August 1, 2014

Cleveland Plain Dealer rejects full-page ad trolling LeBron

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On Tuesday, when I was driving around listening to the Dan LeBatard show, they were discussing a plan to buy a full-page ad either in Cleveland at the Plain Dealer or in Akron at the Beacon-Journal. From what I could gather, they were upset that LeBron James had not thanked Miami fans, either in his essay/letter in Sports Illustrated or in the Miami papers. You know what? They might have a bit of a point, but that’s not my fight. Word this morning on Cleveland.com is that the Northeast Ohio Media Group has declined to run the full-page ad, turning down the money.

Representatives of The Dan LeBatard Show called the Cleveland media outlet on Tuesday to purchase a full-page advertisement in this Sunday’s edition of the newspaper, Northeast Ohio Media Group Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mike Maleski confirmed. NEOMG sales staff are responsible for ads in The Plain Dealer.

The show’s request was “politely declined,” Maleski said.

This is what the proposed ad would have looked like according to Twitter-housed Heat fans.

Trolling LeBron

I have to say, I think it’s a funny idea. Throughout the whole LeBron returning saga, one major takeaway for me is just how good a radio show Dan LeBatard has in Miami. He’s funny, he has a great perspective and he doesn’t take himself very seriously at all. Once you realize how sarcastic and self-deprecating he is, it’s really a great show—there’s a reason he’s been picked up nationally.

And even allowing that I like LeBatard and I think he’s funny, good on the Plain Dealer for turning down the ad dollars that they could have made running this advertisement. I mean, it was probably an easy choice not to allow their pages to be used to taunt their readership, but still.

[Also see: Cavaliers to reportedly play in Miami on Christmas Day]

Cavaliers to reportedly play in Miami on Christmas Day

LeBron James will reportedly return to Miami for a nationally televised game on Christmas Day.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported the rumor late on Tuesday evening, citing a personal familiar with the situation. The schedule is expected to be released in the next week or two.

The Cavaliers-Heat game is set to take place “barring an unexpected change of heart by the NBA.” The game, much-desired by ABC, would likely take place at 2:30 or 5 p.m.

We’ve seen murmurs already of the Cavs reportedly playing the San Antonio Spurs on Opening Night. Certainly, the Cavaliers will receive dozens of national TV games this year — probably as many in one season as they’ve had in the previous four since LeBron’s departure.

Are you as a Cavs fan upset by the road game on Christmas Day? LeBron returning to Miami obviously is a bit more of a storyline than Cavs-Heat in Cleveland. There will be plenty other of hyped games at The Q this season, anyway.

LeBron James was Born to Run

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I’ve said it multiple times before on my podcast, but I’ll say it again: I’ve always wanted to see LeBron James play on a team full of young or entering their prime highly athletic players. James has been a part of some great offenses, mainly due to his talent. His final two years as a Cavalier, the team ranked near the top of offensive efficiency and hit threes at a higher percentage than the rest of the league save for the Nash-led Suns. The problem being is that they played at one of the league’s slowest pace and the entire offense was built around Lebron James pick n’ roll in the half court while spacing the floor with shooters. This offense carried over to Miami, though they mixed it up a little as James began to initiate offense from the post where he almost unguardable one on one, something that Cavaliers fans had been screaming for him to do throughout his last two seasons in Cleveland. Still, LeBron teams have always spaced themselves well in the half court and played relatively slow compared to the rest of the NBA. His teams have almost always been in the bottom third of pace and, excluding his rookie season, none of his teams were even at or above the league average.

[Read more...]

LeBron James to appear in Judd Apatow movie, Trainwreck, starring Amy Schumer

LeBron James was caught on set of the new Judd Apatow movie Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer. TMZ (of course) has video of LeBron walking to a car. The film is being shot in New York city.

LeBron is far from the only cameo in this movie. Other names listed on the IMDB include John Cena and Method Man. The plot of the film is still a secret, but the movie stars Amy Schumer, Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, Tilda Swinton, Marisa Tomei, and Bill Hader. All I know of the plot is that Schumer plays a “basket case who tries to rebuild her life.” We’ll just have to see how LeBron plays into that.

The cameos give me a bit of pause, but if I had to bet on a comedy, I would be hard pressed to bet against Amy Schumer with Judd Apatow directing.

Anonymous sources, jersey numbers, and peeing on people? While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday WFNY!

I often like to start my WWWs with a cold open. Perhaps it’s because I like a lot of TV shows that have used them really well over the years, or else I just enjoy a good anecdote. Whatever the case, I enjoy them, but I was struggling to think of one for this week.

