Sunday, June 3, 2012

What is the value of spite? A short musing on LeBron James, Cleveland, and this Girl I Used To Love Irrationally, by Ryan Braun:

The following LeBron James, “it girl,” spite musing was first published on Cavs: the Blog back in February. Here it is again, reformatted for whilst maintaining the integrity of the original post. I hope you enjoy it/hire me for lots of money.


In “honor” of LeBron’s coming to town this week:

Now here we have an interesting dilemma, and I’d urge you to think it through before arriving at any, let’s say, decisions…

You know what? Let’s not even start with LeBron. Let’s start with a conveniently analogous anecdote.


When I was 22 (a year older than CTB’s own C.S. McGowan), the first girl I’d ever dated broke up with me. I’d made mistakes along the way — mixtapes are cute, but you better be a real lumberjack if you want to bookend one with Aladdin — still, the dumping seemed irrational. I was caring, attentive and I put out reasonably well for a nebbish, sexually-terrified faux-adult whose romantic repertoire prior to that relationship consisted of saying “I’m going to kiss you in 10 seconds,” and then counting down the remaining :09.

In spite of all that, she left me for a disinterested 28-year-old physical therapist.

It was brutal.

It was why, for months afterward, I refused to rehab anything professionally.

And it’s kind of related to the debate at hand.


Two weeks ago, I stumbled on Sam Amico’s now semi-dated article re: the prospects of LeBron returning to Cleveland, and it was that which got me thinking about this again (both the LeBron situation and my beautiful ex — the latter pictured below in a visual approximation).

I’m sure you’ve all read the story.

There is talk, Amico writes, that LeBron is discontent in Miami — “less-than-thrilled with certain aspects of the Heat organization.” It’s not Wade and Bosh, SA continues, it’s “the heavy-handed and disciplined style of Pat Riley.”

None of this is particularly substantive or surprising. That Brian Windhorst corroborated kept me from writing off the return possibility without first giving it some thought…but I did give it some thought and came to the conclusion that we’ll see Obama as governor of Mississippi before we see LeBron, as Windhorst speculates, back in Cleveland and honored with a statue.

To even get us to the precipice of a return would require not only Dan Gilbert’s acceptance of a LeBron reconciliation, but an apology from LeBron himself, plus a general admission of wrongdoing. In other words, LeBron would have to publicly take some responsibility for the split with Cleveland and at least in some capacity, publicly admit he may have done a thing or two to draw Gilbert’s ire.

None of the above is going to happen, and perhaps because of that, the likelihood of the above happening is not really what I’m interested in.

I’m interested in us.

I’m interested in what we might do if the situation presented itself.


When that girl broke up with me, I sulked pretty bad.

I didn’t leave the house for a week. My mom gave me a bell I could ring for ice cream and I just stayed in bed for the whole seven days. It wasn’t a good look for a 22-year-old, and about the only thing I gained from the wallowing was an abject certainty that Night Court was underrated.

I also made possible the taking of this picture:

Dark, dark days.

But then, as if forced to by my mother, the next Monday I got up and moved on with my life. I got a job as the production office intern for a movie filming locally and made such an impression delivering lunches that I was offered a job in Los Angeles, also delivering lunches.

My mom spent a week in bed with the ice cream bell, and then I left.

I won’t say my motivation was to become a famous actor solely to spite the girl who’d left me… but I will write it.

My motivation for moving was to become a famous actor solely to spite this girl who’d dumped me.

I’d never acted.

I’d never been to Los Angeles.

It was a healthy and financially pragmatic move.

But it did do one thing; it allowed me the time and the space to recover. It allowed me to move on with my life. It allowed me to start anew (and/or metaphorically draft Kyrie Irving depending on where you are in the analogy.).

Within three years, I was shopping at Whole Foods and driving a Prius. I was still delivering lunches, but now they were fancy.

I didn’t see that girl again for three years, and I really wasn’t planning on initiating anything ever again until she emailed me one day totally out of the blue…to see how I was doing, to see “how life was treating me,” and to see if I’d be attending the wedding of one of our college friends in a couple of months.

And so we started talking, and reminiscing, and telling each other that there were no hard feelings.

I said I’d be going to the wedding and staying in the recommended hotel.

She asked me what floor I was staying on.


My biggest issue with the sports fan of the 21st century is the following: With very few exceptions, the 21st century sports fan is f’ing fickle! I haven’t been alive long enough to definitively state that things haven’t always been this way…but I’m pretty sure that things haven’t always been this way.

Sports have become a mixed bag of opportunism and sentimentality, admittedly for me as much as anyone. I mourned the departure of Big Z, but in no way did I take issue with his trade. I’ve despised the high-profile player movement of the past few years, but I’m the same guy who was pitching Dwight Howard to Cleveland last week.

