Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Blog turns

Hello again all, I'm back in wonderful Cleveland and I've got a proposition for you.

A number of you, my wacky band of readers, have asked why they can't post comments on this site. Well, it is part of a family newspaper and obviously we (meaning the folks of the Akron Beacon Journal) have to control the content.

But obviously my editors don't read this, otherwise they'd never let me get away with it. Nevertheless, I have to keep it semi-professional, even if I'm not.

With that said, here's the deal: If you have something you want to get off your chest about the Cavaliers, let's hear it. Or even if you want to blast me, fire away. It's interactive, baby!

Now, keep it short because I'd like to post a bunch of these. I mean short, like a parapraph or two. And and keep it clean. The more witty the better and, of course, I have the right to edit everything. Include your name, first, last, whatever, and your hometown.

Send them to me at bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com. If you all can be as funny and cool as me (ha, ha), we'll make this a regular feature.

So back to the Cavs.

Today was pretty gloomy at Gund Arena. As you can read about, Andy Varejao is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained ankle and it's bad. He couldn't put weight on it last night after the weird loss to the Wizards. Jeff McInnis and Dajuan Wagner aren't right either.

I daresay things may get worse before they get better. McInnis was struggling before he got hurt. Zydrunas Ilgauskas has given a couple of good performances lately, but is defense has been spotty at best and he's constantly been in foul trouble. As you can read in my Sunday column, which, I must say, is pretty packed with new info, Drew Gooden is in one of his classic funks.

Of course LeBron James is playing out of his mind, which has some believing the dream that he could one day average a triple double. He can certainly carry this team, and it looks like he's going to have to for awhile with the bench shorter and the key supporting pieces looking for consistency.

Still, the Cavs are in first place and it good position for the stretch run with three winnable games this week. So all it not lost, yet.

Take care,
Brian

Friday, January 21, 2005

Sleepless in Seattle, Brian gets Cavs a technical foul and other tall tales

Sacramento -- There is a new phrase in my vocabulary, which has been perpetuated by several close friends. It was running through by head as I was going down 10 flights of stairs at 1:45 a.m. last Monday morning.

Blog fodder.

As I was evacuating my hotel due to a fire alarm and going out into the pouring rain in Seattle in my jammies, I was thinking that would sound pretty funny if I was reading about how it happened to someone else. Thankfully, a lawyer named Frank from "Southern California" offered shelter in his nearby rental car. Why he said "Southern California" is beyond me, like he couldn't have said San Diego, Anaheim, L.A., or Redondo Beach and I wouldn't have known where he was from. Thank you Frank, I'm from Northern Ohio...no, Northeastern Ohio!

Now, back to the Cavs, which is what you are here for. Let's catch ya'll up since I last blogged.

Seattle

Cavs lose to the Sonics, which isn't such a bad thing these days. But had they taken advantage of one beat writer's courage maybe they could've gotten over the hump.

In the second quarter, Sonics center Jerome James got peeved when getting called for his third foul. I'll admit, it was tick-tack. But his reaction was not. He grabbed the ball and chucked it toward a table on the baseline. But he's tall and the table was low, so instead of hitting it, it hit me, right in the melon.

Confused (as usual), and now dazed, I recoiled in pain that would've made an eight year old hypochondriac laugh. However, official Kevin Fehr, who I once took a flight with, remembered what an awesome dude I am, and nailed Jerome with a technical foul.

Did I get an "Atta boy" from the nearby Cavs bench? No. They made fun of me. There was Scott Williams and Tractor Traylor, not swearing to have my back if I went out on the floor to settle the score, but laughing and pointing at me. To make it worse, Zydrunas Ilgauskas missed the free throw.

In a follow up, Cleveland Plain Dealer beat writer Branson Wright ran into Jerome the next night at a restaurant and he took BWright's cell phone and called to apologize. All is well.

Portland

Wearing a sparkling new pair of adidas, I dare to walk around the Nike campus outside Portland. The place is almost surreal, as I describe in this piece.

I kept thinking all these people just hanging out and playing sports on a rainy day are being paid for show or something. That and I feared a broad-chested man in a black suit with a crew cut and dark glasses would appear from a secret passage in a bush and remove me and my sneakers from the face of the earth.

Anyway, the Cavs rally the next night to beat the Blazers, 107-101 as LeBron finally gets the triple-double. Now, I know he said all he cared about was the win, but don't think it meant nothing to him. After the game, he and some Nike people had a little spirited party with his mom, Gloria, who is out here on the road trip and setting fashion trends all the way.