So I figured I’d start this week with a question for you readers, as I am by nature curious about the things that other people are curious about. So the question is this: If you could travel back in time to one specific year/period, when would you travel to?

There are so many amazing stories throughout Europe’s rich history that would be fascinating to visit. Or maybe it would really be amazing to journey back to Judea in the ancient Roman Empire and find out first hand what that Jesus of Nazareth guy was all about. I think an obvious time to travel back to would be the birth of the American Revolution and watch the uprising unfold first hand.

But my answer would be something different. I think I would like to be there when the Pilgrims first came to America. Granted, I know how especially brutal that first winter was for the new settlers, so maybe I don’t need to be there when they first land. But I would love to see what this land looked like when it was untouched by European explorers. While, yes, there were some areas of swamps and rough wilderness, the pilgrims actually experienced a rather peaceful looking countryside with many parts not all that unlike what they knew back home in England. I just think it would be awesome to see what America was really all about before it was America.

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Are anonymous sources bad for sports?

Over the weekend, Sam Amico delivered a pretty fascinating piece on his disgust for rumor-mongering in the NBA, and he placed much of the blame on a combination of anonymous sources and NBA players and personnel not talking to the press.

You can count me as one of those who have grown exhausted with all the rumors that have persisted in this offseason. I’ve always been someone who has loved following NBA rumors and trying to decipher which ones are grounded in truth and which ones are complete nonsense. But with the pervasiveness of media today, the rumors are inescapable and suffocating.

So how much are unnamed sources to blame? And if they’re a problem, how do we go about fixing them? Well, there isn’t an easy answer. As Amico wrote:

Back to those ever-present unnamed sources. It’s a problem with today’s NBA coverage — and yes, guilty as charged. But the NBA can work on changing that. I don’t know how. I’m not running the league. I’m just some dude who writes and occasionally goes on TV.

I think a big reason why I enjoyed Sam’s piece so much is that he was upfront and honest that he himself has relied on and used unnamed sources in his reporting. One of the things I like the most about Sam is that he’s unafraid to admit what he doesn’t know. Just because someone doesn’t have the answers, it doesn’t mean a problem doesn’t exist.

Twitter is littered with some of the worst offenders of spreading false rumors. It often exists to serve the role of the proverbial wall upon which rumors are thrust to see what sticks. Fake Twitter accounts pop up all the time proclaiming themselves insiders. If they rumor they spread comes true, they stake their claim in the glory. If the rumor turns out to be false? No problem, they can just create a new Twitter account and start all over and try to guess right the next time.

I don’t know how to feel about it all. On one hand, these are real people’s lives that are being discussed and thrown into chaos because someone decided to start spreading a rumor. On the other hand, as Amico points out, a little more transparency would go a long way toward squashing some of the more baseless rumors.

From rumors of Kyrie Irving’s discontent in Cleveland, to rumors of Dion Waiters punching Kyrie in a players’ only meeting, to talk of LeBron’s return, and all the various rumors of multiple Cavaliers being sent to Minnesota for Kevin Love in a trade, this past calendar year has been a cesspool of rumors in Cleveland. This is yet another reason why, at this point, I am more eager than ever for this offseason to be over and for the season to start. I just want to talk about basketball again and get away from the soap opera side of sports.

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23 it is

At least one mystery has been settled. Over the weekend LeBron James took to Instagram to announce that he will indeed go back to wearing number 23 on his jersey again in Cleveland. On the list of things I care about, the number that adorns LeBron’s jersey ranks awfully darn low. As long as it says “Cleveland”, “Cavaliers”, and/or “Cavs” on it, I really couldn’t care less what number he wears.

But I still surprised to see some light backlash to this decision. Some of it was national, but a fair amount of it came from Cavs fans. Yes, when LeBron initially announced he was changing numbers from 23 to 6, he cited his belief that nobody should be allowed to ever wear the number 23 in the NBA again. So sure, he went back on what he said at that time. Who cares?

I once proclaimed that I would never own an Apple computer. And yet here I sit writing this on my Macbook Pro, which I consider my favorite computer I have ever owned. When I first heard Radiohead’s album “Kid A” back in 2000, I initially hated it with a passion. I found it offensive and an affront to what that band was capable of. Today, it will make any list of my Top 5 Favorite Albums of All Time. I once said that I was done with TV forever, with the exception of sports and news. I vowed I would never watch another sitcom or drama, and even called them poison of the mind. Today, I am complete TV drama junkie. I went back on my word and dove head first back into watching TV.