And now, in analyzing the tenets of immediate gratification (something that, again, I seek as much as anyone)…I’m starting to wonder at what point will opportunism snuff out the sentimentality that gives sports its heart in the first place? And if that’s a possibility, how far gone are we already?

From the booing of home teams in even the most hallowed of locales (its happening from Cleveland to Green Bay), to the relatively crass pursuit of big-time free-agents in every major sport (again, Dwight Howard), I feel like the opportunism is taking over. This is probably a positive in the NFL-ian way that it keeps everything interesting for everyone always…but it’s not so good in the crafting of true loyalty, of true fans, and ultimately, of the lovable “throwback” players we keep pining for.

There’s a romantic (if idealistic) group of sports fans craving a better kind of athlete.

I think in order to facilitate that, we may need a better kind of fan.

Someone for whom opportunism is not the priority.


That said, I totally get why it is.

We’re back at the reception now and I’ve had four glasses of wine plus I really can’t hold my liquor (At all. That “I’m drunk” picture came after a lone White Russian.) and the/that/my girl is looking more pretty than is probably appropriate at a wedding with a bride.

I asked her how her grad school was going and she told me about her residency.

She asked me how my acting was going and I told her about my appearance in a Swedish life insurance commercial.

And then we just stared at each other for a moment…after which time she asked me if I wanted to see some of the things she’d learned in medical school.

I’ve never been hit on in my life…except for potentially that.

“What floor are you on?”

My floor.

Jim Gray walks in and he sets up the camera.

I am not a role model.


What would you say to LeBron James if he asked to come back (and/or asked you up to room 304)?

First remove the backdrop of improbability, and then, with as much hypothetical honesty as you can muster, ask yourself what would you do if the only thing standing between a 29-year-old LeBron returning to Cleveland, returning to a team featuring an abundance of young talent, a blooming superstar in Kyrie Irving, and potentially another in Harrison Kidd-Davis, was you…

What would you do if the only thing standing between a Cleveland team and a 3-4 year championship run was the return of LeBron James?

In that very specific case (coincidentally, an amplified version of so many other cases)… what is the value of spite, and in how much of that spite lies your credibility as a sports fan (or in my case, as a man in general)? In how much of it lies your ability/right to enjoy a championship?

When LeBron James left for Miami, he was most roundly criticized for copping out.

We’d hoped he’d be the greatest player of the past twenty years, and instead he ended up choosing to play with his only real rival in the league while complaining about “the pressure of going out, scoring 30 every night.”

“Championships are championships,” LeBron ultimately said. The ends justify the means, because presumably, no one remembers the means.

If history proves him right (and while I sincerely hope that won’t be the case, I do realize it might be), would you be willing to sacrifice championship ends for a means that ultimately may not be remembered?

I think the obvious answer is, “Yes, of course. Pride over title any day of the week.”

And I think that’s what I’d want to say… I just hope I’d say it.

I spent my fourth year in Los Angeles listening to way too much Aladdin.

AWARDS WATCH (39.4% of the way through the season):

NBA MVP – LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat (27.9 ppg, 8.2 reb, 6.9 ast). The real purpose of this article was to compare LeBron James to a girl (WIN)…unfortunately, that girl is playing about three levels higher than anyone else is this season. I don’t know if he’s recovered enough good will to actually win MVP, but he clearly should if Miami ends up anywhere near the top of the league. Along those lines, the Heat are a game back of the Bulls and Thunder right now and while he’s tailed off a bit lately, LeBron has been dominant in keeping the Heat afloat despite inconsistent assistance from Dwyane Wade.

CAVALIER MVP – Andy Varejao, PF/C (10.8 ppg, 11.5 reb, 1.7 ast). I’m in the camp that wants a better draft pick and I still thought the Varejao injury was devastating. Andy’s been playing at an All-Star level all year, and to see that momentum interrupted by such a fluky play is immensely frustrating. Silver lining: There’ll be a lot less pressure on him when we land Anthony Davis.

NBA COY– Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers. I don’t think the Sixers are a threat in the East, but boy are they are fun to watch. They’re young, they’re well-rounded and they share the ball. I fear they’ll end up a well-constructed team held back by lack of star power…  but in the meantime, much of the credit for their resurgence should go to Collins.

CAVALIER COY – Byron Scott. I’ve made jokes every week about Byron’s lack of competition for this spot, but in truth I’m really impressed with the job he’s done this year. The games we’ve not competed have been few and far between, and the development of our youth (by far the season’s most important facet) seems to be going remarkably well. Tristan Thompson may have plateaued, but Kyrie Irving and Alonzo Gee get better with each passing week.

