Category Archives: Sports

Love & Baseball

vic-banner-1-jpegumpireMy wife is a Cubs fan.

I’m rooting for the Indians.

There can be no greater test of our marital bonds.

Can love overcome battling baseball allegiances?

Alas, there’s no umpire than can make this call.

My darling, treasured wife, Victoria, is a Chicago girl born and raised. Vic’s a South Sider by birth – and should really be a White Sox fan by regional rights – but she headed to the North Side for college, which is where we first met.

vic-post-1-5After her years at Northwestern University in Evanston on Chicago’s northern border, Victoria moved to Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood (also on the North Side), where loyalty to the Cubs was very strong. Shortly after I moved in with her in the mid-1980s, we took an apartment in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. It was a short walk to hallowed, historic Wrigley Field — the very epicenter of Cubs fandom.

vic-post-1-3As I discussed in a previous post, the Cubs became my favorite team in the National League during my years in Chicago, and Victoria and I went to many games at Wrigley Field, snuggling under a blanket during the chill of home openers in the spring and enjoying the thrill of pennant races in late summer.

vic-post-2-2

Together we experienced the exhilarating highs and inevitable lows endemic to Cubbie love – especially the bittersweet 1989 season in which Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Rick Sutcliffe and Mitch Williams all made the All-Star game and Jerome Walton was the NL Rookie of the Year. Of course, that team broke our hearts again by losing to the hated San Francisco Giants four games to one in the National League Championship Series.

Love of the Cubs has always been something that Victoria and I have shared – from the time we began dating in 1985, to when we were married on the North Side in 1990, and throughout our long sojourn in Southern California. We suffered together through losing seasons and the horrors of The Bartman Game.

vic-post-2-4Meanwhile, my wonderful wife viewed my continued support of the Indians in the America League. She paid scant attention to American League baseball anyway. In fact, she’d never been to Comiskey Park to see the White Sox play until I took her to that venerable South Side ballpark during its final season of existence.

She happily supported my trip to Jacobs Field in Cleveland to watch the Indians win Game 4 of the 1997 World Series. In fact, losing Game 7 of that Series in a particularly heartbreaking fashion only strengthened our baseball bonds of mutual misery.

Now comes this moment. A moment I never imagined could happen in our lifetimes.

The Cubs we have loved together are finally, blessedly, in their first World Series since 1945. Yet, as cruel fate would have it, they are playing against my boyhood team, The Cleveland Indians.

And so, this time I must root for my Tribe.

img_8028I’ve explained why this must be – but especially with the Cubs down 3 games to 1 at this moment – Victoria is looking daggers at me.

I know love conquers all. But, why oh why, must the baseball gods test our marriage by pitting the Indians versus the Cubs? Why not Red Sox versus Cubs — or Tribe versus Dodgers? Those matchups would not have challenged our three-decade love match.

Tonight, we’ll watch Game 5 together. There is a possibility that The Indians will celebrate their first World Series championship since 1948 amid the history and ivy of Wrigley Field. There is also the chance the Cubs will send this Series back to Cleveland for Game 6.

And if the Tribe wins tonight – Vic might just send me back to Cleveland anyway.

img_4752

Friends & Family gather for Game 4 at Tinhorn Flats in Burbank. It’s early — and the Cubs are leading 1-0. I’m the only one rooting for the Tribe in the entire building.

img_4750

Later in the game. Indians are now leading — and I’ve been exiled from the table.

vic-post-1-2

A second generation Cubs Fan

img_4732

A third generation Cubs fan. It’s all fine in that family now — but let’s see what happens (and what cap the little man’s wearing) when the Cubs face the Red Sox in a World Series.

vic-post-1-4

A final peace offering.

5 Comments

Filed under History, Sports, Uncategorized

Balancing My Baseball Loyalties.

bb-banner-jpegThere’s no doubt that the 2016 World Series is laden with historic significance.

1948-cleveland-indians-world-series-champions-patchThis year’s Fall Classic pits two of baseball’s legendary hard luck franchises: The Cleveland Indians and The Chicago Cubs. When you consider how long it’s been since the Indians and Cubs have won a World Series, it’s 1948 against 1908 – with the Cubs suffering the longest title drought.

The 2016 World Series will put an end to one of baseball’s two most notorious curses: the Curse of Colavito and the Curse of the Billy Goat.

And, for me, it will be an exquisitely personal experience.

cubs-goat-logoI was born and raised on the West Side of Cleveland — but I went to college and lived and worked on Chicago’s North Side for 15 years. I married my wife, a Chicagoan and lifelong Cubs fan, in Chicago. One of our daughters was born there.