I have a feeling I’m not the only one to say I thought one thing or was going to do one thing, only to later go back on that proclamation. It seems like such a bizarre thing to criticize LeBron for, even if the criticism was pretty mild. Players who wore the number 23 last season include Allen Crabbe, Anthony Davis, Austin Daye, Draymond Green, Kevin Martin, Toure’ Murry, and Marcus Thornton. So it’s not like LeBron’s initiative was working anyway.

Or maybe there’s a more sinister explanation. Perhaps LeBron’s real reason for switching was due to Miami having retired the number 23 and LeBron already knew he was going to Miami when he announced the number change. I mean, that’s probably not the case, but who knows. I just know that any angst over what number he wears is awfully ridiculous.

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A quick word about baseball’s big Hall of Fame weekend

I admittedly don’t discuss baseball much on my Tuesdays, but this was a pretty incredible weekend for baseball’s Hall of Fame. They inducted one of the best classes I can remember with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony La Russa all going in. It was an all around excellent weekend for MLB and the Hall of Fame.

But there were some undertones that perhaps bothered me a bit. The Hall of Fame announced a change in the ballot. Now, players can only be on the ballot for ten years, as opposed to the current fifteen year limit. This was a move obviously designed to make it harder for any of the steroid era players to get in. As some of the more hard line voters get older, there was some thought that the younger generation of voters might start voting some guys in. The Hall was having none of it.

I’ve always felt that players like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire deserve to be in. I know what they did, but these were still two of the best players I have ever seen in my life. Barry Bonds doesn’t deserve to be the Home Run King. There’s no question steroids helped him reach that level. But I do not think steroids made him a Hall of Fame player. I think he got there on his own. I personally would rather just see these guys get in. It’s not like we’re ever going to forget the steroid era and what all went on. As long as Bonds holds the records, which he probably will for a very, very, very long time, nobody will ever forget.

But we also don’t know who all was using. How many pitchers were also using? We just don’t know.

Another thing that wasn’t lost on me was Tony La Russa owing a decent amount of his success to guys like McGwire and Jose Canseco. I find it hard to believe that La Russa was completely in the dark about what was all going on. This isn’t meant as a criticism or to say he doesn’t deserve to go in. Just that it feels a bit “off” to me that he was able to reap a lot of the benefits of players using steroids without the accountability.

Finally, a word about Maddux. I remember the tail end of Nolan Ryan’s career. I vividly remember the freaks of nature that Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens were. But for my money, the best pitcher I have ever seen was Greg Maddux. He didn’t rely on other-worldly velocity to get guys out. Instead, he was an artist on the mound, painting the corners and pinpointing the ball exactly where he wanted it. The guy was completely untouchable on most nights.

Having said all that, I am a little surprised more isn’t made of the fact he supposedly used to pee on rookies in the showers. That sounds made up, I know. But it’s a story that’s been around for a while. Then a couple weeks ago, David Fleming wrote a brilliant piece talking about the culture of showers in sports, particularly in relation to Michael Sam being the NFL’s first openly gay player. In Fleming’s piece, he mentions Maddux’s ritual of casually walking up to rookies in the shower and peeing down their leg. I guess that’s supposed to be a form of team bonding, or something. Or maybe it was just another way for Maddux to exert his dominance, I really don’t know.

The only reason I bring this up is because Fleming’s piece reminded me of it, and it’s put into a different context when you consider the Jonathan Martin situation last year. He walked away from his team over incessant verbal harassment and financial burden, yet Maddux peeing on teammates is told as a light hearted and “funny” anecdote.

The point is, sports are weird. It’s not always easy to distinguish where the lines exist. What makes some athletes the good guys and others the troublemakers? In society, peeing on people is frowned on while using illegal substances is often bragged about. In sports, the opposite is sometimes true. I’m no moral authority and I’m not here to tell anyone what is right or wrong. I can only speak for myself and say that while this was an amazing weekend for the Hall of Fame, it also somewhat illustrated to me how strange the culture of sports can be at times.

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LeBron of Oz OH

Dawn Griffin, a long time friend to WFNY, is a top notch graphic designer, artist, and illustrator. She has done all kinds of work, including some work for WFNY, but I’ve always enjoyed her Zorphbert & Fred comic series. Dawn recently came up with this great LeBron comic centered around the idea that “there’s no place like home”.

LebronWizardofOz

If you would like to see more of Dawn’s work, check out her website at http://dawngriffinstudios.com/.

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An attempt to find an album of the week

Finally, July is almost over. I know I’ve mentioned this in previous WWWs this month, but July is historically an awful month for new music releases. The music industry seems to take their vacations in July and only a small handful of good releases trickle through. But this July has been especially brutal. There are a couple albums I’m looking forward to in August, but for now, we still have one final new music Tuesday in July to get through.

