Guest Cast

Better ‘Believeland’ It

Welcome to a new angle here on FillerBuster. My name is Ben Lawrence and I’m one of Mark’s asshole co-workers.  Like most guys, I like to talk, watch, read about everything sports.  Mark and I tend to have some great conversations on our work trips together.  With the exception that he’s a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and I’m diehard Cleveland Browns fan, we get along pretty well.  I’m in several fantasy leagues as well as an avid fan of daily fantasy sports (mostly football).  As you’ve probably guessed, I’m also from Ohio – hence the diehard Cleveland Browns reference.  This brings a completely different perspective on sports/life.  When you’ve gone through some of the bullshit Cleveland fans have gone through, you have a twisted look on the world.  You’ll see some of that the more I contribute here.  I tend to play a very ‘Devil’s Advocate’ stance – especially on Mark’s viewpoints…

 

Today I’d like to spend some time focusing on a new era in Ohio.  And by era, I’m of course referring to the ascension of Cleveland, OH as the new mecca of the sports championship world…  That may seem funny to most, but after 52 years of misery and ‘there’s always next year’, we’re sitting on a current UFC Champion, the American Hockey League Champs (cheesy I know, but in Cleveland you take what you can get), and of course the CLEVELAND CAVALIERS.  The Indians are also contending this season which extends the sports excitement in the region far longer into the summer than normal.  Long story short, Cleveland is finally known for more than just Cedar Point, the Rock and Roll HOF, and the overall shitty attitude most people perceive from the media (that’s another rant for a different day).  This entire shift can be summed up in one word; LeBron.

 

I was a sophomore in college at Kent State University when I heard the name LeBron James for the first time.  I had ESPN on the TV, but wasn’t really paying attention.  It was more background noise for whatever non-school related activity I was doing.  LeBron was a sophomore in high school at this time.  The show on ESPN was highlighting exceptional high school athletes in all sorts of sports.  The first thing that caught my attention was when they mentioned ‘Akron, OH’.  Being Kent State and Akron are so close, this peaked my interest.  I stopped and watched the 5 minute segment and wondered if I’d ever hear more about that local kid down the road.  The next year, Sports Illustrated put him on the cover of their magazine as a junior in high school and argued that he was good enough to be the first pick in the draft (that year).  From there, the LeBron phenomenon exploded…

 

I was there watching when his mom leveraged his upcoming pro contract to lease him a Hummer his senior year of high school.  I was there watching when he signed a $90 Mil deal with NIKE before he graduated high school.  I was there watching when Cleveland landed the first pick in the draft (rigged or not).  I was there watching when the Cavs drafted an 18 year old local kid with the first pick (in what we now know was a loaded draft class).  I was there watching when that kid went on to become rookie of the year.  I was there watching when that same kid had one of the most dominate starts to a career anyone has ever seen.  I was there watching when he left…  I was there watching the Cavs struggle as one of the worst teams in the league because of ‘the decision’.  I was there watching (albeit not very often) when he won 2 titles in Miami that could and should have belonged to Cleveland.  I was there watching when he came home.  And luckily enough, I was on vacation with my family this year (including my 6 year old son) when I watched him bring a title home – as promised.

It’s hard to explain what a sports title means to a true Cleveland fan.  It’s always been more of an illusion or mirage than reality.  That’s what LeBron and the rest of the Cavs have delivered.  A feeling of euphoria that we’re finally on top.  A feeling that we can compete with the rest of the country.  A pride that we’re the ones laughing this time…  We’re finally on the right side of the coin.  It may not last long, but after 52 years of struggle, we’re embracing every minute we can.

I’ll leave you with a few random thoughts regarding LeBron and the Cavs.

  • LeBron has already been to more finals (7) than MJ (6). Given, he’s not 6-0, but he’s still got more to come…
  • Kyrie Irving went from possibly being traded (with a Game 5 loss) to hitting the biggest shot in Cleveland sports history in game 7. That shot solidified his career in Cleveland.
  • While Kevin Love didn’t dominate in the finals, his 14 rebounds in Game 7 was the difference in the game…Period.
  • R. Smith is that guy people love to hate (unless he’s on your team). Even then, you better hope he’s hitting his shots…
  • While we didn’t get the likes of Kevin Durant this offseason, Mike Dunleavey and the ‘Birdman’ are going to be HUGE additions coming off the bench next year.
  • As much as I love Delly, he got $40 Mil from the Bucks… I mean, $40 Mil?  I’m pretty sure I can man that guy up.  I’m just saying…
  • While Mozgov didn’t get quite as much, I’m glad he’s going somewhere he’ll get more minutes. A guy I know from college is a great standup comedian in Cleveland (I’ll sprinkle in some of this videos during my rants) and provided this great Mozgov video a couple years ago.  I’ll leave you with this random shit.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTBOYsVOTBY

 

Stay Classy Cleveland!