CO-NBA ROY – Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (10.9 ppg, 4.5 reb, 8.7 ast) & Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (18.0 ppg, 3.5 reb, 5.1 ast). I still think Kyrie’s the better player, but with KI missing a few games courtesy of Dwyane Wade’s knee I think it’s fair that Rubio be acknowledged as well. Ricky’s shooting is a substantial limitation, but it’s one some other stars share. It’s striking how much of his game resembles Rondo’s. Rubio is such a good set-up man and he’s far more active defensively than I initially gave him credit for. Ultimately, I don’t know if I see the athleticism to make up for his inability to shoot comfortably from the perimeter…but if he carves out a niche as a poor man’s Jason Kidd/Rondo, I think Minnesota will deal.

CAVALIER ROY – Kyrie Irving, PG. Since I last did this, Kyrie’s started winning games down the stretch single-handedly. It’s been kind of astonishing to watch. I don’t know if he can make the type of jump LeBron did from Year One to Year Two, but he also might not have as much distance to travel. If he can condition himself to the point where he can run (really run) 36 minutes a game… we’ll all have to reassess what his ceiling might be.


Ryan Braun writes at, but he also posts a picture with an article to Cavs: the Blog once every two Sundays (which he often does barely and by PST technicality). He appreciates your reading, and also you in general.

Funny Quotes: Richard Nixon Quotes Gandhi

Richard Nixon and Gandhi proudly and posthumously present “Funny Quotes,” entry number one.

Funny Quotes — kind of a “Funny Plates” derivative but yet a totally new thing.

A totally new section of the site!

You see, for years I’ve felt the quotation market untapped, and because no great man ever complains of want of opportunities, let they words be few.

I hope you enjoy these.

The power of imagination makes us infinite.

Money over everything.

Here it is again.

Money over everything.

By Ryan + Aron, for

Monday, April 16, 2012

Justice for Trayvon Martin: Mitt Romney to the rescue

Mitt Romney features Trayvon Martin in justice-oriented ad campaign.

On the evening of February 26th, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman inside a gated Sanford, Florida community where he was living with his father, stepmother and little brother.

More recently, in an effort to court black voters (which, contrary to the assertions of Newt Gingrich, means to try and woo them)… Mitt Romney released the attached set of pictures — mock-ups for a potential ad campaign tentatively titled, “flip the script” — in order to gauge the public’s response.

(As is one of the blogs being used to gauge, please let us know what you think.)

According to Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul, the FTS campaign will attempt to promote two central conceits.

They are as follows:

One – Mitt Romney is an everyman.

Two – If Mitt Romney had a son, he would look like an amalgamation of all the murdered minorities of the past 10 years.

Should reception to the campaign be positive, Sauls hinted that Romney will consider tattooing a likeness of Trayvon on his chest — possibly with the intention of revealing it for the general electorate during an upcoming presidential debate.

Romney stated that if a Latino child were killed, he would consider taking similar action.

Romney is believed to be unconcerned with Muslims.

Per Sauls, Mitt Romney will be appearing Friday at Coachella with the Tupac hologram.


(Ps- So I don't get sued again...please know that as with most things on this blog the above post is just about entirely made up. I appreciate your readership tremendous amounts. Ryan.)


By Ryan + Aron, for the

Friday, April 13, 2012

Occupy Halas Hall: Pay Matt Forte Chicago Bears!

Chicago Bears must pay Matt Forte or Occupy Halas Hall will become reality.

As a semi-recent hire of Bear Down Podcast — unquestionably the preeminent Bears comedy podcast on the internet — I thought it might be in my interest to help solve the escalating Forte problem/ensure Chicago maintains a formidable team* for 2012.


Pay Matt Forte.

It’s not that Michael Bush isn’t great — both at football and at improv — it’s just that Matt Forte is better. And as most football types seem to be opining, Matt Forte also deserves better.

“Everything they’ve asked, he’s done,” said even the incoming Bush of the Bears and their star runner. “But that has nothing to do with me.”

It will soon.

Three days ago, Forte refused to sign his franchise tender…which means that right now — at least contractually — he’s not a part of the team. If someone doesn’t step up to the plate with relative haste, this thing has the potential to drag on into training camp.

So here’s my second suggestion…


Nobody has to get hurt (and people will be allowed to take showers this time), but how ‘bout we cause a ruckus Chicago?! As soon as the Bulls beat the Heat in the playoffs and all of Chicago (and Cleveland) can rest easy, how ‘bout we turn our attention to Halas Hall?

Matt Forte is one of the more consistently productive backs in the league + a perfect fit in Chicago’s presumptive Ticeian offense.

Let’s make sure he knows that.

Also, let’s make sure we listen to Bear Down Podcast.

It’s awesome + I get a free burrito if you mention this article via Twitter. (TWEET THEM HERE!!!)

Do it. (Maron inflected.)


A Browns fan who likes the Bears for work (and in truth, actually kind of came to like them anyway!)


