Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

All hail the King; the game’s best player has Cleveland on his chest

Just about every Cleveland area sports writer worth his salt wrote a Hal Lebovtiz tribute column. It was in one of those columns, I discovered why some lame brains saw Hal as a dinosaur. Hal was unabashedly pro-Cleveland sports teams, oh he would criticize those that had it coming often mercilessly, but he wanted Cleveland teams to win. He made friends with those he covered and it was often the reason, he scooped everyone else. But apparently the modern way to cover sports is to treat it as journalism. Must remain independent. Show no emotion. Be clear, concise and fair.

Suppose I am old school or at the very least not a journalist. I am not going to apologize for it. If Bay is playing Lake Catholic, I am going to say “we” even though I am not a graduate. I cover eight schools and when they are not playing each other, then I want them to win. It makes a better story and it is a lot more fun. (Well of course, except for your kid’s team — you know I hate that team right — that’s why I don’t cover them.)

So suffice to say, I am not much of a press row kind of guy. The Indians press box is like a funeral parlor. It bores me senseless, which is why I was so attracted to the WTAM party booth. Yelling and hitting things are a part of watching sports. But attending my first ever Cavaliers game as a member of the press, I thought it was best I try to blend in and be on good behavior. I wanted to be allowed back.

It was a good plan, but just over two minutes into the game, Larry Hughes found LeBron James on a fast break and the Chosen One took the alley-oop and slammed it home. I was about half-way through my fist pump and Wookie yell when I caught myself.

I must have looked ridiculous with my arm jerking into the air then smoothly turn into sweep of the hair as I swallowed my guttural scream. I mean here was Flight 23 taking off and the rest of press row moved in unison to silently write it down as two points- James, assist Hughes.

In the second quarter, when LeBron buried a three. I celebrated by raising my eyebrow as to not disturb the working media. Then I checked the middle of the jumbo tron to find out what the “diff” was.

On the next possession, when LeBron drained another long distance bomb. I found a way to keep my inner child repressed, but I heard another reporter yelp, “Whoa.” Amateur, I smirked outwardly, but my toes did a little victory dance under the table.

When his third shot in row found the bottom of the net, that got the press boys excited. A few turned their heads and mouthed things like “Are you kidding me?” and “Unbelievable.” It was pandemonium run amuk.

Journalists aside, the Q was jacked and the crowd didn’t need a Ritalin-popping announcer, drumlines, hip-hop kids tossing frankfurters or booty-shaking dance girls, LeBron being Jordanesque was more than enough. There was a buzz. This chosen thing is for real.

Not since Jim Brown has Cleveland had a player who was the best at what he does. (Expect for Albert Belle, but he left for big money and was mean to trick-or-treaters so he has been blotted out of the book of Cleveland but I digress, I still love ya Joey!)

LeBron not only has lived up to the hype, but each year he is getting better. Blesses with all of the talent in the world, he has a work ethic to match. He said he had something new in store. And he was keeping his promise.

After the timeout, LeBron got the ball at the top of the key. He had a defender draped all over him. But the crowd willed him to shoot it. It was like that commercial dude told us all last season, this was the moment. And you had to be there.

And he drained it.

Even press guys lost their composure.

Journalism be damned. We are in the presence of the King.

The kid has a way of firing you up. People were talking championship after the game. Someday, but Friday night’a game against the defending champion Spurs, showed this team has a long way to go.

But the pieces are there and so is the best player in the game. After all of the bad teams, this town has season - enjoy this. It is a once in a generation oppurtunity.

LeBron says the team can win 50. I agree. Fifty wins gets them in the playoffs. But 50 wins is just the first step. This team is not complete. It will have its ups and downs, but the most important is that the Cavaliers are now must-see.

Whether it is at the Q, at home on the couch or at your local pub — this is team worth watching. We have the best player on the planet and he now has the pieces to give himself a chance to play on the stage he wants.

As the commercial says, “Where we going coach?”


Put me in coach, I am ready to play, I will just aim at the middle one

If a drunk stumbles into a bar and is served several more shots, the establishment can be held accountable for any actions the drunk does.

So if an injured athlete makes the decision to play hurt, can the team and coach be held responsible?

Sounds like a silly notion right?

If the Colts’ Marvin Harrison wants to play with a cast and not let the doctors look at it because he is going to play anyway, then he is a hero right?

Teddy Bruschi of the Patriots had “minor” stroke but eight months later he is playing football. The doctors fixed the problem and football is his job. So he is back with his teammates.

But then there is the injury that can’t be seen. Wayne Cherbet of the Jets suffered a concussion on Sunday. He has had at least nine. I always chuckle at “at least” because I use it all the time myself. I have had “at least” seven and I have the scan of a dead spot to prove it. At certain point, I don’t even bother going to the doctor. I can’t afford (and my insurance doesn’t cover) the best medical care so it is ice packs, pills and the occasional barf bag for me. Sometimes it is hard to determine what is just a headache and what is a concussion? When the room still spins three days later or you get nauseous driving on a bumpy road, maybe it was something than a bump.

Speculation says this concussion may end Cherbet’s career. His coach says that is up to Cherbet.

“It's something Wayne's going to have to determine with the doctors,” Herm Edwards said. “He's going to have to make a decision on what he wants to do. It's always the player's decision at the end of the day. The medical people can advise people. Wayne's at the point of his career where he's going to take a long hard look at what he wants to do.”

Every athlete wants to be there for his teammates. Especially those with concussions, they look healthy so they should be out there paying the price for victory like their brothers in arms. If you can walk then you can play, right?

Sometimes someone else has to step in and say “No.”

I played rec league and open gym basketball after concussions. Many will tell you, after every concussion I received on the basketball court, I always shot lights out. I still went back and played well after I knew I was playing with fate. And I don’t even get paid a million dollars. I understand why Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Chris Chandler and Cherbet come back.

But take even another step. A high school kid. How many concussions are suffered on soccer and football fields every week? I question no kid who wants to be right back out there. I understand. I know there are different types of concussions. I also know about avoiding doctors so they can’t tell you bad news.

I can’t imagine Cherbet’s head. I know what is like to live in mine. Staring at screens, trying to recall what I was doing. Trying to guess your password or ATM code. Holding a phone in my hand, trying to remember who I just called as the phone rings. I know there is more than one school secretary out there who has been on the end of one those calls, where I forgot who I called and hung up. Learning to write everything down like you are in the movie — you know the one with that guy — I am always forgetting names.

It is not sleeping soundly for weeks at a time. It is learning to live with headaches, because the pills tore up your stomach. It is looking like everything is fine and not being able to explain that you are not. You don’t wear cast on your gray matter. Months later, symptom free sometimes there is a bad day.

If I am Wayne Cherbet or a high school kid, I am suiting up for my teammates. I understand Herm Edwards is played a lot of money to win football games, so he wants Cherbet if it can help him get a win. I know I would trade some brain functions for a title, hell, I traded some for a pick-up game.

If someone as a concussion, especially if it is high school kid, it is up to someone else to make sure that person is healthy. Here is hoping if it is your kid, someone does.