Sacramento

OK, Cavaliers didn't have much of a chance in this one even before the Kings came out hot in torching them. But before the game it was fun to remember the last time I was here when LeBron made his debut, a night he, I, and probably thousands of his fans will never forget. In case you forget, here's my story from that night.

Before the game, though, there was some great chatter. Ira Newble was lamenting his 29th birthday, knowing he was on the clock for the big three-O. Then, big Z was regaling all with his thoughts when first seeing 7-foot-3, 330-pound Ha Seung Jin come in the game the night before.

Now big Z knows what it is like to sit courtside with Paul Silas walking in front of you all game. Seriously, I mean I get great seats at games, but most nights I could better tell you the thread count in seat of Silas' pants than what actually happened on the floor.

Whew, that gets us updated. Have a good weekend all. I'm in day 10 of the roadie and I'm going to finish strong.

As always, hit me at bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com with comments. Just don't hit me like Jerome James.

Take care,
Brian

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The sights and sounds of SLC

Salt Lake -- Been a weird three days here in beautiful SLC, which included perhaps the strangest Cavs game of the season last night, when they beat the Jazz 84-71.

The following occurred within my bizarre little world:

--Saw two guys in their mid 20s laying on their backs on the grass in a downtown park smoking joints in broad daylight.
--During a nice little chat, old friend Carlos Boozer accuses me of inciting Cavaliers fans to hate him with my articles. Well, check this one out, Boozy. I guess he's still pissed at me about this one from July .
--Didn't get invited to dinner at Boozer's house.
--Didn't get invited to dinner with coaches at Fleming's Steakhouse.
--Didn't get invited to dinner with players at Benihana.
--Settled for dinner with the mayor at a downtown bistro...well, he was at the next table.
--Complimented Jazz coach Jerry Sloan on his John Deere hat, which he said he's had for 15 years.
--Jazz center Curtis Borchert compliments my Stanford hat and asks me if I went there. I tell him no, I went to the Stanford of the Midwest...Kent State.
--Fan at Delta Center drops a loud f-bomb at Eric Snow when he checks in during the fourth quarter. A stunned Snow turns around and says "I didn't think you guys said that here."
--Leaving lobby at hotel where Cavaliers and I are staying, a fan sees my NBA media pass and asks for my autograph. I blush and say, give me $10.
--Laughed hysterically watching Jeff McInnis twist in the wind and dance all around the locker room while watching his beloved Steelers in overtime before the game.
--Nearly came to tears when McInnis, laying flat on the floor in anticipation of winning field goal attempt, had his view blocked by an oblivious Sasha Pavlovic.
--McInnis then goes out and badly misses more field goals that Doug Brien...but still scores 24 points in win.
--Coach Paul Silas nearly loses voice after giving Cavs halftime screamdown for playing like zombies for the first 24 minutes.

Well, I'm off to Seattle. Oh, luggage update for those of you following: didn't make it so well from L.A., one wheel is about to fall off. I predict this suitcase isn't coming home with me.

Comments? Hit me at bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com.

Take care,
Brian

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

My spurs a jingle, jangle, jingle...

So in the last few days I've gotten about six e-mails and calls from both mom and dad offering solutions to my torn suitcase (see below). OK, OK, OK, it's a small tear, I was just aiming for sympathy. I'll be fine.

Currently preparing for Wagon's West by packing, blogging and mining Napster for all songs called "California." Um, there's like a 100 of them. And I'm not talking about songs like Hotel California or the one I've got now, the Chili Peppers' Californication. Just songs called California. There's even on from someone/thing named Dressy Bessy. Though I can't exactly agree with Joni Mitchell's version when she says "Gonna see the friends I dig, maybe even kiss a sunset pig."

More likely, when I return from the six-game, 12-day ride, I'll be humming Jackson Browne's Running on Empty.

So, with that, here's my short, incremental thoughts on the Cavaliers. Oh yeah, them. Well, they've won four straight and six of seven after beating those Bobcats. Not a bad run when preparing for the impending onslaught. Here we go:

