July 24, 2014

Kyrie and Dion love-fest and keeping the Wahoo narrative alive: While We’re Waiting

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The dumbest press conference ever? – Have you ever seen a press conference where teammates had to stand before the media to tell everyone how good of friends they are? I certainly hadn’t….prior to yesterday:

How would Irving describe his relationship with Waiters?

“Honestly, off the court and on the court, we’re the best of friends,” he said. “So when we come on the court, we’re just going to play basketball like we’ve been doing the past few games and our focus is on winning right now.”

Added Waiters, “On behalf of [Irving], myself, I just think we’ve been in so much media this year, and it’s not fair to either of us.

“I just think, man, throughout this whole year with us two not liking each other, it’s total BS. We’ve been friends before we even made the NBA, before any of this. I just think y’all saying we don’t like playing with one another …

“Yeah, we still need to learn certain things. But I think at the end of the day, we’re genuinely friends. I love him as a friend, teammate, everything. I just want everybody to know that. I don’t hate this guy. I’m pretty sure he don’t hate me. I know he don’t hate me. I hope he don’t hate me. Rome wasn’t built in one day. We’re still young. We’re still planning to stay together. We’re still working. As long as we’ve got great communication down, it’s fine.”

I’ve been feeling a little disenchanted with sports lately. Well, not sports in general. Just Cleveland sports. I have thoroughly enjoyed the NCAA tournament. Last night’s Championship game was a lot of fun to watch. I have no problems with English Premier League soccer. I’m looking forward to the NBA and NHL playoffs. So I can’t say my issue is with sports in general. But I’m just getting tired of the Cleveland sports scene.

There’s no question this has been a trying Cavs season. It started with the early season disappointing losses. Then there was the whole Bynum fiasco. Oh, and Anthony Bennett looking like the worst #1 pickup in NBA history certainly hasn’t helped. And Luol Deng has been a pretty huge disappointment too. And remember the New York stories about how the Cavs locker room was in complete disarray? Pretty much everything about this season has been soul crushing.

But it was getting better. The team played great, well ok, not great, but really good basketball in February and March. Dion Waiters was making the leap. Kyrie Irving and Dion were set to have a chance to play in the backcourt together again and the team was making a charge. The players were laughing. They looked like basketball was fun again. Everything was clicking. And then Friday afternoon, the Brian Windhorst interview happened, and it just sucked the fun right back out. It was completely deflating. Then we had Josh Gordon going on TV to talk about what a mess the Kyrie and Dion relationship supposedly is. And to top it off, of course the Cavs went out and got destroyed by Atlanta in the biggest game of their season, followed by a loss to Charlotte to completely put a nail in the coffin. Just like that, the season was over, and so too was the fun.

Look, I don’t know what Kyrie’s future has in store for him. I hope he plays his whole career in Cleveland, but we all know the odds of that happening are slim. Who’s the last Cavalier to play his whole career for the team? Brad Daugherty? It just doesn’t happen. But either way, I understand Kyrie’s frustration with the circus and why he lashed out. And I guess I get why he and Dion felt like they needed to jointly speak to the media yesterday to profess their love for each other. But still, the whole thing just reeked of Cleveland insecurity. I swear, this is the only place where something like this could happen. It’s all just such a mess and I want it all to go away. Why can’t we all just realize exactly what Kyrie and Dion seem to have realized…that they are young, developing players who need each other on the court and need to time to continue to grow that on-court chemistry?

It’s not just the Cavs, either. Beyond Josh Gordon’s involvement, we have the whole Jimmy Haslam-FBI thing hanging over all our heads. Then there’s Alex Mack who is doing everything in his power to get the fans in Cleveland to turn against him. And how soon we forget the Browns just got done firing a coach after one season, letting the President and GM hire the new coach, and then firing that President and that GM.

It’s just not fun for me right now. I’m pretty tired of all of it. I love sports. The games themselves are as fun it gets. But there’s so much stupid drama that surrounds Cleveland sports and it’s quite literally driving me insane. Well, maybe not insane, but it’s driving me to a certain form of lethargy with respect to the teams I love. Can’t we just have some good teams to root for without all the silly stuff? Is that really too much to ask for?

Some words on my ever-evolving stance on Chief Wahoo – You know, it’s funny. I keep hearing people say they’re so sick of this topic. I can relate. I used to feel the same way. But the more I search Google and read about the oppression of American Indians and their struggles with their own identity and not being able to control the stereotypical view most Americans hold of them, the more I want to talk about Chief Wahoo. It just makes me want to help lend a voice in any small way that I can. It’s easy for most of us in our relatively comfortable existence to sit in judgment and get angry because someone wants us to change our sports logo. But the near-extermination of American Indians carried out by our government has left them as a people whose population was whittled down and fractured across the country. It left them without the ability to speak in a unified voice for a very long time. But the internet has changed all of that.