For years, I’ve been able to root for my American League heroes, The Indians – while also cheering for my favorite National League team, The Cubs. The likelihood that my dual baseball loyalties would be tested in World Series was remote. Like worrying about getting hit by lightning.

But now, the baseball gods have flung their bolts – and lightning has struck.

images-washingtonpost-comSo, I must make my choice.

Baseball and boyhood are inextricable. Some of my earliest memories involve the Cleveland Indians. I remember when I was 3-5 years old, looking at the front page of The Cleveland Plain Dealer to see if the Tribe had won or lost.

cw2My dad, who was a fine cartoonist himself, enjoyed showing me the small cartoon Indian that appeared on The Plain Dealer’s front page the day after each game.

If the Indians won, that tiny cartoon Indian brave looked upbeat – with a feather in his headdress. (Two feathers for two victories in a doubleheader.)

cw-3If they lost, the little Indian would have a black eye – or, in this case, a sore bottom from getting his butt kicked.

620x686xphoto-8-montage-927x1024-png-pagespeed-ic-sjzucr-yqiAnd in the case of a split doubleheader, he might sport one black eye for the loss – while triumphantly holding a scalp to indicate the win.

Little boys – and The Plain Dealer — had no clue about political correctness in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

95dd7d0bb910ca4fb7b02e83d49fc367I have vivid memories of frequent trips with my father and brother to the cavernous Municipal Stadium to cheer on those 1960’s Indians teams, starring my favorite player, Rocky Colavito. (Who should be in the Hall of Fame.) I was only two years old in 1960 when Rocky was sent to Detroit in a trade that many fans believed cursed the team – but I sure remember Rocky’s glorious return to Cleveland in 1965.

It didn’t hurt that Rocco “Rocky” Colavito was Italian. My mom is Italian – and as a member of St. Rocco’s Church and school – my world was decidedly Italian-centric.

davalilloHeck, I also took pride in the fact that Rocky’s teammate Vic Davalillo was also Italian. (He wasn’t. Vic was Venezuelan.)

In all the seasons that I followed The Indians before I went off to college in Chicago, there were more lowlights than highlights. But I saw young Craig Nettles, Dennis Eckersley, Luis Tiant, Sudden Sam McDowell, Buddy Bell, Gaylord Perry and so many others compete in a Tribe uniform.

bat-dayThe Indians has a Straight A Tickets program – and boy, did I make sure to score those straight A’s. On Bat Day, they gave you a real bat. Can you imagine handing 40,000 kids a real bat in downtown Cleveland – or any city – today?

So, the Indians are in my DNA. They’re my hometown team. My boyhood idols.

big-cubbieBut I love The Cubs, too.

Soon after arriving at Northwestern University in 1976, I started watching Cubs games on WGN – with Jack Brickhouse calling the games. We didn’t get every Indians game on TV in Cleveland, and I got hooked on watching the Cubs every day.

600f51b17cdc6a926d68e07a04b60144In 1984, I started going to Wrigley Field on a regular basis. After all those years of watching baseball in the drafty vastness of Municipal Stadium, I was charmed by the intimacy of The Friendly Confines. And I fell in love with the team, led by the bat and glove of the glorious Ryne Sandberg.

Of course, those 1984 Cubs broke my heart when they blew a two-game lead to lose the NL pennant to Steve Garvey and the San Diego Padres. Having my heart broken by the Cubs only intensified a growing bond with my fellow Cubs fans and the people of the Windy City’s North Side. I knew from birth what it was to support a lovable baseball loser. Now I supported two of them.

Since then, I enjoyed the Indians’ resurgence in the late 1990’s – and endured their losses in the 1995 and ‘97 World Series. (But at least we got there, right?)

And, as a Cubs fan, I anguished along with everybody else in Chicago when Steve Bartman got in the way of that fateful pop foul.

artbble-pos-16tbb2-1154-gold-sThese highs and lows only reinforced the needlessness of worrying about divided loyalties in an Indians vs. Cubs World Series. Such an incredible thing was never going to happen.

But now, it has happened.

And, as I said, baseball and boyhood are inextricable.

So, I’m rooting for my Cleveland Indians in this Series.

kris_bryant-topps-061015As for the Cubbies, they have so much youth, talent, pitching, managerial wisdom and front office brilliance that I expect them to be World Series favorites for the next decade.

I’ll say what we Cubs fans have said since 1908.

