Well, hello there good people of WFNY. I hope this finds you well. Typically, these Monday morning While We’re Waiting…s expound a bit on whatever the Cleveland Browns did a day earlier while mixing in some brief—very brief—commentary on the Indians. But given that the NBA season is officially upon us and I tend to focus most of my reporting and writing efforts on the Cavs, that’s all you’re getting. Sure, we’ll have some Winners and Losers in a bit; I’m sure we’ll have a weekend Tribe recap as well. But today—today is all about the Cleveland Cavaliers and the circus that will soon roll in to the plush palisades of Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence, Ohio.
We will be in attendance once again, as we have been for each of the last five seasons. While David Blatt is set to tip things off this afternoon around 12:45 p.m., you can rest assured that the top storylines will be as follows:
5) The return of Mo Williams
Welcome back, Mo Gotti. When you left the city of Cleveland, it wasn’t on the best of terms. You were asked to do a bit more than should have been the case, carrying a team on your back that had suffered a battery of blows to the gut. Now, you’re back. Fresh off a season wherein you dropped 52 points, and you’ll be wearing No. 52. You’re going to be asked to provide a spark off the bench, an area that has been a bit offensively deprived over the last 12 months. But unlike last time around, rather than being surrounded by Alonzo Gee, Christian Eyenga and Samardo Samuels, you’ll have J.R. Smith, Anderson Varejao, and Richard Jefferson.
We’re all going to want to know how you’re feeling, what it’s like to be back in Cleveland, and what the fans mean to you. We’ll also ask you what your expectations are for this season, to which you’ll provide nothing but the most optimistic words of wisdom—maybe even a cliché or two. Either way, this is all in preparation for the standing ovation you’ll get on opening night.
4) Coach Blatt, Year 2
Welcome back, David Blatt. Can a guy who went to the NBA Finals be on the hot seat? You were one of the most polarizing members of the Cavaliers organization who just so happens to no longer be a rookie head coach by any measure—a good thing to have behind us all. You’ve had moments of scrutiny. You’ve had your moments of glory. You’ve had moments of being physically pushed by LeBron James. How have you embraced them all?
We’re all going to want to know how your offseason was, what you learned from your first season, and how much contact you had with LeBron since we last spoke. You’re going to tell us a few jokes, maybe even give the media a little jab. It’s all in fun. But your first few weeks of this season will be very telling. How will you fare without much in the way of a margin for error?
3) The health of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving
Hey guys, how are you feeling? How was Miami? Are you going to be ready for Opening Night? Will you be on a minutes restriction? Kevin, how was posing naked for ESPN The Magazine? Kyrie, when’s the next Uncle Drew commercial?
2) Anything LeBron James
If anyone is glad to have the entire Homecoming storyline out of the way, it has to be you, right LeBron? Between the camp you held in Miami and the focus you displayed throughout the course of the offseason, it’s clear that you’re not pleased with how things ended in June. What do you have in store for us this time around? Can you possibly have any more tricks up your sleeve? Most importantly: Did we retire “Chill Mode”?
1) Tristan Thompson
That Tristan Thompson, the team’s reserve power forward, can be the top storyline on a team that arguably rosters three of the league’s top 20 players says all you need to know about where the NBA is right now. A transaction league where fans pretend to be a mix general managers and salary cap experts and Dan Gilbert’s accountant, the current contract impasse will be the focal point of questions lobbed to every member of the Cavaliers who speaks this afternoon. Each of them will be met with “we wish he was here” rhetoric mixed with “it’s still a business” discourse.
Smashing hot takes with a tackhammer since who knows when, here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportswriting:
“Remembering the great American life of Yankees legend Yogi Berra” by Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated): “Berra would go on to become, in most arguments, the greatest catcher in baseball history and, without argument, the greatest winner the game ever has known. Berra saw baseball and America grow up. He entered the sport when it was an all-white game and left it when indoor baseball arrived.”1
“Teen Who Accused Kevin Johnson Of Sexual Abuse Speaks Out” by Dave McKenna (Deadspin): “Johnson retired from the NBA in 2000 and left Phoenix for Sacramento, where he went into politics and became mayor of his hometown. He’s since faced sexual-abuse accusations every so often. These allegations have been made by different people in different places and at different times, but tend to follow a very similar pattern.”2
“The audacity of Peyton Manning” by Kevin Van Valkenburg (ESPN The Magazine): “It takes Peyton Manning 15 minutes to shed his suit of armor after a game. He begins with his cleats, which he can barely untie without assistance. A Broncos equipment staffer helps peel them off his feet while he does a radio interview, because after nearly 25 years of football dating back to high school, it’s a relief to not have to bend over that far. Next come his shoulder pads, which, when yanked over his head, generate a groan that is a mixture of suffering and sweet relief. Manning’s pale arms and torso are covered in fresh scrapes and old bruises, some the color of strawberries, others a shade of eggplant.”3
And finally, since Rock will likely talk about Deafheaven tomorrow, I feel completely in the clear to share two of the albums on my rotation: Drake and Future’s “What A Time To Be Alive” and Fetty Wap’s self-titled album.
It’s been one hell of a year for hip-hop, something that’s great to see given the last few years of otherwise forgettable releases. Drake has been a busy man, and Fetty is easily one of the biggest breakouts of the year4 The latter may not resonate with everyone as Fetty has a familiar sound that permeates through all of his music, making it easy to lob the “this all sounds the same” trope about the Internet. But the former…Let’s just say that Cavs fans will want to get used to hearing several tracks from #WATTBA. Not only is LeBron James boys with Drake, but the song “Big Rings” is an absolute banger that will undoubtedly be attached to the Wine and Gold for 2015-16—”I got a really big team that needs some really big rings” Drake blasts throughout the chorus.
Keeping up with the modern age’s surprise drop of albums, Drake gave the world just a few days notice that #WATTBA was on it’s way. Conveniently, it took the same amount of time for the album to jump to No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200, Drake’s second such placement this year alone. What a time to be alive, indeed.
Have a great Monday, you guys.