This week is no exception to previous weeks. Not a whole lot out there to pick from. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have a new album out today, and former Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis releases her first solo album since 2008’s “Acid Tongue” today. Her new album, “The Voyager” is a nice indie pop album and I do highly recommend it. In fact, I had planned on this being my pick for new album of the week. But I’m going to go in a slightly different direction.

I’m sticking with the indie pop theme, but for my new album of the week, I’m going with Hooray for Earth’s new album, “Racy”. Hooray for Earth are, of course, a Brooklyn based band which utilizes large quantities of synth pop and tries to reformulate them into indie rock context. You’ll hear comparisons to the likes of MGMT and Yeasayer tossed around, but I don’t find either comparison to be all that appropriate. At their core, Hooray for Earth write more tightly constructed songs and everything is wrapped around the hook of the song. And yeah, this band is super catchy when they want to be.

 

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That’s it from me this week. We are just ten days away from the Browns’ first preseason game of the year. It’s so close I can feel it. Football season is right around the corner! Have a great week everyone!

 

LeBron James, Johnny Manziel, boring Tribe and more with Chad Zumock – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-28

WFNY Podcast LogoChad Zumock joins the podcast for the first time. Here’s what we talked about.

  • Chad talks about his relationship working with Jim Florentine
  • We talk about LeBron James coming home and Chad reporting sports
  • Johnny Football vs. Brian Hoyer
  • Cleveland Browns training camp and zip lines
  • The boringness of the Cleveland Indians
  • Is baseball boring in general now?
  • The steroid era
  • The Jim Thome Statue

And much much more.

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Check out this episode!

Supporting cast, contract confidence yields Wiggins-Love answer

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Kevin Love. Andrew Wiggins. It’s been exhausting, and we’re looking at four more weeks of it as the No.1 overall pick’s contract clock ticks. Granted, it’s not “LeBron James” exhausting. It’s more nervous excitement. The Cavaliers are going to have three REALLY good players one way or another. I’ve been quite outspoken in my desire to hold onto Andrew Wiggins, and I stand by that earlier sentiment. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not excited by the thought of James, Irving, and Love playing together in Cleveland.

But, if I’m reading the writing on the wall, Kevin Love will be a Cleveland Cavalier, Andrew Wiggins will probably be a Minnesota Timberwolf, and the weight of expectations on the Cavaliers will increase. They’ll go from Eastern Conference contender to supposed Eastern Conference shoe-in and maybe even title favorite. And that’s the scenario I want to talk about. [Read more...]

Kevin Love may not opt in, Cavs may not care

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While many continue to debate the merits of players involved in a deal for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, the great unknown continues to be how long Love would call Cleveland home. There are rumors that he’s demanding a trade to Cleveland and wants to play alongside LeBron James; Cleveland would be the only place he would commit to in the way of a long-term deal, starting with an opt-in for 2015-16. But The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto says not so fast:

Love is guaranteed $15.7 million this season, with a player option for $16.7 million in 2015-16. I wrote a column insisting the Cavs should demand Love pick up his option before making a deal. Talking to some NBA executives, that could be a problem. One executive explained how the best move for Love may be to come to the Cavs on the current deal — no changes. He becomes a free agent in 2015, then signs a five-year deal for the maximum (could be more than $100 million) to stay here. …

If Love picks up his option for 2015-16 this summer, the most that a team can immediately add is a two-year extension. I’m hearing Love will not pick up his option… I’m hearing the Cavs realize they may have to accept Love’s current deal and gamble on him enjoying playing in Cleveland and with James. Then they will try to sign him for a maximum deal in 2015. So don’t be shocked if a deal is made with his contract situation staying the same.

There has been plenty of Twitter angst surrounding this aspect of the deal. On one side is a group saying that you can’t gamble with a No. 1 pick in Andrew Wiggins if you’re only going to get one year out of Kevin Love. On the other side are those saying that Cleveland team’s have gone decades without swinging for the fences and have wound up empty-handed. The Collective Bargaining Agreement certainly only muddies the waters even more.

Do the Cavs trust Love? Does Love love Cleveland? Stay tuned. We’re about to find out, one way or the other.

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

LeBron’s mind and Kluber’s cutter: While We’re Waiting…

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Browns camp is under way, LeBron chose his jersey number and the Indians finally won a game. Happy Monday, kids. Let’s dig in.