Wait ‘til next year.

I’ll be rooting for a Cubs victory then.

Now, let’s play ball!

8 Comments

Filed under History, Sports

A Post-Victory Look at My Earlier Take on the 2016 NBA Finals.

big3iI wrote this post before the Finals started. And when the Cavs were down 3 games to 1 after Game 4, it might have seemed like I would have to eat crow. But, somehow, I never lost faith that LeBron and my Cavs would prevail. (You can ask my daughter, Emilia.) With all due humility, I’ve highlighted the best parts in bold.

Okay. It’s the NBA Finals.

Starting tonight — Thursday, June 2nd — the battle between the Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors will get underway.

And as a Cleveland boy, born and raised, I must call my shot.

lebron-james_416x416So, I’m calling LeBron “King” James and the Cavs over Stephen “Mouthpiece-Masticating” Curry and his Golden State NBA golden boys.

Of course, Warrior fans will say I’m favoring Lebron and the Cavs simply because I’m a myopic, championship-starved Northeastern Ohio native looking to Lebron James through the distorted prism of a basketball-related messianic complex.

But, while that’s true — it’s not the whole reason.

15970992-mmmainI’m calling this NBA Finals series for the Cavs mostly because of the fact that, this year, Lebron is heading into the Finals with a healthy team: with All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving fully fit for service.

In the 2015 Finals, Stephen Curry and the Warriors barely held off James and the Cavaliers in 6 tightly contested games – without Love and Irving on the court. Now, with Kevin and Kyrie healthy and ready to compete – the balance of power has shifted toward Cleveland.

150202105528-kevin-love-lebron-james-kyrie-irving-020215.1200x6723-point shooting has been the hallmark of Golden State’s potent offense. But in the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the Cavs lit it up from beyond the arc. James, Love, Irving, J.R. Smith, Channing Frye and Co. rained threes in an historic fashion. In fact, the Cavs’ 3-point shooting percentage in the 2016 playoffs is higher than that of Golden State’s sharpshooters. But hoisting threes isn’t the key to Cleveland’s game.

gettyimages-474678790Golden State has no answer for Cleveland’s interior strength. As much as Golden State wants to run up and down the court jacking up crazy threes from half-court, the team that controls the paint (and the boards) will still have the advantage. And I’ll take Cleveland’s big men, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov, over Golden State’s Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli every game.

538861d3df6acbb8d03d65d024fe6e76_crop_northAnd let’s keep an eye on the Warrior’s volatile emotional touchstone, Draymond Green. He’s just two technical fouls away from big trouble – and one flagrant foul away from suspension. Can he last the series without getting himself suspended for a game or two? Count on the Cavs to take it to the rim against Green early and often. Draw contact. We’ll see whether trash-talking, crotch-kicking Draymond can control his dramatics – and his cheap shots.

Ch0WHZwXEAAPR3GI could go on and on about the specifics of match-ups and man-to-man breakdowns — but ultimately, I’ll confess that my take on the 2016 NBA Finals is less analytical than emotional.

Cleveland hasn’t won a major sports championship since the great Jim Brown and Frank Ryan’s Browns won an NFL Title in 1964. That’s 52 long years in the wilderness.

images-1This year — with Cleveland hosting Donald Trump’s madcap Republican National Convention this July, my downtrodden but proud, hardworking hometown needs a prophylactic, honorable, full court shot of redemption.

I believe Lebron and the Cavs will make that shot.

So, I say Cavs in 6.

Or less. (Okay, here’s where I went over the top.)

Game on.usa-today-9094536.0

2 Comments

Filed under History, Sports, Uncategorized

One Cleveland Boy’s Take on the 2016 NBA Finals.

big3iOkay. It’s the NBA Finals.

Starting tonight — Thursday, June 2nd — the battle between the Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors will get underway.

And as a Cleveland boy, born and raised, I must call my shot.

lebron-james_416x416So, I’m calling LeBron “King” James and the Cavs over Stephen “Mouthpiece-Masticating” Curry and his Golden State NBA golden boys.

Of course, Warrior fans will say I’m favoring Lebron and the Cavs simply because I’m a myopic, championship-starved Northeastern Ohio native looking to Lebron James through the distorted prism of a basketball-related messianic complex.

But, while that’s true — it’s not the whole reason.

15970992-mmmainI’m calling this NBA Finals series for the Cavs mostly because of the fact that, this year, Lebron is heading into the Finals with a healthy team: with All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving fully fit for service.

