly be a lot of anger in the air and the tension within the stadium will be unbelievable. It could be a night that makes the city of Cleveland look bad in the eyes of the nation or it could be a let down for those die hard fans who hope it makes LeBron James regret ever leaving the team.

One thing is certain, however. If the angry fans at Progressive Field on Wednesday night were any indication, you may want to proceed with caution that night. As Cleveland fan and blogger Matt Bowman put it, “Anyone who brings his/her children to the first Cavs/Heat game at the Q this year better not be complaining about crowd rowdiness.”

After all, crowd rowdiness and level 10 anger is to be expected.

Make sure to join the discussion at Numbers Don’t and Real Cavs Fans!

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