As the Cleveland Cavaliers flew back to Oakland to prepare for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, much consternation was to be had as the city of Cleveland was being traipsed trough the mud by folks with a larger, more national platform. A hypersensitive fan base, one whose genesis was the recent subject of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, found itself in defense mode (once again) when long-time L.A. scribe J.A. Adande attempted to portray one fan as representation of the entire fan base. The scene took place late in Game 4 on Friday night when a shirtless man with "Trump Sucks" scribbled on his chest stormed the floor only to be tackled by Quicken Loans Arena security.
Given that Cleveland, specifically the Cavs, have a history of fans on the court, the immediate reaction was one of "Here we go again." Adande, in the moment, had no idea that the man who rushed the floor has a history of doing this at large events. A "YouTube personality" (which is like a "Twitter personality" but with actual content creation), the 24-year-old is a self-proclaimed prankster who gets arrested all the freaking time and was actually from California is decidedly neither a fan nor a Cleveland fan. So rather than realizing his mistake and coming back toward center a bit, Adande decided to double down with some straw man trope about the Cleveland Indians' logo.
Naturally, as over-sensitive Cleveland fans are wont to do, Adande's mentions blew up like Chernobyl. The Cavaliers were seeing what was an eight-point lead evaporate into a double-digit deficit, and here was a national writer attempting to define them by the actions of one, and Adande was merely adding fuel to the fire. The Chief Wahoo thing (which, at last glance, was not the product of some weird fan vote) was a bit of a weird turn. One can only assume the ESPN columnist realized this and quickly reverted back to the game of basketball with another attempted blow to the city.
So, if you're keeping score, that the city of Cleveland has one global superstar among its three professional sports teams (a player who just so happens to be from this very region), this means that fans are not allowed to say that a weird, Russian YouTube guy is not representative of the city as a whole.
The whole thing is incredibly unfortunate as Adande is supremely talented and there are countless lunatics from the city of Cleveland who piled into his mentions making things even worse. If you watched Believeland, you likely came away thinking that the fan base was being spoken for by a radio host who doesn't attend games and his partner who is actually from Denver. If you listen to sports talk radio, you come away thinking that the city is represented by single-syllable named males from the suburbs—Dan in Bedrod, Tom in Elyria, Ron in Medina. If you attended Game 4, however, and saw the fans—families, friends—outside of the arena during Fan Fest or the 20,000-plus who were in the arena, you could take any sort of cross section, and you'd undoubtedly come away with fans of various levels of sanity and understanding of what not to say (or tweet) at strangers, but all of whom have one underlying, cohesive trait in their passion for their city and their team.
So while we will never have a single representative of the city of Cleveland, what we can all agree on is that it's not ESPN, nor Chief Wahoo, nor that guy. If given a re-do, I would assume Adande would've avoided this rabbit hole all together. Here's to getting a Game 6 to right the ship—this, of course, assuming it needs to be righted at all.
Great stuff on Draymond Green here from Shoals over at GQ.com:
It’s hard to reconcile Draymond Green. He’s the quintessential scrappy, do-whatever-it-takes role guy, but he’s also one of the most skilled players in the league. He’s everywhere at once on the floor, but he’d never be mistaken for a futuristic, position-less freak. He’s both a triumphant underdog and the face of the Warriors’ perceived arrogance.
For WFNY's discussion on the recently suspended Green, head here.
While we've witnessed the recent launch of "The Undefeated" and Bill Simmons' "The Ringer," what has quietly gone largely unmentioned is ESPN's launch of "Doubtletruck," their new home for narrative journalism. It's not a project or new site as much as it is a place where ESPN will house their terrific storytelling, much of which has been linked here over the last several years. Ramona Shelburne on Ronda Rousey, Wright Thompson on TIger, DVN and Seth Wickersham on Deflategate...It's all there.
Writing nerds will want to check out the sidebar where Don Van Natta answers some questions about writing, and Seth Wickersham discusses the importance of where one writes. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention this podcast with Thompson wherein he discusses his story on Woods.
Here's this week's edition of #ActualSportswriting:
"A pair of kings and a Trump" by Ramona Shelburne (ESPN The Magazine): "They are not at all alike, these two men. LeBron is a 6-foot-8, 250-pound athletic phenomenon. Gilbert is 5-6ish with a Napoleon complex. LeBron is nonconfrontational and famously passive-aggressive. And 'I'm just aggressive-aggressive,' Gilbert says with a laugh." 1
"Muhammad Ali's wide influence as the world says goodbye" by Charles P. Pierce (Sports Illustrated): "The sweep of a person’s life can be measured by many things. For example, if it is the weekend of your funeral, and a person wandering through the lobby of a hotel like the Brown here sees Kris Kristofferson being introduced to the president of Turkey, chances are you’ve touched people from many lands and from many walks of life." 2
"The Big Interview: Marshawn Lynch" by L. Jon Wertheim (Sports Illustrated): "If you think bringing Marshawn Lynch to the ground was a challenge, try getting on his calendar. The recently retired Seahawks running back (more on that later) agreed to talk during a tour of his hometown of Oakland—a serious achievement, given his arm’s-length relationship with the media—but then there was the matter of settling on a date. Since his exit announcement, slyly dropped during the Super Bowl, the five-time Pro Bowler has traveled to Haiti, Canada and Egypt, where he led a football camp, rode a camel and toured the Great Pyramid of Giza. A stealth visit to Flint, Mich.—he wanted to volunteer and lend solidarity to the citizenry—was postponed until later this summer; he appeared that week instead at a Clinton Global Initiative function in Oakland." 3
And lastly, really well-done hub of sorts of all of the New York Times' stories on Muhammad Ali. 4
And finally: New Kanye alert. With GOOD Music's "Cruel Winter" project coming to fruition, West released "Champions," a five-plus-minute track that features names like Big Sean and 2 Chainz.
Have a great Monday, you guys. 9 p.m. tip tonight. Let's go.
1 We discussed this piece here, but it's worth reiterating again as the larger story is much bigger than not drafting Draymond Green. Spoke with Ramona following the publication of this story, and as you can imagine in any scenario involving being on Dan Gilbert's private jet, plenty was left on the cutting room floor.
2 The second week in a row for Charlie Pierce on Ali. He's an automatic read. That he was on location is all the better.
3 Some #ASW mixed with a larger, multimedia arm. Perfect balance of words and well-edited and well-produced video content.
4 A bit of a curveball for #ASW but I'm always a fan of sites having several different well-written stories on the same topic