In the 2015 Finals, Stephen Curry and the Warriors barely held off James and the Cavaliers in 6 tightly contested games – without Love and Irving on the court. Now, with Kevin and Kyrie healthy and ready to compete – the balance of power has shifted toward Cleveland.

150202105528-kevin-love-lebron-james-kyrie-irving-020215.1200x6723-point shooting has been the hallmark of Golden State’s potent offense. But in the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the Cavs lit it up from beyond the arc. James, Love, Irving, J.R. Smith, Channing Frye and Co. rained threes in an historic fashion. In fact, the Cavs’ 3-point shooting percentage in the 2016 playoffs is higher than that of Golden State’s sharpshooters. But hoisting threes isn’t the key to Cleveland’s game.

gettyimages-474678790Golden State has no answer for Cleveland’s interior strength. As much as Golden State wants to run up and down the court jacking up crazy threes from half-court, the team that controls the paint (and the boards) will still have the advantage. And I’ll take Cleveland’s big men, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov, over Golden State’s Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli every game.

538861d3df6acbb8d03d65d024fe6e76_crop_northAnd let’s keep an eye on the Warrior’s volatile emotional touchstone, Draymond Green. He’s just two technical fouls away from big trouble – and one flagrant foul away from suspension. Can he last the series without getting himself suspended for a game or two? Count on the Cavs to take it to the rim against Green early and often. Draw contact. We’ll see whether trash-talking, crotch-kicking Draymond can control his dramatics – and his cheap shots.

Ch0WHZwXEAAPR3GI could go on and on about the specifics of match-ups and man-to-man breakdowns — but ultimately, I’ll confess that my take on the 2016 NBA Finals is less analytical than emotional.

Cleveland hasn’t won a major sports championship since the great Jim Brown and Frank Ryan’s Browns won an NFL Title in 1964. That’s 52 long years in the wilderness.

images-1This year — with Cleveland hosting Donald Trump’s madcap Republican National Convention this July, my downtrodden but proud, hardworking hometown needs a prophylactic, honorable, full court shot of redemption.

I believe Lebron and the Cavs will make that shot.

So, I say Cavs in 6.

Or less.

Game on.usa-today-9094536.0

2 Comments

Filed under History, Sports, Uncategorized

Small Ball? Please. The Cavs Go Big. Big Time.

Cavs 5Please pardon this Clevelander for crowing – but the Cavaliers have had a very good offseason so far. After taking the Golden State Warriors to 6 games in the 2015 NBA Finals without Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love, the Cavs are fully reloaded for the 2015-16 season.

635490647420316139-USATSI-8144247With Kevin Love’s re-signing on the first day of free agency, the message to the rest of the NBA is clear: The Cavs will be going back to the Finals. And this time, barring injury, Stephen Curry and Co. – or anyone else — won’t be enough to stop them.

So many trendy NBA pundits and executives have gotten all excited about “small ball” and how the Cavs were done in by Golden State’s jump-shooting lineup of shorter players. But the fact is that the Warriors were nearly down 3-0 to a Cavs team without Irving wreaking havoc at the point or Love stretching the floor, grabbing rebounds and knocking ‘em down from long distance.

635597185906014271-2015-02-16-LeBron-KyrieTake a moment to consider the Cavs starting five. This is a team that can start All-Star Kyrie Irving at the 1. LeBron James at the 2: easily the leagues most overpowering shooting guard. All-Star Kevin Love (6’10”) at the 3, Tristan Thompson (6’10”) at the 4 and Timofey Mozgov (7’1”) at the 5. Let anyone else play small ball. The Cavs front line is a shot-blocking, rebound-eating animal – with a guy in Kevin Love who will murder you from the 3-point line.

With this lineup, there is so much less pressure on LeBron night after night. He doesn’t need to score a triple double every night like he averaged in the NBA Finals. He’s got more than enough help in every facet of the game.

AR-150629943A word to David Blatt: This is your starting five. Do NOT be afraid to start such a big front line. There will be plenty of room in the paint for LeBron and Kyrie to drive to the hoop when Love leaks out to the perimeter and a defender has to follow him. And on defense, no opponent is getting to the rim easily — if at all.

16233532-mmmainI’ll be interested to see what the Cavs can do to improve their bench. But just sending Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith back to the bench is a good start. And I love Matthew Dellavedova and his hustle, but we could use a bit more bench help at the point. (Though I do want to keep Deli!)

Say a prayer for good health, Cavs Fans, our long municipal nightmare may soon be over.

