The Championship Parade

Wow this was fun. Felt amazing. Very little trouble, just joy and celebration from a region that has waited for this for generations.

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Getting around was not easy


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Here’s where we stopped – E.9th and Superior. After waiting about 2 hours JR Smith finally parted the crowd and started the fun.


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Look at that crowd up East 9th! This is from the top of the building we were in front of on Superior & East 9th


CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 19: Fans fill a parking garage with in view of Quicken Loans Arena during the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals Game Seven watch party  on June 19, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Wherever fans could get up to get a look they went for it. Here’s the Q parking garage at the start of the parade.


Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith stands in the back of pickup truck as he greets fans during a parade celebrating the  basketball team's NBA championship in downtown Cleveland, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

JR was the first guy in the parade and he stood shirtless the whole time. The joy in his face was amazing and infectious. 


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The crowds were so big that the police and volunteers couldn’t keep the road clear. The parade slowed as they had to creep through the crowd. Literally a single violent issue reported – a teenager shooting another teenager in the leg on the way home.


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The King posed in front of his sign and people went nuts! The two princes are up front.


As the parade started the end of the route clogged completely.

As the parade started the end of the route clogged completely. I’m in this picture – one of the wine-colored specks to the left of the tree center-bottom.


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Downtown was swamped. This is the intersection of Prospect/Huron/East 9th


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K Love smiled more in one day than he had in 2 years! He had his championship belt and the love of the fans to get him through to the rally at Mall C.


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You know several of the Spiderman movies filmed in Cleveland…


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Using the camera zoom lens down East 9th to see if the parade is starting yet


A good overview of the parade in route.

A good overview of the parade en-route. It started at the Q (top left – slanted roof), then (counterclockwise) up Ontario, left on Carnegie, left on East 9th, all the way up to Lakeside, then another left to Mall C. You can see the rally crowd already formed top center with the Browns stadium beyond them.  Methinks that’s more than 1.3 million folks.


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A shot of the rally crowd on Mall C waiting for the parade to complete. You can see the Rock Hall in the distance.

We Have A Series

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3-2 at this point. 1 game left in Cleveland. Possible game 7 back in Oakland.

I said 4-2 Cavs so I’ve been disqualified for a bit now. I did predict Kyrie’s breakout.

The Warriors are a resilient, tricky bunch.

The Cavs have a lot of talent and heart too.

We all want a game 7, I think even Warriors fans want a game 7. They don’t want to clinch away from home again.


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Steph Curry has been disappointing in The Finals again. The regular season MVP seems to have some issue when high-level defense is played on his perimeter trick shot game.  When Curry isn’t making 3’s he isn’t doing much for his team. All this whispering about injury is bull. You either play or you don’t, phantom injuries that you won’t speak about don’t matter.

Cavs really need some offensive output from JR Smith and Kevin Love. I’d like to see some contribution from Channing Frye also.

Should be a battle Thursday. Here’s hoping the Cavs live to fight one more day. Game 7 winner takes all I like my chances with Bron and Kyrie.

Palms Get Sweaty and Backsides Get Tight

Thanks for the title, Stephen A. Smith

EPIC FINALS?

THE REMATCH.  FULL STRENGTH.  NO EXCUSES.

Cleveland Cavs

This is the year Cleveland, embrace it!

 

The breakout star of the finals will be Kyrie Irving. There’s still some people sleeping on this dude. He’s got the best handle in basketball. He’s perhaps the best finisher at the rim while rarely dunking. His jumper is liquid. He’s almost Steph Curry level in his difficulty to guard.

In last years Finals, on a bad knee he had like 23/7 against Curry before blowing his knee out completely.

Kyrie

Word

 

I can’t argue with the credentials and abilities of the Golden State Warriors. They are not easy to beat. They are beatable but almost impossible to kill in a 7 game series.

This isn’t about them. This is about the new champs taking it from the current champs. This is about power and finesse and hopefully some hard 90’s style fouls.

I don’t have a ton of analysis this year, I just feel it. Cavs in 6 or 5, it won’t get close to a game 7.

Party time this summer

Photo Credit: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo Credit: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

All To Plan

Prince’s passing has left me a bit shaken. I’m avoiding the mysterious theories and thinking this generally healthy and sober man had pill demons that caught him and he walked into his personal elevator and never came out. The lyrics to Let’s Go Crazy are now loaded with intrigue.

Addiction did not appear to be a long term problem for Prince as he showed none of the outward signs over the last 30 years of his career. But rumors are flying that the last year has been a rough one for the 57-year old entertainer. Painful hip problems led to Percocet and other powerful pills with never-ending prescriptions, and in no time the mighty had fallen. I’ll wait for the tox report before commenting more, but it’s not an uncommon story.

LIFE MOVES FORWARD. The sun comes up tomorrow with or without us. Ask the Atlanta Hawks.

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Prince loved basketball so if there’s an afterlife he’s enjoying this one.

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I’ve been saying all year that the regular season success of the Golden State Warriors is perfect for the Cleveland Cavaliers. It benefits the Cavs more than anyone else.