LeBron James has always had a way to recall certain instances of his on-court life. Having covered him during his final year in Cleveland back in 2010, I was always intrigued by the way he would seemingly flash back to certain second-long frames in his mind—certain plays, specific floor placement, time, date, location, you name it. If you haven’t read Brian Windhorst’s extremely well-reported piece on this very characteristic of the four-time MVP, do so—now. (I had considered using this in this week’s #ActualSportswriting, but it’s too good, and too pertinent to just quote.) While cynics may attempt to poke holes in the video game anecdote, the details that James can recall years after they occur are astounding. James already came pre-packaged with an insane physique, possessing an adult’s body as a teenager. The fact that his basketball IQ is through the roof as well—well, it’s almost unfair. The story about the game-winners in Golden State? Incredible.

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If you haven’t been following along, Grantland has been rolling out some high-quality work on MLB’s best pitchers. It was only a matter of time before Corey Kluber received the “PitchCraft” treatment, getting his due just hours after dominating the Kansas City Royals late last week. I mean, we know Kluber has been downright filthy this season, but just how filthy? His most thrown pitch, his sinker, isn’t even his best pitch. Kluber’s cutter is currently the fourth-best in all of baseball, providing almost a foot difference in movement when compared to his fastball. His slider? Well, that’s held opponents to a .079 batting average this season thanks to nearly 11 inches of horizontal break—an MLB best. Only the Padres’ Tyson Ross has more strikeouts with his slider (84 to Kluber’s 72), and he’s thrown the pitch twice as often.

The Grantland piece also reiterated what we said earlier, Kluber has been this effective despite having a higher BABiP than many of the other pitchers ranked in the top 10 in WAR. Kluber, following his outing against KC, was third in wins above replacement, having been worth 4.3 additional Ws.

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Hey, did you guys hear about that one really good take? Yeah, me neither. Here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportswriting:

An Idiot in Exile” by Pat Jordan (Sports on Earth): “Johnny Damon was a major league baseball player for 18 years. He won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2004 and another one with the Yankees in 2009, which is why he once said, “Being a baseball player is so great.” He said the game “was fun,” and winning championships was even more “fun.” He learned how to have “fun” with the A’s and then taught his teammates with the Red Sox and Yankees how to have “fun.” His concept of “fun” was mostly that of a young boy. … He dropped water balloons from the upper floor of hotels on passing pedestrians below. He and his teammates held down other teammates and poured ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard all over their clean uniforms, which he thought was hilarious. In the clubhouse he performed pull-ups naked, his penis dangling in his teammates’ faces. He liked to “party” after games with his teammates, drink booze, smoke pot. He collected women as if they too were toys. Some might say that his sense of “adult fun” was a lot like his sense of childlike fun.”

The Passion of Roger Angell” by Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated): “Writing well is hard. It requires constant thinking. The gears, flywheels and levers of the mind click and clatter nonstop. Writing is flying an airplane without instruments, almost always through the dark storms of doubt. It is new every time. There’s an added difficulty with writing about baseball: The writer ages but the players do not. They are perpetually young, replaced almost imperceptibly by younger versions of themselves. Every season is like a summer-stock version of Bye Bye Birdie. Then one day a ballplayer with $100 million banked calls you “sir,” and you realize the chasm has grown Olduvai Gorge–wide.

Playground Basketball is Dying” by Myron Medcalf and Dana O’Neil (ESPN): “If there is a holy ground of playground hoops, it is the space here near 155th Street, just off the Harlem River Drive. The Harlem Garden, old-timers used to call it, and it is hardly hyperbole. If Madison Square Garden is billed as the world’s most famous basketball arena, this is its outdoor cousin. This is where Julius Erving shucked the nickname given to him by a Rucker announcer — The Claw — and argued to be called The Doctor. This is where Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury, fresh off being selected as the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, respectively, in the 1996 draft, partnered for a dream backcourt; this is where Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston went from local legend to NBA player; and this is where Kareem, Dominique, Wilt, LeBron, KD, Kobe and so many other first-name-only star players have dropped in for at least one game in their respective careers.”

Mean Girl” by Kelefa Sanneh (New Yorker): “In M.M.A., more than in most sports, athletes must be promoters, too. Rousey is smart enough to know that one of her promotional assets is the way she looks—she has appeared on the cover of not only ESPN the Magazine but alsoMaxim, which called her “Badass & Blonde,” and photographed her in a garment that seemed highly unsuitable for combat. Of course, this asset can be a liability, too, especially for a female fighter seeking the same respect given her male counterparts.”