--Eric Snow is amazing at breaking up 1-on-2 breaks. Like, when he's defending and two guys are rushing at him. He messed two up last night and has probably done so maybe 10 or 12 times this season.
--Robert Traylor's finger is still bothering him, he came back too soon and is playing through pain but doesn't complain.
--Has anyone noticed LeBron has 16 turnovers in the last two games?
--When Drew Gooden skips, he's ready to play. It usually happens after he's been benched, like last night. He'll literally come into the game skipping. He skipped in the fourth quarter, scored nine points and the Cavs won.
--I like referring to Zydrunas Ilgauskas as simply "the giant Lithuanian." Is that wrong?
--Jeff McInnis got his braids redone before last night's game and they looked really, really, tight, much more than usual. Then he went 4-of-15. Coincidence?
--I'm developing a Saturday morning cartoon series based on the lives of Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic. The working title is Wild Thing and the Angry Motenegran. Hey, the Harlem Globetrotters made basketball cool on Scooby Doo. Seriously, Sasha doesn't smile. Anderson doesn't frown.
--Speaking of the Wild Thing. When the Cavs traded for him, his last name was pronounced Vare-ra-jow. Then it was Vare-ra-joe. All season it's been Vare-ra-jean. Now he says we're all messing it up, it's something like Vare-ra-jaa. As Annie Savoy said to Ebby Calvin LaLoosh in Bull Durham, "Honey, you need a nickname." Wild Thing lives!
--Ira Newble only makes jump shots from the baseline.
--Scott Williams misses his wife back in Phoenix. The other day, he grabbed trainer Max Benton's butt during a timeout.
--Luke Jackson is miserable and not just because his back hurts him a great deal. He feels like he's let a lot of people down this season, especially his own high standards.
--I'm starting to wonder if the doctors know more than they're willing to tell us about what's caused all of Dajuan Wagner's illnesses.
--Lucious Harris shoots his jumper with his hand totally under the ball instead of behind it. I mean I can't make granny shots, so it's not like I know, but I'm just saying.
--DeSagana Diop has resigned himself that it's over for him in Cleveland. But he's still smiling, maybe it's because it getting almost $30,000 a game.
--Strength and conditioning coach Stan Kellers and assistant coach Kenny Natt are more ripped than just about every Cavs player. Stan could probably kick some tail, except he's like, 5-foot-6. But, he could surely handle me so I should shut up.
--Paul Silas should wear pink more, he can pull it off.

OK, I'm rambling now and I'm on Phantom Planet's California. All The O.C. fans know what I'm talking about. Speak to you all again from the Wild West. Until then, you can get me at bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com.

Take care,
Brian

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Show me the money

I know, I know, I've been lax. But I'm back, so here I go.

Conversation I had with Dan Gilbert last week:

BW: You have this pet phrase, "money follows, it doesn't lead," can you tell me exactly what you mean by that?
DG: Well, a lot of companies just look at profit and loss sheets and they're always trying to squeeze expenses out of the middle to make the bottom line better. We don't believe in that. We believe that you get talented people and give them the tools and, well, the money will follow.
BW: In that case, will you buy my newspaper?
DG: Um, like, subscribe?
BW: No, I mean, like, buy the whole thing.
DG: (laughs) I don't know, maybe.
BW: Well, I think I have a LeBron quality about me.
DG: Really?
BW: Well, no, but I can do a wicked crossover with him on NBA Live 2005 and I can spell Zydrunas Ilgauskas without looking it up.

OK, I digress. The point is that Gilbert doesn't believe in doing things on the cheap. That's what he says and that's what he does. His company, Quicken Loans, gives employees loads of perks. As a result they have a high retention rate, a high morale, and one of the fastest-growing revenue streams in the country.

Does this mean he'll spend wildly with reckless abandon? No. Spending lots of money doesn't always equal greatness, look at the freaking Knicks, their payroll is $100 million. But Gilbert's philosophy should get Cavaliers fan excited.

Now is the time to spend money. The payroll is going to explode soon. Z and Jeff McInnis are free agents. Drew Gooden and LeBron James will want massive extensions soon. Then there's free agents like Michael Redd and Ray Allen out there. And here's Gilbert saying he wants to get talented people and give them the tools.

Sounds like this could be a good marriage.

Want more? Check out my game stories on the Cavaliers wins over the Bobcats, Hawks and Knicks last week. Charlotte gamer has funny stuff about LBJ's mask.

If you're joining the Anderson Varejao cult, you'll enjoy my Sunday Column from last week. Oh, and I know he looks like Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons. But please, I've worked very hard to cultivate the "Wild Thing" moniker that I gave him in the preseason. I've even bribed Gund Arena sound man and Kenny Roda Show producer Andre Knott to play the song when he does something wacky in the games. So don't disappoint me, call him Wild Thing.

To explain why Luke Jackson's had a lost season along with other news and notes, check out this week's Sunday Column.

I promise to update more often. Cavs are heading West, six cities in 12 days. I imagine I might have something to say about it. Plus you can check in to see if I'm having any more travel nightmares. I have flights planned on five different airlines to get it done and will be toting around two suitcases, one of them with a concerning tear, so I'm sure there will be some hijinks.

As always, e-mail at bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com.

Take care all,
Brian