Regular season means nothing. Playoffs and Championships mean everything. It’s why Jordan is Jordan, Kobe is Kobe, Russell is Russell, Duncan is Duncan, Bird is Bird, Magic is Magic… and then there’s all those other players. Many winners and legends in the mix but there’s only a few that walk around with their hand(s) full of rings.

 

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Lebron James is on the cusp of the circle of greats. He has an impressive resume going to the last 5 finals and winning 2 of them. Most playoff records are owned or being hounded by James and his various teams. But he needs to get to 500 and get one with his hometown Cavaliers to cement his legacy.

Cue the perfect scenario – make James the underdog.


 

Last year was his first year back with his old family after running off to Miami with a supermodel, and it was awkward at times. The big 3 were actually Lebron and two confused all-stars lacking big game experience, a motley mix of role players, and a head coach who had never even assistant-coached an NBA game before.

But Lebron being Lebron, the addition of Iman Shumpert and JR Smith from the Knicks and Timo Mozgov from Denver seemed to fit together for the moment. JR was the sharpshooter, Shump the defensive stopper, and Timo the new Big Z that Lebron could play pick and roll with.

Delly also emerged as a decent backup PG and all around defensive irritant, and the team clicked going into the playoffs. But by the time they reached the Finals they had lost 2 all-stars and were logging huge minutes on the guys left.

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They still got 2, nearly 3 games from the healthy and clicking Warriors, but ran out of juice after running out of options. They were outmatched, out-coached, and still getting to know each other as a team. Delly collapsed and was rushed to the hospital for fluids. Cleveland licked it’s wounds yet again. There’s always next year.

 


This next year has been stable so the soap opera NBA media basically ignored the Cavaliers all year. Blatt wasn’t fired mid-season so much as forced to step aside for his star assistant, a move that all of us saw coming sooner or later. The Cavs didn’t miss a beat since very little changed.

Other than that all everyone talked about was the amazing unbeatable Warriors, and if the Spurs would have enough left in the tank to derail them. These amazing Warriors with their newly crowned King of the NBA Steph Curry! Could they ever be beaten? Have we ever seen something so dominating?

 

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Buzz. No one really cares. It’s the regular season. I’d be terrified if the Cavs won 73 games this year. The last team to win so many games is only talked about because they swept their way through the playoffs (actually 12-3) and got their FIFTH ring in 7 years. See the gentleman with all the rings above.

The Cavs are being treated like an underdog this year but the stats tell something different, and so does the eye test.

 


 

So the setup is perfect. The Warriors are unbeatable. Until their fragile superstar goes down that is, then they are beatable. The Spurs look damn good as usual, the perfect slayer of dreams. The Cavs are rolling, the East (which was stronger than the West overall this regular season) is folding with playoff jitters, and here we sit.

The thing about my predictions is I don’t always see the end of the story. Rarely, actually. I usually see the setup and build.

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I can imagine this is our year. But I was born in #TheLand 9 years after it’s last major title so I don’t get my hopes up too far. My storytelling mind does enjoy this narrative though.

Curry will be back, and the Cavs will face a strong team out of the west. I hope it’s the Warriors because we all want the rematch from last year. The Spurs have always dealt with Lebron better than anyone else.

 

Series Reset 1-1, Moving To Cleveland

Why The National Media Continues to Favor The Warriors

1. They refuse the Eyeball test. Stats are interesting, insightful, and of course the most important single stat determines a win or loss. The new generation of analytics along with our visually mobile culture create an environment where we are easily swayed by charts and graphs. Basketball is suffering through this currently. There are ‘new method verse old school’ arguments around, and in this case I split the difference. Show all the stats and graphs you want, but don’t disregard the eyeball test! Lebron looks like he wants that Trophy more than he ever has before, his team is wounded and scary, they are bigger, play better defense, and who picks against that? Warriors look like they’ve never been there before, the coach and entire roster. Oh yeah, they haven’t. 9 rings on the Cavs, 17 Blatt trophies, and that shows in that no one on the Cavs are sweating (except Kevin Love at every mention of Kelly Olynyk.)

SLAM!

SLAM!

2. Know the sport.  There are fundamental rules in the NBA game that many people miss. First – Playoffs are different than regular season. Regular season is actually the pre-season and people never understand that. Everything is harder in the playoffs. Everything s l  o   w    s   down, every window closes, every gap is smaller, every possession matters. You know the rule that good offense beats good defense? Reversed in the playoffs. Teams shut other teams down, destroy their offense, sweep them out at every level of the playoffs. No team would beat the same team 4 games straight in the regular season but the playoffs are different. Therefore, any analyst that talks about the regular season during the finals is rubbish.

Regular Season? You talking about the Regular Season? We ain’t talking about the Finals, we talking about Regular Season? We ain’t talking about The Finals. The Finals. You asking me about Regular Season?

 

POW!

POW!