It’s so easy to learn about anything today. All the knowledge in the world is at our fingertips on our computers, our tablets, and our phones. We just have to be willing to take the time to read and learn. For over 30 years of my life I was pro-Wahoo. I was one of those scoffing at the idea that anyone could be offended by something as “harmless” as a mascot or logo. But then one day I decided to research the topic and read more about it. Not just Wahoo, but all sorts of Indian mascots, logos, names, traditions, and imagery across all sports. I read article after article with interview after interview with real American Indians who talked about how harmful these images are to them. And I realized that, without meaning to, we’ve been hurting actual people for a very long time.

Look, I don’t mean to be preachy. I know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind. But I just hope people can realize this isn’t a made up issue. This isn’t about “white liberals”. I’m not a liberal and I am staunchly opposed to Wahoo. It’s not about political correctness or anything like that either. Not for me, anyway. For me it’s about all those interviews I read. It was about understanding, finally, that my idea of what American Indians were like isn’t based in reality at all. It’s based on fictionalized stereotypes. It’s rooted in a world where kids watch cartoons like this without even realizing what they’re watching:

I keep hearing people say that they want to see American Indians speaking out against Wahoo, with the implication being that it’s mostly White Male Americans who are making this an issue. Well, first of all, if you’re truly interested in hearing from American Indians, please search Google. It’s out there and you can find it and read about it if you really want to. And secondly, of course the voice is louder from White Male Americans. American Indians have been reduced to a tiny minority. As of 2012, only 1.2% of US population are American Indian. So how loud do you expect them to be? Their inability to be heard isn’t a function of them not caring. It’s a function of the reality of their existence.

At the end of the day, fighting for an image that offends people just isn’t that important to me. I root for the Cleveland baseball team. Not the name “Indians” or Chief Wahoo. I’ll root for these players no matter what they’re called. I have a suspicion that everyone else would, too.

Ok, time to end this on a lighter note – We’ve got yet another pretty darn good week of new music to enjoy. For you fans of 80s hardcore punk, Keith Morris’s retro-punk band Off! has a new album out titled “Wasted Years”. Former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante has a new solo album, “Enclosure”. Detroit rockers Protomartyr released their stellar “Under Color of Official Right”. Pop punk fans might enjoy the self-titled debut album from Pup.

But for me, my favorite album coming out today is EMA – “The Future’s Void”. Call it what you will….rock, pop, whatever….to me it’s just pure enjoyment. Erika M Anderson, or EMA, made some pretty huge waves in the indie world a couple years ago with “Past Life Martyred Saints”. It was an album that I didn’t love. But almost everyone whose opinion I respect seemed to really love it. This time around, the songs have a more straight forward purpose that works for me. These are just really good songs. And this album has what is easily one of my favorite songs of 2014 so far:

  • Garry_Owen

    You talkin’ to me? Hey, look, I know I used the phrase, but, like, it’s just another way to say “I think” or “I believe,” which is, like, opinion, man, not an introduction of facts.

  • mgbode
  • mgbode

    hate the block-C. at least the script-I is unique.

  • mgbode

    in my opinion, it is more important how we use the name moving forward than why it was picked over 100 years ago.

  • MrCleaveland

    Sorry, I’m trying to be as generic and inoffensive as possible.

  • mgbode

    And I appreciate the civility from both you and Steve in responses here. And I appreciate even more a day-long meeting ending 2 hours early :)

    I also agree with you (doubt the world will ever be as I hope and know that it can be) but I believe I left enough wiggle room in my statement to account for the reality of humanity. I just think it is more important and useful to push the boundaries on social issues rather than to give in to societal tendencies. It is rarely easy or pretty, but it can be beneficial. That is why I prefer to make real attempts to incorporate the history and the people with the current team and insignia. If they refuse, then find out why. Move forward rather than just dropping the name without useful discussion. If, after such discussion, there is still too much of a divide to bridge, then you change the logo or even the full name as well.

    And, I also realize that entire paragraph is using race as a characterization, which I truly hate. But, I understand it is a necessary step towards race not being important. Incorporate all races as one and you will have one race of humanity.

  • mgbode
  • Harv 21

    One of my great parenting triumphs was curing two teens and some of their friends in about 90 minutes, at our dinner table. Just by widening it to all contexts, until they could finally hear it. As in, “I feel like that shirt is very blue” and “I feel like you should pass me the Sriracha,” On deck: the upward question inflection at the end of each declarative statement. Maybe have Putin do it: “So we have interests in Ukraine we must protect? And no one has the right to tell us how to protect our interests?”

  • Harv 21

    I feel like you’re paranoid.

  • Steve

    I get that argument, even if I still think it’s essential to understand where certain outdated ideas came from, and why they’re wrong.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m not. I just feel like everyone is out to get me.

  • mgbode
  • Steve

    “I do appreciate that you don’t accuse those who wear Wahoo as racist, but it appears that a sizable portion of those who find it racist similarly accuse those who wear it of being racist. That’s a shame.”

    And it’s a shame that a sizable portion of those who defend Wahoo are primarily concerned with whether they are called racist or not.

  • RGB

    Keep the name, just correct the logo.
    Chief Wahoo is the wrong geography.
    Duh!