And given that the average age of our starting five is just 26 years old — the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks very, very big.

2 Comments

Filed under Sports

Salute to Opening Day!

WorldSeriesClevelandIndians1948-85081With opening day for The Los Angeles Dodgers today, the Chicago Cubs playing their first game of the season tomorrow, and my hometown Cleveland Indians opening their 2015 campaign tonight — baseball prognosticators are saying great things about the potential of all three of these clubs. My fellow Cubs and Indians fans know not to get too excited too early (or ever) — but opening day is all about possibilities, optimism and renewal. So, here’s to an Indians vs. Cubs World Series.

And in celebration of Opening Day, here’s a re-post of a piece from 5 years ago, featuring a bit of satiric verse.

——

I’d like to celebrate the first flowering of the MLB baseball season with a re-print of a poem I wrote many years ago. Full credit must be given to my wife Victoria (who was not yet my wife at the time) who managed in 1988 to get my satiric take on Ernest Lawrence Thayer’sCasey At The Bat” published in the Baseball Bible, The Sporting News.

I still remember being at the wheel of our car when Victoria told me that some sports publication called “the sporting something” was going to publish my poem. “Is it The Sporting News?” I screamed at her, pounding the steering wheel! “Are you talking about the Baseball Bible? The Sporting News??” Victoria was a cool, impossibly groovy girl — but she had no idea how absolutely perfect a publication she’d landed. And, as a relatively good South Side Chicago girl, she could not fully appreciate how I felt when I saw that the legendary Mad Magazine artist, Jack Davis, illustrated my poem.

UPDATE: Before I published this article, I wrote to The Sporting News to confirm the identity of the artist.  In September 2010, I finally heard from Sporting News archivist Bill Wilson that is was he — and not Jack Davis — who illustrated my poem. “I hate to disappoint you,” writes Wilson, “but the ‘prominent artist’ who illustrated this piece was none other than me. I’ll take the compliment, however, as well as the comparison to Jack Davis—it is an apt one, as he was one of the biggest influences on my style. I was with TSN as everything from a staff artist and cartoonist to creative director between 1981 and 2008.” Ultimately, I’m not disappointed. The very talented Bill Wilson did a great job.

Here then, in honor of Spring Training 2010, is my poem — first published in The Sporting News on January 5, 1988.

CASEY GOES TO ARBITRATION

Written by Paul Barrosse

With apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer, a tongue-in-cheek look at baseball today…

It looked extremely hopeful for the Mudville nine that year,
The Spring was full of promise, and the fans were full of cheer.
Then came the news by UPI that hit home with such clout,

The star would not report that Spring — Mighty Casey would hold out!

 
Casey was the MVP on last year’s Series Champ,
And all the writers in the land pitched tents in Casey’s camp.
 ‘Twas “Casey this!” and “Casey that!” and features on TV,

Now when they came to interview, no Casey did they see.

 
The Mudville General Manager, his Stetson hat askew,
Bellowed “I’ll make Casey hold his breath until he turns bright blue!”
 Casey’s agent, Morton Zucker, raised a challenge in the press,

“No Pay — No Play,” read headlines, “We Want Millions — Nothing Less!”

  
The season ticket holders soon stopped calling to renew,
As Casey held out six long weeks, and then another two!
Spring training almost over, and the lineup nearly set,

The name of Mighty Casey was not written on it yet.

 
 On Op’ning Day the Mayor threw the first ball out with shame,
Not a fan inside the ballpark dared to whisper Casey’s name.
The players took the field and paused to hear the Anthem played,

A little boy sat crying, Mighty Casey was delayed.

 
The fans were growing restless, Mudville started 0 and 10,
And rumor was that Mudville would not see Casey again.
But when Casey’s agent Zucker sought an arbitration hearing,

Every Mudville heart believed a blessed settlement was nearing.

 
The Mudville G.M. cried with rage, “This business reeks of greed!
If Zucker wants to arbitrate, then we’ll make Casey bleed!
Ev’ry error he’s committed, every drunk post-curfew spree,

Will be laid before the arbitrator — bare for all to see!”

 
The hearing lasted five long days, as both sides thrashed it out,
Some devoted fans of Casey’s were no longer so devout.
“He has problems with his back,” his trainer testified to all,

“He’s drunk so often, sometimes he can’t even see the ball!”

 
“Casey never hits for average,” Mudville’s G.M. pointed out,
“And let’s not forget the day that ‘Mighty Casey had struck out!'”
The arbitrator ruled that Mudville pay nine hundred grand,

But Mudville brass weren’t buying and they made their own demand.