These false experts also forget that the NBA Finals is closer to a pickup game played before the world than any formal event featuring beautiful basketball exhibitions. It’s a blood bath, a grind house, a painful struggle that only true champions survive. Cleveland learned this lesson in 2007 when professional champions from Texas exposed our overachieving newbies and a virgin GOAT. Fools underestimate the Eastern Conference champs every year based on regular season offense, combining both mistakes into the great lie. It’s 5 on 5, 1 basketball, for the chip, and regular season stats, politics, concepts, and offense go out the window.

Shump!

SHUMP!

3. Play the sport. If you, your kids, your brother, even your cousin you hang with spent real time playing basketball then you know a real baller, both playground and organized team. They didn’t need to be great themselves, just good enough to be on teams, go to practice, be on travel teams, good enough to get picked at the courts, and to even hold court. If they were professional or semi-pro they are experts. Yes high school counts, maybe even middle school! Bottom line is until you’ve jammed your hip and ass into some dude’s sweaty crotch over and over to keep him off the boards and chop him down a bit on offense you don’t really know basketball.

Appetizing description, I know, but my point is reading or watching basketball is not playing basketball. It’s a grind, it’s a game of sweat, cuts, poked eyes, bent fingertips, millimeters, frustration, and anger. It’s not stats, a narrative, or psychology. Most analysts never played, and only some of them admit it and let the real experts drive their narrative.

ROAR!

ROAR!

National analysts follow bandwagons and they follow sexy stories. We saw it a decade ago with Lebron. Perhaps the Miami version of Lebron wore out his welcome and the narrative has pushed past him, therefore he is not the sexy story, the obvious story, and this is basketball, not Hollywood. Austin Carr said the Warriors play “good basketball but pretty-boy basketball”. Welcome to the trenches.

Game 1 – Missed Opportunities

Wow what a game, what a story.

The big Russian dunks on everyone!

The big Russian dunks on everyone!

First off, message sent.  Everyone claiming the Warriors were clear favorites, ready to wipe the pathetic “leastern conference” champs out with ease, watched the Cavs handle the Warriors for most of the game. Cleveland responded to every Warriors run, made just as many big shots, and controlled much of the game. The “Roaracle” sat nervously on it’s collective hands.

Secondly – what a huge missed opportunity! The first team to get a road win takes the advantage and the Cavs had one right in their hands. They couldn’t finish it out in regulation, let the Dubs take a late lead, then had to tie it and had nothing good for the last shot. Lebron was very good but a stepback three is not needed there, he should have driven and looked for contact.

Then after 44 minutes played Kyrie tweeks his knee again and the Cavs collapse in OT. Uncle Drew had looked good until then, scoring on and defending MVP Curry, but it wasn’t enough.

Warriors are the deeper team but they looked small compared to the Cavs. They are also dirtier under the glass than I thought — holding, pulling, and applying arm-bars all over Tristan and Mozgov, and very few were called. Bogut and Green used every trick in the book to keep the Cavs off the glass, and most of them were illegal, but almost nothing was called.

I’m more surprised than mad about that. The Warriors were more physical than the Cavs and they got away with more dirty plays, and I expected that to be opposite.

I still say Cavs in 6 or Cavs in 7. Lebron, Mozgov and Kyrie played well for the Cavs but no one else really did. Lebron outscored the splash-bros by himself. If/when the Cavs click they are going to blow the Warriors out, hopefully they do it at least once in Oakland.


Previous NBA Finals posts:

NBA Finals Tales of the Tape

Cavs v Dubs: The Main Event

NBA Finals – Tale of the Tape

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These categories are ranked in importance from top to bottom. Notice how Regular Season is near the bottom. Championship experience and pedigree is valued above all else, and in that department the Warriors are total virgins.

As you work down the stats for the Playoffs notice that the Cavs have slightly improved since the regular season ended and the Warriors have slightly declined. Also notice that the Warriors still pass and shoot the ball better than the Cavs.

Coach Blatt is being ignored and disrespected by most NBA types, as they outright dismiss his steady ability to collect championships over a 24 year coaching career. These championships are across various tournaments, leagues and continents, but the same thing happened almost every time – Coach Blatt’s team brought home the trophy. No way can that experience be discarded because it didn’t take place in the NBA. Champions are champions, only the details change in every quest.

 

Other NBA Finals Hype:

Cavs v Dubs: The Main Event

Gotta Make It Happen

Nice knowing’ ya Hotlanta.

 

Remember, playoffs are a different ballgame. It took us a few years to learn that too. Regular season is actually pre-season in the NBA.

Re-sign your guys and quit crying, Delly is just out hustling you, and we will see you next year. Nice season. Also FWIW Korver is overrated.

Cavs verse Dubs is the main attraction, we’ve all wanted to see it for months. No one can stop either team, and they have several of the best players in the L this year.

It should be a battle. I’m afraid to make a pick at this point and the Hawks must first fall in this extreme elimination challenge. Hopefully for Kyrie and Lebron’s bodies the Cavs can end it tonight and get a few days off before the epic.