(*My “Brown Out” podcast is the lowest rated audio entry on iTunes. Thanks Holmgren.)

(PS- I've just been informed that it’s POSSIBLE I’m not the first one to think of this “Occupy Halas Hall” thing… so a quick shout-out to the literally 10,000 similarly titled Google search results people whose idea I stole.)


By Ryan + Aron, for (BDP is also available on iTunes and Stitcher. I'm really good at my job.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Herman Cain vs Prominent Muslims Series: Herman Cain vs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Herman Cain battles prominent Muslim Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as we return to CFAAP’s most popular series!

We’re still working through the backlog, and next up is a return to the once oh-so-promising series: “Herman Cain vs. Prominent Muslims.”

In case you missed the first…

HC v. Muhammad Ali.

Sadly, due to the unforeseen and semi-impractical lawsuit that has slowed the rocket-like take off of this blog, the “Herman Cain vs. Prominent Muslims” series may be left in the end an unfinished work (unless Herman Cain can beat off Chris Christie and Paul Ryan for the 2016 nomination — unlikely because Herman left things a bit of a mess + the majority of RNC members are contractually incapable of beating off anyone or anything.)

In closing:


The day your ended your candidacy for President of the United States, my world got a little blacker.

I think I speak for everyone short of Sharon Bialek when I say that I miss you.

I miss you a lot.

To the only guy in the history of American politics to quote Pokemon with a reverence usually reserved for MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech…

Godspeed Herman Cain.

Wherever you are, whoever you're in... Godspeed.

By Ryan + Aron, for the

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Depression Era Comics: The Internet’s Most Literal Depression Comic # 3

A quote for Depression era comic # 3…

“Nothing spoils the taste of peanut butter like unrequited love.”

-Charlie Brown.

I think the quoting may become a thing.

By Ryan.

Jon Huntsman 2012: The Conservative Liberal who is also Mormon

Liberal Conservative Mormon Jon Huntsman dropped out of the 2012 race months ago, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate his candidacy.

For moderate Californians (once again ignored by the Republican establishment!), I think the greatest regret of the 2012 primaries has to be the ease with which Jon Huntsman was dismissed. How little we got to know him…

Lament this, for there was more to Jon Huntsman than his relatively moderate take on the issues (a moderate take perhaps overstated, as his tax plan was as “ambitious” as any).

Rather, there was more to Jon Huntsman in that it seems the ex-governor of Utah was also, quite publicly, nice. From the outside, it even appeared as though he aimed to treat the political forum with some degree of reverence and professionalism.

Obviously the public was hungry for that, and had “margin for error” not been in the race he might have finished higher in the polls.

Regardless, though this literature was meant to be posted months ago (again, the lawsuit) …let’s get to know Jon Huntsman anyway.

When 2016 rolls around…at least we’ll have something with which to commemorate his run in 2012.

By Ryan + Aron, for

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Depression Era Comics: The Internet's Most Literal Depression Comic # 2

A second note re: the Depression era comics...
These were not drawn during the actual Depression. (The great one.)

Some of them were drawn during an actual depression.

It's since been rectified with Effexor/banana chocolate chip cake.

By Ryan.

Rick Perry 2012: Governor’s Campaign Posters have finally arrived!

Rick Perry's 2012 campaign posters are finally in stock!

Governor Rick Perry may have suspended his campaign in January, but I’m hoping I can still sell a few of these to the wayward Texans who have been as of yet unable to procure the right bumper sticker.

Now, full disclosure: I wanted to write something insightful here, but I haven’t followed Rick Perry since January. I tried to do a little research and the best I could find was that during the early debates, RP might have acted inappropriately (no homo) toward a rival campaign manager in a men’s room.

I guess that's funny and interesting.

In researching his Twitter feed, I was able to discern that he is both working toward rehabilitating his image by posing with adorable animals and married to a high school football team.

It’s been working on both accounts (Rick’s now at 138,000 followers + it's legal to marry a football in Texas) and the dog’s since been shot. (For sport — not because it was black.)


To the reader: I really don’t want this to be an exclusively liberal blog politically…but I also want to maintain the right to call out those that I think are disingenuous and thereby make myself feel ingenuous.

So let’s close with this…

It’s possible Rick Perry is less of an idiot and more of an antiquated relic of old America. Which, granted, looks like an idiot when set in present day America, but hey, what can you do…

Okay, I'm off to drive my Prius. Conservative readers: I’ll draw more sports pictures soon.


Ryan M. Braun, Professor of Political Science at the CenterforAmericanProgressIllustrated.

ps- If you wish to follow Rick Perry on Twitter, here is his account.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bane Capital: The Dark Knight Rises supports Mitt Romney

Bane, Bain Capital, and The Dark Knight Rises’ Mitt Romney problem…

The most notable member of the world’s leading private, alternative asset management firm has an image problem, and I’d suggest to his campaign that it’s all about perception.