 
“If Casey wants his money, we demand he do his best,
And since he can’t be trusted, he must pass a urine test.”
Casey’s test results were positive; all Mudville was in pain,

When Casey was suspended for dependence on cocaine.

 
Casey rehabilitated while the season passed him by,
Mudville fell into the cellar while he hung out to dry.
There were stories in the paper, graphic photos told the tale,

Of how Casey got into a fight and spent the night in jail.

  
This was not the season for which Mudville hearts had hope,
The greatness overcome by greed, the dream done in by dope.
By All-Star break, with Mudville’s pennant promise all but faded,

It was announced that Mighty Casey would be reinstated.

 
Casey soon was reassigned to Triple A Des Moines,
First time up he hit a triple, ran too hard, and pulled his groin.
On a minor league Disabled List, laid low by wear and tear,

Mighty Casey waited for his body to repair.

 
July was nearly over, Casey wasn’t yet in shape,
If Mudville had a chance in hell, they could no longer wait.
The day at last arrived when Casey showed up, bat in hand,

And was penciled in the lineup for the final pennant stand.

 
Casey stepped into the box, a hush was heard to fall,
With Mudville on its feet, he tore the cover off the ball.
It smashed against the outfield fence, a triple in the gap,

And Casey, charging hard for third, paused just to tip his cap.

 
The throw from left was right on line, and Casey had to slide,
But Casey’s legs did not react, he could not find his stride.
The baseman put the tag down from the fielder’s perfect peg,

Before the dust had settled, Mighty Casey broke his leg.

 
A silence gripped the faithful when they heard that fateful crack,
And realized that Casey was not ever coming back.
They bundled him with air-splints and they trundled him away,

No Mudville man nor boy alive will e’er forget that day.

 
Somewhere children sing and laugh and play with simply joy,
Somewhere in ev’ry Baseball Play’r still lives the little boy,
Somewhere there’s a place where Baseball’s just a joyous game,
But there is no joy in Mudville — Mighty Casey pulled up lame.

Author’s Note: Of course, if this had been written in the last decade, cocaine would have been replaced by HGH and steroids — and Tiger Wood’s peccadillos would have loomed large. In many ways, my 1988 Casey got off easy.

2 Comments

Filed under Art, Comedy, Sports

My Mid-Season NBA Prediction.

NBA BannerNBA Banner 2Mark the date, NBA fans. Today I’m announcing that the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers will face each other in the 2015 NBA Finals.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta HawksFull disclosure: I was born and raised in Cleveland – and I’ve spent the bulk of my adult life living in Los Angeles. So, you’d be justified in thinking that I’m less than objective. But you’d be wrong.

I’m not betting on The Cavs and Clips just because they’re my favorite Eastern and Western Conference teams. I’m banking on the basketball brilliance of LeBron James and Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul, Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan.

The Cavaliers and Clippers both began the season with high expectations – and both spent much of the first half of the season dashing those lofty hopes.

458127466-jpgFans and detractors alike expressed concerns about the Cavalier’s first-year head coach. It didn’t help that his name was Blatt – and his team played flat. But just as speculation rose that Blatt’s all-star players were gunning for him behind his back – LeBron and Kyrie and company ran off eight straight wins. (And counting as of this writing.)

DeAndre Jordan, Omer AsikThe Clippers have also gelled in recent weeks – with Lob City finally airborne and the league’s best sixth man, Jamal Crawford, raining shots from every corner of the court. With Doc Rivers, their sage head coach and general manager, making just the right personnel moves, the Clipper’s improving chemistry has been evident in their recent six-game winning streak. (And counting as of this writing.)

Both teams have the talent to get to the finals.

Both teams have the postseason experience.

Both teams have superstars at three positions, a brace of perimeter sharpshooters, dominant inside power and rim protection, speed and athleticism.

2013-04-23T193255Z_1_CBRE93M1IB000_RTROPTP_3_SPORTS-US-NBA-CLIPPERS_JPG_475x310_q85And both teams are improving. Just this week, Cavs guard Kyrie Irving just dropped 55 points on the 32-14 Portland Trailblazers – winning without LeBron. And Clippers super sub Jamal Crawford filled it up for 21 points in the 4th quarter to beat the Denver Nuggets.

And they’re just getting started.

Sorry Warriors, Hawks, Blazers and Wizard fans.

It’ll be The Cavaliers versus The Clippers in the NBA Finals this year.

5 Comments

Filed under Sports