The Optimist Heading Into Game 4 of the Finals




Shalom, Cavalier fans. Optimist, here. How are you feeling? Ready for another night of smashmouth basketball™ on the North Coast?!

I am.

If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s capturing the zeitgeist of my hometown of Cleveland. And I feel even more in-tuned to the city – like some sort of Tribal elder – because I was born in “the Cleveland of Cleveland”: Garbage Heights, Ohio. And here’s how I feel that you are feeling …

With Game 4 just hours away – maybe the most important game to-date in franchise history – you’re ready to go totally ape, ready to tear your workspace apart, ready to rip your steering wheel right off the dashboard! And yet …. you’re a little bit pensive …

“But then it creeps in: that little Cleveland voice, like a microscopic Browns elf scurrying around in your cabeza that says: ‘Slow down.'”

You’re thinking: ‘All of a sudden, this looks like a real possibility. What should I do? What will I do?!’

After holding off Golden State in another thriller on Tuesday night, the Cavaliers now have a 2-1 advantage over the Warriors with two of the next three – if necessary – to be played before 20,000 screaming coconuts at The Q. The NBA title could await on the other side.

But then it creeps in: that little Cleveland voice, like a microscopic Browns elf scurrying around in your cabeza that says: “Slow down.”

I bet you think I’m going to tell you to ignore those feelings. That everything’s gonna be alright and to not worry your pretty little heads. But I’m not. I think you need to use all that nervous Cleveland energy to your advantage tonight.

Destiny is calling these Cavaliers. It’s fueling TheBron’s superhuman run and helping Iman Shumpert fight through the pain and fueling the international phenomenon known as the Legend of Matthew Dellavedova1 – whose Playoff Beard™ has him looking downright feral.

But we’ve got miles to go before we sleep, Cavalier fans. We can’t win the NBA Championship tonight at The Q. We can only win tonight’s Game 4 tonight at The Q. And it’s one the Wine and Gold have to have.

And because we’re so embroiled in executive-level high-stakes NBA action, I think today’s a good day to give you guys a break on the standard educational stuff – Today-in-History , Birthdays and, of course, DOTD/SD.

It is, after all, Summer Break for some of the local rugrats. So put away your notebooks and ink-pens. Why would you want to learn about something like John F. Kennedy proposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

And why would you care about the birthdays of Vince Lombardi or Joe Montana or Henry Hill2, who, for as long as he can remember, always wanted to be a gangster? I mean: What could possibly be interesting about any of those guys? Go out and enjoy the sunshine.

And because the weather’s so nice outside, instead of harshing your buzz by bringing up any good dead people – like John Wayne, who passed in 1979 – I’d rather mention the sweet, sweet demise of a bad one: Timothy McVeigh – who took the spike back in 2001.

And as long as we’re taking care of our housecleaning: I hope you noticed that, because we’ve had a couple days at home, I had my stylist rearrange my Elvis Playoff Hair™ and take me back to the nice Full-Shump3 that I rocked earlier this postseason. I already told you readers that I don’t believe in jinxes or hexes or any of that fakakta mumbo-jumbo. I’m here to support the Cavaliers’ two-guard who’s sacrificing his body so my city can win an NBA Championship.

But we’ve still got a long way to go before we start talking title. And we’ve got to win one more before we can even start talking about what experts call ‘The Gravitational Pull of the Offseason’ – and the effect it might have on the Warriors.

“Golden State is playing like theyWANT it. The Cavaliers are playing like they NEED it.”

We’ve got a lot of work to do before that point. The squad still has to make at least one more trip out to Oakland, for crying out loud! And I haven’t packed a thing for this weekend’s junket.

Luckily, I don’t have to do all that grunt-work before we get back on the War Rig for the Left Coast. That job goes to my personal security detail – a guy named Joe Vitanza, who also works security for the Cavaliers at Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence.

Because the Cavaliers are such a high-profile squad, it’s no secret that the team travels with various security personnel. Well, I’m high-profile, too! And I wanted to have some security on the road – lest I have throngs of hot chicks chasing me down the street like I’m a Beatle.

So this season, as long as I feed and walk him, my beloved boss, Tad Carper, is allowing me to bring Joe Vitanza on road trips with us.

Joe V. is a Garbage Heights dude like me. Fellow Bulldogs can spot each other immediately – the way they say you can tell a guy’s been in prison by the way he eats his meal. I think it’s in the way we stand, kind of hunched over with forearms exposed, like a Cro-Magnon Popeye.

He basically serves the same function as the other security guards, with the main differences being that he only looks after me and also that we store him under the bus with the luggage and equipment.

As a native of “the Cleveland of Cleveland,” Joe V. understands what’s at stake tonight at Quicken Loans Arena.

We’ve already tasted what it’s like to be “close.” We’ve been on the doorstep before. But as Craig Ehlo, Jose Mesa4and Ernest T. Byner all could tell you (but probably wouldn’t feel like it): They don’t hand out garish, over-sized, jewel-encrusted rings for scoring the go-ahead basket with three seconds left or for getting two-thirds of all the outs in the ninth inning or for safely crossing the invisible plane of the one-yard line.

I’ve said it before in this series, I’ll say it again in this series: Golden State is playing like they WANT it. The Cavaliers are playing like they NEED it.

They do.

We all do.

I don’t need to hope that TheBron will play with that same urgency on Thursday night. He’s a man on a mission. They all are. And I expect that mission to continue in Game 5.

Bring that nervous, nasty Cleveland energy to The Q tonight. Get louder and more obnoxious than you’ve ever been before. (Did you drink your tea like TheBron told you to?)

If you can’t get down to the arena, feel free to scream and cuss at your TV at the top of your lungs! My dad does it all the time. He’s called the one at my folks’ house everything but a Zenith.




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