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Calling my shot now: That Tom Verducci profile of Roger Angell will be discussed in nearly every year-end “Best of” piece when it comes to sportswriting. It’s the pen-and-paper, modern day equivalent of Mozart covering Beethoven. Verducci is easily one of the best sports writers working today; Angell is a legend, currently 93 years of age and still plugging along. He’s not in the BBWAA—which is simply fantastic given how antiquated and unnecessary the BBWAA is—and is the first to ever win the Hall of Fame’s award for baseball writing to have not been a member. Independent writers (or “bloggers”) could learn a lot from Angell who almost always wrote as a fan. Good news is, The New Yorker unlocked their entire archives for the rest of the summer, so you can catch up on any of his pieces that you may have missed. I recommend starting here. Then go here.

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You all obviously listen to the great work that Craig does with the WFNY podcasts. But as radio continues to loose steam, pandering and forcing senseless debate, I continue to listen to more and more podcasts by national types. Playing off of the success of Bill Simmons’ BS Report, ESPN has rolled out podcasts for Grantland’s Zach Lowe and ESPN.com’s Jason Whitlock. A few that I recommend: Lowe and Lee Jenkins, talking Cavs; Whitlock and Scott Raab, talking Cavs and Cleveland; and Whitlock and ESPN’s rock star reporter Ramona Shelburne, who spoke candidly about reporting and women in sports.

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And just because:

Report: Cavs could host Spurs on NBA’s Opening Night

Danny GreenThere has been plenty of discussion about when and where the Cavaliers will have some high-profile matchups on national television, something that’s been sorely lacking for the last four seasons. There’s no doubt that LeBron’s return to Miami will be one of those signature games, but that’s more likely to be on the Christmas Day slate. At some point, LeBron will face his nemesis in the Spurs, and that moment could come as soon as Opening Night in the NBA on TNT.

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe is reporting that Spurs at Cavs could be on the slate.

“Rumor has it that the NBA’s season-opening game on TNT will be San Antonio at Cleveland, the first home game for LeBron James in his return to Cleveland and the first game for the defending NBA champion Spurs. The NBA schedule is expected to be released next month”

The NBA’s recent tradition has been the defending champion opening up on national television at home to receive their championship rings, often in a Conference Finals or NBA Finals rematch. I’d be just as pleased to see a high-profile Eastern Conference and division rival to start the season in either Indiana or Chicago. The first home game in Cleveland will be a truly special game and moment to be certain, regardless of who the team plays. The Cavaliers were 3-1 in Opening Night games during James’s time in Miami, but they lost their last three seasons openers with James (2 vs. Boston, 1 vs. Dallas).

Related: Mike Miller signing and some Dion Waiters thoughts

(Photo: Eric Gay/AP)

Mike Miller signing and some Dion Waiters thoughts

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Does this look like ‘bench’ material to you?

The Cleveland Cavaliers reached a deal with veteran sharpshooter Mike Miller, reportedly being ready to sign the 14-year veteran to a two year deal worth around $5.4 million, including a player option for the second year. Miller is a favorite of homeward-bound Cavalier LeBron James (yes, that was as fun to write as it probably is to read) and he, by all indications, chose the Cavaliers over more lucrative offers from the Denver Nuggets and possibly Houston and Dallas. According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, Miller had a longer-term, higher-paying offer of around three years for a total of $12 million from Denver. But he followed LeBron’s decision by wanting to play in Cleveland. For less money.1

Now it isn’t as if Mike Miller is hurting to feed his family, as Latrell Spreewell once proclaimed after being offered a $30 million extension from the Timberwolves that he felt was below his value. Miller, according to Hoopshype, has made just under $76 million in his 14-year NBA career. But due to his age, this could be Miller’s last shot at a long-term deal. You could be asking yourself, “Who is this guy and why is he writing about a deal that is yesterday’s news?” We’ll get to me later, but the answer to the latter half? Because he chose to come to Cleveland so he could play alongside the best player in the world and possibly compete for additional championships, that’s why. Why is this all significant? Because Miller wanted to come to Cleveland! No, he isn’t a game-changing player—although he will really help spread the floor with his dead-eye three-point shooting. Players want to play with LeBron and Miller’s signing demonstrated this. Hopefully this is just the first of many veterans that choose to come to Cleveland in order to win big and play with LeBron.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Yes, the deal in Cleveland doesn’t include a third year so the actual comparison to the Denver offer has to be looked at in the prism of Miller and his possible contract two years from now, because he will most likely be getting paid something after his two-year Cavalier deal. But by that time Miller will be 37 and it would be surprising if he could still get close to that $4 million that Denver would’ve still been paying him. So for arguments sake, let’s say Miller will be playing for the veteran minimum of about $1.5 million two years from now. That means he would’ve taken about $5 million less over three years to come to Cleveland. That is quite significant. []

NEOMG looking for LeBron James beat reporter

BronHome

As the Northeast Ohio Media Group looks to redefine their coverage of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the wake of long-time scribe Mary Schmitt Boyer’s retirement, the group that spearheads Cleveland.com and The Cleveland Plain Dealer are looking for a beat writer. But not a Cavaliers beat writer per se—a LeBron James beat writer.