Mitt Romney worked for a Bain enterprise that dissembled vulnerable companies for profit, but he also worked for a Bain enterprise whose timely investments saved Dominos, Dunkin’ Donuts and the Burlington Coat Factory — the latter of which supplied Bane’s wardrobe in The Dark Knight Rises, thereby scoring Mitt a massive political boon in the form of a role in the upcoming blockbuster (“Sinister Accountant” for The League of Shadows).

In short, informed advisor that I am, my advice to Mitt Romney would be as follows…

Mitt —

Make yourself more than just a man by devoting yourself to an ideal.

Because then… you become something else entirely.

A legend, Mr. Romney.

A legend.

(Feel free to use that in your campaign.)

By Ryan, for

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Depression Era Comics: The Internet's Most Literal Depression Comic

A single note re: the Depression era comics...
I'd like one Mrs. Marianne Rowan-Braun to know that I'm actually quite happy and am just experimenting.

This is not a call for help.

It may be a call for banana chocolate chip cake.

That is all.

By Ryan.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rick Santorum on Abortion and the Gay Fetus Conundrum:

Gay abortion Rick Santorum’s gateway drug?

My thoughts on Rick Santorum are many, and I hope that espousing a few of them won’t permanently destroy my standing in Ohio.

I am not a hater.

Clearly, Rick Santorum is a man of conviction (although, semi-amazingly, he was at one time pro-choice), and clearly, Rick Santorum is a man whose convictions seem to stem from both the Bible and the Constitution.

Which — the latter intersection of philosophies — presents an interesting conundrum:

Which book is more important to Rick Santorum?

More specifically, which writing/value-set should be considered more important when evaluating the character of a presidential candidate?

Let me throw a hypothetical at you…

If a mythical being (obv. not God) offered Santorum the opportunity to fix the American economy once and for all by having a night full of anal sex, would he be morally incapable of accepting?

If we’re being honest, I think a serious candidate would have to accept.

And that’s the question I’d ask Rick Santorum if I had the platform.

That's the question I'd ask any of the candidates.

If presented with the chance to restore American greatness — however that might look to you — via the relatively simple formality of, let’s say, 20-minutes of anal sex with another man (who of course would be gentle, attentive and understanding of your situation)…would you do it, Mr. Santorum/anonymous-other-candidate?

And if the answer I got back was that the perceived word of God comes before a chance to help the country…then that’s probably why the perceived word of God should never influence the in-need-of-help-country’s policies.


I think so.

Okay, that’s it for the Santorum post.

And so ends the first cogent blend of economic principle and sodomy.


A half-Jew

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dear Dwight Howard, a response to Marc Stein’s Weekend Dime from Ryan Braun:

The ol' Dear Dwight Howard piece from Ryan Braun to Marc Stein/Dwight Howard is next on the revitalization tour...and it's perhaps particularly applicable with the trade deadline fast approaching.

From Cavs: the, forever ago...


Hi Dwight:

Let me begin with a preface — if you choose to stay in Orlando, I get it. In fact, as a basketball fan with what I’d like to consider at least a semi-operative conscience, I would have to consider that preferable. I mean, how could anyone in Cleveland ever root for a superstar to leave a small market, right?

Dear Shaquille O'Neal's lawyers: please direct all complaint/legal inquiries to

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…let’s go ahead and acknowledge your leaving as an inevitability. For the sake of both this article and the potentially delusional presumptions therein. Also, because you kind of reaffirmed the anti-Orlando sentiment with your “nothing has changed” quote relayed via the Sentinel last Sunday.

You still want to be traded, you say, and Dallas, LA, and the Nets are still your preferred destinations.

That’s fine. No judgment here. You’re a 26-year-old man/the heart wants what the heart wants.

But please, allow me the opportunity to pass on a message that my mom gave to me (in writing) when I suggested to her I might major in acting:

“Are you sure you’ve thought this through?”

Now, if you’re reading this (and I soooo hope it gets to you…), you’re probably reading it on a Cavs blog and thus have subsequently assumed where it’s headed.

Don’t stop reading.

I know you’ve already said (with just about zero ambiguity) that you’d rather not be traded to Cleveland.

That’s perfect! I don’t want you traded to Cleveland either.

I want you to sign there.

Trust me, I have definitely thought this through.

Reason # 1 — The Trade Thing is so 2008…

Allow me to open, Dwight, by directing your attention to exhibit A (and/or “Reason #1”)…the trade thing.

It’s en vogue right now, I know, and I’m even a little hypocritical for shunning it as definitively as I’m about to since a year and a half ago I was staying up nights at a time monitoring the Cavs’ progress in luring Amar’e Stoudemire away from Phoenix.

