With the first big holiday of the 2005 Holiday Season, Thanksgiving Day, it is time to reflect on what the Cleveland sports fan has to be thankful for. As you know, I am not a believer in the sports curse, or Kenny Roda’s whining "OIC (Only in Cleveland)" mentality that Phil Savage denounced when hired here. There are plenty of things we fans can be appreciative of on this day of thanks.
1). LeBron James: How lucky are we to watch James play on a nightly basis? The soon to be 21 year old might be the best player in the NBA right now! He is the best athlete to play in Cleveland since Jim Brown in the late fifties/early sixties.
2). Daniel Gilbert: He came in with blazing guns after buying the team, but since he has remained in the background and hired the right people to run the Cavaliers. Mike Brown stresses defense, but remains flexible enough to be coaching one of the highest scoring teams in the NBA. Danny Ferry signed Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, and Damon Jones who seem to be perfect fits with this team.
3). Mark Shapiro: The Indians GM called his shot in 2001, saying the Tribe would return to contender status in 2005. They did, and he was awarded with Executive of the Year honors. No one does more with a small payroll than Shapiro. Hopefully, Larry Dolan will open the coffers a bit for 2006.
4). Phil Savage/Romeo Crennel: If you think I am very optimistic about the Cleveland professional sports scene, I am due to the people in place running the franchises. Savage is the best talent evaluator the Browns have had since Ernie Accorsi was running things in the mid 1980’s. Crennel is a breath of fresh air after the constant spinning by Butch Davis. That these Browns have already won four games this year is a tribute to these two men. Most felt four wins for the entire season would be good for the Cleveland football team.
5). The young Tribesmen: How many major league teams have so many good players under the age of 30? The Indians have Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Grady Sizemore, Jhonny Peralta, C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Coco Crisp. The Indians should be contenders for the post season for the next three or four years at least.
6). Larry Hughes: The perfect complement to LeBron James, Danny Ferry passed on shooters like Ray Allen and Michael Redd to get the best all around guard available in free agency. In the last five games, Hughes has shown that he is the total package, scoring, rebounding, passing, and playing stellar defense.
7). Les Levine: More Sports and Les Levine on Adelphia Channel 15 is a must view for fans wanting the inside scoop. The long time sports talker brings sportswriters to TV with his Plain Dealer Roundtable on Monday, and frequent guests like Terry Pluto, Sheldon Ocker, Brian Windhorst, and Jim Ingraham.
No woe is us here. The future of sports on the North Coast is bright thanks in part to the people mentioned here. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!