James’ return to Cleveland has been the talk of the summer in the sports world. With standard, robotic, lede-quote-stats game recaps going the way of the rotary phone, NEOMG wants to make sure they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to covering one of the biggest stories in Cleveland. From the job description:

Bring your sports, news and investigative reporting experience to one of the most challenging reporting jobs in the country, covering the sports performance, business dealings and community leadership of basketball star LeBron James. You’ll cover all aspects of his roles in Northeast Ohio and nationally as he returns to the Cleveland Cavaliers, writing, creating videos, and posting across multiple platforms including all relevant types of social media. You’ll also participate in broadcasts where you discuss James, working closely with reporters assigned to cover the Cavaliers and the NBA.

Kudos to NEOMG for breaking the mold among newspaper-based outlets. The changes they have made to their Ohio State coverage has been noticeable. They’ve also started to break the mold a bit in their Tribe coverage. The intriguing aspect of this specific position, however, will be what sort of access, if any, is provided to said writer outside of the typical scrums and scheduled appearances. Here’s hoping it involves investigative, non-deadline, writerly items as opposed to the mere repackaging of others’ reports.

You know what they say: Prose over pose.1

 

 

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Footnotes:

  1. Actually, I’m not sure anyone’s ever said that. Ever. []

Has Andrew Wiggins actually been included in a Cavs offer for Kevin Love?

 

flip saunders

Someday we’ll find out these things for sure, but the sources and details are flying and as is often the case, there’s disagreement or at least confusion. Most everyone who thinks about this potential trade at all assumes that Minnesota talks about Andrew Wiggins and that the Cavs likely do as well. The wording on the reports doesn’t necessarily put them at odds, but it’s confounding to try and figure out what’s actually happening.

Take this report (most recently updated July 23rd at 2:03 PM) from Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

Cleveland’s offer, sources said, would be headlined by No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013′s No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future first-round pick, with one source close to the process insisting Tuesday that the Cavs are destined to acquire Love. At least one more player might have to added to the package to satisfy NBA trade rules.

And then Sam Amico’s tweet from this afternoon at about 5:00 PM indicates that despite talk, the Cavaliers haven’t actually offered Andrew Wiggins in any trade proposal.

It’s enough to make you want to rip your hair out. So the Cavs and Wolves are talking about deals for Kevin Love. Invariably Andrew Wiggins’ name comes up to the point that he is “headlining” the Cavs’ offer, and yet when it comes to actually discussing potential proposals, the Cavaliers aren’t actually offering Wiggins in any of them?

So the conversation’s like this?

Minny: “Yeah, so if we can get the expiring deals right? Then maybe find one player other than Andrew Wiggins that we want to keep… and then also Andrew Wiggins… that’s what we’re thinking.”

Cleveland: “So we need to get expiring deals and one player other than Andrew Wiggins that you want to keep….” (trails off)

Minny: “And Andrew Wiggins.”

Cleveland: “I hear what you’re saying. Hmmm. Yeah. Talk to you later!”

Have the Cavs really technically not offered Andrew Wiggins in any scenario? Does any of this have anything to do with the timing of finally signing Wiggins today? I guess we’ll find out for sure in the next 30 days, but even with the Browns starting training camp this weekend, I don’t think that’s just going to fly by without a lot of turbulence in the rumor mill.

Not looking forward to that.

LeBron James, WWE Wrestling and Tribe playoffs with @SPORTSYELLING – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-24

WFNY Podcast LogoI like to have @SPORTSYELLING on the podcast and she’s gracious enough to make the time. Today we had another fun conversation about the following.

  • Being dragged into watching WWE wrestling with her husband
  • Dangerous tweets
  • The impact of the LeBron James signing on a hardcore Tribe fan
  • The Indians chances of making a run at the playoffs
  • Winning streaks and whether or not you can ever see them coming
  • Is there blame to go around for the Indians record so far and if so to whom?
  • The LeBron James kids book that Craig bought stinks

Check out this episode!

Cavs sign Andrew Wiggins, start 30-day “no trade” clock

Does this scream "passive" to you?

It’s finally happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers have announced the signing of their number one overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins.

[Also see: WFNY's Kevin Love Trade FAQ]

https://twitter.com/WojYahooNBA/status/492398283781054464

As Woj and Windy point out, the thing that we’ve been talking about for a long time now has happened. On the one hand, he can’t be traded for 30 days. On the other, now instead of carrying a value of $0 in a trade, he will potentially carry that $5.5 million number if he’s traded. While that helps from a salary matching standpoint, I’m sure there’s some impact on the “leverage” that might or might not exist between the Cavaliers and T-Wolves.