As I often am, I was misguided. (The acting major’s yet to pan out.)

I was misguided, as are many still, because lost in the league-encompassing excitement of a landscape shifting trade is a patently obvious nugget (or rather Knick) of information regarding these cataclysms…

Take a look at all of the teams for which these deals have gone down in recent seasons.

None of them are winning.

None of them.

In fact, they’re not even close.

New York, New Jersey, the Clippers… not exactly the elite of the league, right? Perhaps even more damning is this… Are these teams even in a position to improve?

The Boston Celtics (the reason this whole “movement” started) are the only team of the modern era that was built via trade, and the only reason it worked (temporarily) was that each (aging) star was sold for pennies on the dollar, thereby allowing the Celtics to retain two players — Rondo and Perkins — who turned out to be better than anyone they’d shipped out. It was enormously lucky in the first place, and any chance of that particular history repeating with these “forced” trades is effectively wiped because A) the motivation behind the F-trades is often a player seeking a specific market/not a team sniffing out a palatable return, and B) everyone involved is a lot less willing to work out an amenable deal when they feel like they’re being jerked around.

So, let the record show us having the following two epiphanies:

1. In today’s NBA, you can still get yourself traded…but you can’t get yourself traded without gutting the team that you’re headed to, thereby nullifying the chance you’re headed to a better situation basketball-wise.

2. Because of this (epiphany 1), if you’re going to go…free agency is the way to go.

I don’t like that last epiphany as a Cavs fan (I wish the new CBA had come equipped with a franchise tag…), but it’s true. If you’re signing a 5-year extension with a team that’s just traded its best young prospect + multiple first-rounders, rarely will that team still have the means to surround you with talent.

Of the “cataclysm teams,” the Heat are the only group I’d list with even a chance to win a title within the next few years, and it’s because they came together through free agency.

I'm the hater lion.

However awful that was.

Regardless, the point of exhibit A (and/or “Reason # 1”), Dwight?

If you don’t want to get stuck on a bare cupboard of a team subsequently plastered with unreasonable post-trade expectations…you might want to reconsider your route.

Sign with somebody in the offseason.

If only someone had concocted an elaborate yet grounded presentation to give your options via that route some clarity…

Reason # 2 — The Cavs from a Basketball Perspective:

This was the most enjoyable segment for me to write, and I’m 99% sure the reason for that is a legitimate belief in the following… (I’m so good an actor now, I can never be 100% sure I’m not fooling myself…)

The Cavs are on the verge of being really, really good.

Not this year, mind you…but soon. (And very soon if you heed my letter, DH.)

If Oklahoma City is the model for small-market rebuilding (Durant, Westbrook, Harden — add water), we’re one elite draft pick away from following suit. Through a stroke of remarkable good fortune (and by “good fortune,” I mean $30 million from Dan Gilbert), the Cavs were able to restock this year with both Tristan Thompson (who I pray to the basketball gods will be a smart Josh Smith) and Kyrie Irving (who I pray to the basketball gods will be a healthy Chris Paul). They’re 20 and 19, respectively. Provided they don’t propel us too far forward before their bodies fill out (and it might be close), we’ll probably end up landing one additional high lottery pick this year. Which again, provided these guys pan out, is the Thunder model. A potentially elite foundation.

And the rest of the roster?

That’s where things get really interesting.

In fact, to show just how interesting… I’d like to welcome the Dallas Mavericks to the article. Being the only team on your trade list with considerable cap space forthcoming, they seem to have become the assumed favorites to land your services via the free market.

Found this picture on Mark Cuban's nightstand...

Let’s say Dallas hits the jackpot this summer (that would be you and Deron Williams), thereby amassing what would probably be considered the second true “super-team” in the league. My grandma would be happy (she went to high school with Jason Kidd), but that’s not what this article’s about.

What is best for you, Dwight?

The following is the absolute best case scenario 2012-13 Dallas lineup, in which I assume the Mavs’ ability to dump Shawn Marion by the trade deadline (which is the only way they’d have enough cap space to sign both you and Deron):

PG – Deron Williams (28), Jason Kidd (39!), Roddy Beaubois (24)

SG – Vince Carter (35), Jason Terry (35), Delonte West (29), Dominque Jones (24)

SF – Shawn Marion (34) ( presumptive salary dump)

PF – Dirk Nowitzki (34), Lamar Odom (32), Brian Cardinal (35), Yi Jianlian (25), Sean Williams (26), Brandan Wright (25)

C – Dwight Howard (26), Brendan Haywood (32), Ian Mahinmi (25)

Dallas has $41.4 million on the books for 2012-13, again, predicated solely on their ability to let everyone italicized leave and/or pass away from age-related illness. With the salary cap projected at around $60-61 million next year, it’ll take a suitor for Shawn Marion’s $8.6 million guaranteed, plus ALL of their resulting free-agent money to sign you and Deron Williams.

Thus, this would be your team for the foreseeable future — exactly as listed above, minus Shawn Marion/plus league minimum filler. (And Dirk is 34, Deron Williams can’t stay healthy, yada, yada, yada…)

Now, contrast that with Cleveland’s potential 2012-13 lineup:

PG – Kyrie Irving (20), Ramon Sessions (26)

SG – Anthony Parker (306), Boobie Gibson (26), Mychel Thompson (24)

SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (19), Alonzo Gee (25), Omri Casspi (24), Christian Eyenga (23)

PF – Tristan Thompson (21), Antawn Jamison (35), Samardo Samuels (23), Luke Harangody (24)

C – Dwight Howard (26), Anderson Varejao (30), Semih Erden (26), Ryan Hollins (28)

There’s just under $41 million on the books here (only $9 million in 2013-14!) with all the notable pillars locked up. That means Kyrie, Tristan and Andy (seriously, you’ll love this guy…), plus “unnamed 2012 lottery pick,” plus Dan Gilbert’s willingness to lock-up our keepers for the long-term (Sessions and Boobie, perhaps?) or swing them as the rarest of expiring contracts (those belonging to good players) for dollars on the dollar.

The point of all this being, in Cleveland, you’re looking at a team with potentially four All-NBA caliber players, a team with insane roster flexibility, and a team with an owner more willing to dole out cash than Pacman Jones at 2am.

Also, a team that has no true center.

From a basketball perspective, only Chicago makes more sense (why they’re not on your trade list, I have no idea…), and even then, only in the immediate.

From a basketball perspective, it’s the perfect situation.

And, while I realize much of the preceding’s accuracy depends on your evaluations of the players involved — i.e. How good are the young Cavs, really? — I’d like you to know this: Because of my briefly aforementioned conscience/an overwhelming fear of failure stemming perhaps from graduating college with an acting degree, publishing on an ESPN subsidiary at least forces me to temper my enthusiasm for all things Cleveland somewhat in the hope that I can write reasonably informative articles/maintain my current state of employment. For periods of time, I can be a semi-responsible faux-journalist.

Along those lines…

Kyrie Irving, while just 19, might be the best pick-and-roll prospect to enter the league since you, Dwight Howard (pandering just a touch there…). I don’t believe I’m overstating that. KI comes off the screen at such a funky pace that he can almost walk a guy right to the rim, and he’s already exceedingly comfortable with his midrange jumper. This was a major strength at Duke, and he’s been re-getting the hang of it pretty early at the NBA level. And Dwight, what Kyrie’s doing now, he’s doing while working with Andy Varejao (who, again, you’re going to love and is actually a remarkably effective P&R partner…but also operates about 3-4 feet lower than you do). Remember when everyone thought it would be awesome to team you up with Chris Paul? Well, I’m thinking of something similar but with healthier knees. Kyrie is good, and by this time next year, Kyrie’s going to be better.

And Kidd-Gilchrist (listed above on my projected roster) is a conservative addition. He could be Brad Beal, he could be Harrison Barnes. I like MKG because he was Kyrie’s teammate in high school and is tenacious enough to have a relatively high floor…but he’s also probably the 7thpick in the upcoming draft. Imagine if that’s Anthony Davis. Imagine if it’s Drummond.

Regardless Dwight, you’re getting the Cavs’ foundation as is, plus either a top-tier wing prospect or the best big in the draft. And the oodles of cap space.

Imagine you’d had an opportunity to head to OKC right after they landed James Harden.

Would you have done it?

Really, the only possible reason this isn’t a no-brainer is that you’d have to live in Cleveland, which, don’t worry…I’ve figured out too.

Reason # 2B — Cleveland is a burgeoning entertainment mecca/end of hardcore analysis:

I know you have media ambitions, Dwight.

You know who else had media ambitions?

Steven Spielberg. (Ever heard of him?)


Yes D-12, Steven Spielberg was born in Ohio, and you won’t find someone who’s made good on “media ambitions” more successfully than him.

Need more?

Paul Newman’s from the area as well, Ohio is the country’s leading producer of greenhouse and nursery plants, and if you’re concerned about unwanted pregnancy — we’re the rubber capital of the world.

(Ed. Note: This is harder than the basketball section. I’ve been digging around for like an hour and that was the best I could do.)

Let’s close the “Cleveland as entertainment mecca” section with the following…

Consider A: Cleveland was a bustling metropolis in the 50s and 60s (even the Rockefellers lived there!).


Consider B: There are two schools of thought re: the nature of the world’s social history. Ancient cultures believed in cyclical nature (that Dark and Golden Ages would forever alternate), while more recent sentiment assumes the world is on a linear path.