So have at it folks. Let’s hear another round of speculation and scenario building about the Kevin Love trade.

And… GO!

Watch: Frank Caliendo reads LeBron’s letter as Morgan Freeman on ESPN

By now, in popular culture and society at large, it can sometimes seem as if nothing in life carries any weight to it unless it is narrated by Morgan Freeman. Be honest, when reading LeBron’s letter on SI.com a couple weeks ago, how many of us heard it in Morgan Freeman’s voice inside our heads?

Well now we can actually hear what that would sound like. Voice impressionist extraordinaire Frank Caliendo stopped by the Mike & Mike set on ESPN this morning, and read LeBron’s letter in Freeman’s voice. And no matter how tired anyone might be of Caliendo’s ubiquitous impressions, this is a pretty funny listen. Enjoy!

Ray Allen leaning toward joining Cavs

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The Free Agency haul rolls on as Ray Allen is reportedly leaning toward signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This report is according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

Allen is expected to have MRIs on his legs to make sure they’re healthy, so nothing will be official until after Thursday. Mike Miller, another recent addition, has been recruiting Ray Allen to join him and LeBron James—both teammates of Allen in Miami—in Cleveland.

“With LeBron James, you are going to win 55 to 60 games regardless,” Miller said on ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd Show. “Now it’s about what you do in the playoffs. For us, even with the young talent that they have there, you’ve got to bring guys that have been there before, even if they are not giving you heavy minutes. Because those are the guys that understand the preparation, the adjustments, things like that can really bring those guys along. And then you build it from there.”

The 39-year-old Allen was fielding offers from the Cavs as well as the Houston Rockets in addition to contemplating retirement. He is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point makes with 2973, and over 19 years of professional play, Allen has shot 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Anthony Lima talks about LeBron, Johnny Manziel and local sports media – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-23

WFNY Podcast LogoAnthony Lima joined Craig to talk about local sports media, LeBron James, Johnny Manziel.

Anthony Lima and what it was like to break the LeBron news live on the air.

The Plane, Zydrunas and more on the reporting of the story

The risks of being wrong and getting punished

Opie and Anthony and losing your job for what you say on twitter

The pitfalls of a public life on twitter

Check out this episode!

LeBron James sends cupcakes to neighbors to apologize for pre-Decision commotion

SByCODx

Pastry and LeBron James links live on for another day. In the wake of The Decision 2.0, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and his family have apparently decided to apologize to his neighbors in the most fitting way possible: designer cupcakes.

Recall, in the week leading up to James’ letter that stated he was returning to Cleveland, a local cupcake shop out of Canton, Ohio was one of the first to have “insider” information, posting LeBron’s impending return to their Facebook page. Not long thereafter, Bath, Ohio police were stationed outside of James’ residence, leading to an evening-long commotion on his street as TV crews and cars had parked on both sides of the street.

According to a resident who claims to live on James’ street, a package of cupcakes from the LeBron James Family Foundation was delivered to his home Tuesday afternoon with a message inscribed:

We know that things have been hectic in the neighborhood these past few weeks and we are sorry for the chaos.

We are so thankful to live in this community and we are so blessed to have understanding neighbors like you.

FOX Sports Ohio spoke with the individual who stated that the package was hand-delivered by the company, though they had no face-to-face interaction with James. Needless to say, this is a gesture that would have been nearly unfathomable during James’ first run with the Cavaliers. Also needless to say: They look delicious.

(Via Reddit)

Dion Waiters added to US Men’s Select Team

waiters sullinger

Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters is one of 13 NBA players named to USA Basketball’s Men’s Select Team. The Select Team is essentially a practice squad for the Men’s National Team. Kyrie Irving was on the Men’s Select Team prior to the last Olympics.

“USA Basketball’s Select Teams are critical for getting some of the game’s brightest and most promising young players experience at the USA National Team level, and getting them into our pipeline,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball National Team managing director.

Both the National team and the Select Team will train in Las Vegas July 28-31, in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

In addition to Waiters, the Men’s Select Team is comprised of Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors), Trey Burke (Utah Jazz), Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Tim Hardaway Jr. (New York Knicks), Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic), Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls), Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic), Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets), Miles Plumlee (Phoenix Suns), Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics) and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets)

Kyrie Irving is the lone Cavalier on the Men’s National Team this year. LeBron James will not be participating in the FIBA tournament.

[Related: Whitlock says Canadian players "don't want it as much"]