So, if we deduce the actuality as a perfectly reasonable combination of theories — after all, history is linear in that technology is advancing more rapidly than human nature, but cyclical in that I’m wearing my grandfather’s polyester pants right now and feeling particularly stylish — the conclusion would have to be that by the end of your 5-year max contract, Cleveland will again be an Eden on Earth…only with robots.

Okay, done.

Ps- You can’t spell “The Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg” without OHIO.

Now done.

Reason 3a — The Cavalier bump:

The theory goes that being in Cleveland helps promote athlete likeability (ATTN: Adidas: AL is very important for market share capitalization), and I constructed the following chart to demonstrate it visually.

I'm not very good at charts.

So. Definitively established. Cleveland = likeability.

ATTN: Adidas.

Reason 3b — How better to one-up LeBron?

Okay, it’s 1AM now and I want to close with some semblance of legitimacy.

Here goes…

You don’t have to admit to this, Dwight…but I know. Truth be told, I think a lot of people do…

We here in Cleveland have always felt the lack of a Dwight puppet egregious.

The LeBron James show, which debuted a year before you entered the league and has subsequently amassed the gravitational pull of an imploding galaxy, has kind of relegated you to the backburner in terms of the national consciousness.

I’m writing to you on behalf of Cleveland (as a city, I think we can sympathize).

I began by laying out all the basketball reasons that the Cavaliers make sense…and now here is the vindictive one.

You want to pull ahead of LeBron James, and we want that for you…but to do it, you have to start heading in the opposite direction.

If you go to Dallas, to LA, and maybe even in Chicago (although again, if you want to be traded, reconsider the Bulls…), you will forever be lumped in with LeBron. And as much as it probably sucks to hear, and as much as you may consider it unjustified…you’ll never be at the forefront of things when you’re standing right next to him. You’ll always be a supporting character in the LeBron James drama.

So take an alternate path.

Be the small-market superstar.

Make a small-market super-team.

I realize it’s self-serving (hugely) that I want the small-market super-team in Cleveland…but honestly, I’d support the idea anywhere.

You’re not going to outscore LeBron James.

So outsmart him. Call Adidas and tell them we have a banner open.

Also, I’ll draw you pictures.

Again, letters to

The World is Yours.


Ryan Braun (CFAAP, Cavs: the Blog, Studio Yogurt)

Ps- Dwight, the Browns are going to be awesome next year.


AWARDS WATCH (16.5% of the way through the season):

NBA MVP – Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder (25.8 ppg, 6.8 reb, 3.4 ast). Kobe is scoring like he hasn’t in 6 years, but I can’t say it’s helping the Lakers. LeBron is playing better than anyone in the league, but the Heat have lost 3 in a row. Meanwhile, the Thunder are 11-2 and Durant is just plugging along, shooting less and scoring more efficiently than he ever has.

CAVALIER MVP – Andy Varejao, PF/C (9.5 ppg, 11.2 reb, 1.5 ast). Kyrie’s not far off from having a chance at this spot, but to date, still, there’s not a player on the Cavs more important than Anderson Varejao. He’s consistent, the perfect role-model for a lot of the younger guys on the team, and almost as much of a pillar offensively as he is on the other side of the ball. I’d put Andy’s pick & roll competency up there with many of the elite bigs in the league.

NBA COY– Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose’s team is 12-2 (tied for the best record in the league), and Thibodeau has, in my estimation, done very well to proactively extend support to a struggling Noah and Boozer (and/or protect their trade value). I thought they overachieved last year, but the Bulls seem to be locking themselves in as a perennial top seed.

CAVALIER COY – Byron Scott. Really, a competitor’s yet to emerge.

NBA ROY – Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers (17.0 ppg, 3.1 reb, 5 ast). Ricky’s coming on strong too (and each side seems to have its fervent advocates), but after watching Kyrie improve the past couple of weeks…I’m f’ing giddy. The kid can get to the rim at will, IS getting progressively more comfortable with NBA length, and looks more and more confident in his ability to dictate the flow of a game every time out. Rubio is at 10.4, 4.1, and 8.0 while playing a completely different floor game for a completely different team…which is what I’ve used to decide this argument for the week. The team. At current, I think Rubio struggles more on the Cavs than Kyrie does in Minnesota.

CAVALIER ROY – Kyrie Irving, PG. But let’s talk about the other guy… As a 21-year-old sophomore NBAer (essentially Tristan Thompson’s age, but with a year more experience), Josh Smith averaged 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in about 32 minutes a game. Tristan can’t handle the ball like Josh (not a good thing), nor can he shoot like him (maybe a good thing?), but the point I’m trying to make is that he’s not far off and I have to believe he’s being steeped in the type of discipline that Josh Smith never was. In four years, TT’s an energy guy or an All-Star, and his development might well determine the ceiling of this team.