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As gloriously predicted in this space yesterday, and as ominously foreshadowed in this space early in the week, it's gonna be Wiz-Cleveland in the first round. About 49 plusses and minuses to this development came spilling out of my soul last night. I figured I'd wait 'til the morning, but then I struggled to wake up this morning, so this is kinda late. Anyhow, here are the plusses and minuses.

Plus: I can instigate a blog war with Cavs person Yay!Sports, and with Cavs scribe and master blogger Brian Windhorst.

Minus: Plans to actually meet The Basketball Jones (Toronto) or FreeDarko (Chicago) were crushed.

Shoes from a Cleveland store the Wizards love.

Plus: Possible Usher sightings. During last year's series, I was actually in a shopping mall at the same time as Usher, but I didn't realize it. I saw a mob of kids going nuts, and I thought there was a fight or something. Of course, I ran over there, but by then I was too late. All that was left behind was a crowd of squealing teens.

Minus: I won't get to interview those crazy Raptors people with their crazy t-shirts. Like, check this one out. Amazing.

Plus: I called it. This should make me look smart. For the record, I told Comcast SportsyNet producer Adam Littlefield and Wiz game day ace Dolph Sand I had a feeling it would be Cleveland around 6:45 pm on Tuesday.

Minus: No one cares. I got a total of one text message and zero e-mails last night, congratulating me for my freaky NBA wisdom.

Plus: Of the four possibilities, I think it's the best matchup for the Wiz. Others disagree. But they already played, minus Butler and Jamison, and the Wiz were right there. Easily could have won that game. Probably should have. And if there's leftover karma from last year, it's definitely owed to Washington. Aside from LeBron, who really scares you here? I'd be surprised if the Wiz don't get at least one game in this series, and I wouldn't have said that about any of the other possible opponents.

Minus: It doesn't really matter.

Plus: I had one of the more magical moments of my journalism career during last year's series. Famous columnist Mike Wise and I were jogging along Lake Erie, when his cell phone rang. He was informed that his offer to buy a house in D.C. had been accepted. It wasn't exactly a sweaty embrace, but we definitely rejoiced. We even stopped other, random joggers to tell them the news. Journalistic magic. I'm telling you.

Minus: Magic like that can't be recreated.

Plus: Anderson Varejao's hair.

Minus: I already have written for the Washington Post on Anderson Varejao's hair. The text:

Anderson Varejao was asked by a follically challenged reporter whether his Sideshow Anderson hairstyle is the best in the playoffs.

"In the world," he replied.

"His mom's hair looks like that and he's trying to look like her," explained forward Luke Jackson, while Sideshow Anderson attempted to point out that Jackson has never even seen his mother.

Plus: There's an incredible sneaker boutique in downtown Cleveland. At least, there was last year. That's where I almost saw Usher. Many of the Wizards have gone to that sneaker boutique.

Andray Blatche's shoes, which came from Cleveland.

The shoes Andray Blatche was showing off in the locker room this week? That's where they came from. Here's what I wrote last year:

A near riot of squealing girls broke out at Cleveland's Tower City Center yesterday afternoon when Cavs part-owner and R&B star Usher showed up to buy sneakers.

We understand Abe Pollin faces the same problem whenever he shops at Florsheim.

Anyhow, we arrived on the scene seconds after Usher departed Unlocked, a high-end sneaker boutique in the downtown mall. This Pollin wannabe had picked up a custom-made pair of LeBron James Nike sneaks, onto which had been painted James's image from the "We Are All Witnesses" advertising campaign. Approximate asking price for the one-of-a-kind footwear? Somewhere north of a G.

More importantly, it turns out Team Wizard has also discovered Unlocked. Andray Blatche wandered into the store late in the regular season, briefly left, and then returned to order three pairs of shoes. He came back the next day and ordered three more, with his purchases including an homage to the Wizards, an homage to the New York Yankees, an homage to Nestle Crunch candy bars and an homage to M&M's, complete with the phrase "Melts in your mouth, not in your hands."

"It draws a lot of attention," Blatche said. "You can create something that nobody else can have, so it's basically a priceless shoe."

By this point, nearly all of the Wizards' Largely Inconsequential But Unfailingly Polite Six have visited the store. Billy Thomas custom-ordered a Kansas Jayhawks model. Awvee Storey and Donell Taylor have stopped by. Peter John Ramos is considering a salute to the Puerto Rican flag. Portland Trail Blazers guard Sebastian Telfair is also a customer, having ordered a pair of white Adidas low-tops custom-painted with green dollar signs, and a matching dollar-signed hooded sweatshirt....

Rumor has it Pollin is considering a pair of one-of-a-kind candy-inspired kicks, possibly featuring Mallo Cups.

Minus: I've already written about it. Plus, the store's Web site I linked to last year ( is down. Maybe the store is no more.

Plus: You can take a train from the Cleveland airport right downtown. It's a pretty cheap flight on Southwest, which is good because my travel budget is limited. I know of a Panera pretty close to the arena, so I can make like Barry Svrluga, who has a Panera fixation. I know where the arena's media entrance is, from past experience. All will be comfy and familiar.

Minus: I'm telling you, I've used all the quirky material there is to use from this series. Plus, it's Cleveland.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 19, 2007; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Ummmm, Cal Booth


Could be worse. Could be Detroit. Or Pittsburgh. Or Buffalo. Cleveland would be missed. I'm not sure I could say the same about the other three.

Posted by: TG | April 19, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Check out Tommy's in Coventry Village. Great sandwiches, nice vibe, terrific used bookstore next door. You can take the train to University Circle and shuttle from there on the circulator.

Posted by: fasolamatt | April 19, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I hope our friends over at YaySports start writing again now that the playoffs have arrived.

Posted by: John Taylor | April 19, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

7 hour drive to Cleveland agent Steinz. This is the Bog road trip we have been waiting for. The material would be endless.

Posted by: Redonkulous Linker | April 19, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Plus: Compare-
Eric Snow: Average PG as Nats: Average NL team

Posted by: CreditZard | April 19, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Usher came to Columbia Mall (where I worked at the time) once, and I saw the same thing. Usher (who is tiny), bodyguards, and a giant mass of screaming fans following him wherever he went. Doesn't he have guys that can buy his size eight shoes for him?

On a related note, the Columbia Mall is a haven for athletes. Just by growing up around there has resulted in me seeing Carmelo Anthony, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, and numerous MD basketball players getting some shopping done.

Posted by: R.L. | April 19, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Agent Steinz, oh yee of little faith. "Minus: I'm telling you, I've used all the quirky material there is to use from this series. Plus, it's Cleveland."

Can we talk?

First of all, in a seedy (read, journalistic) kinda way, LOL, Cleveland is a fun place to have a microbrew.

Second, we're not impressed by the Mike Wise hug. Ivan Carter -- now THAT would be a good match-up. (heh heh)

Third of all, how CAN you say you have used all the quirky material? Have you read Agent Zero's latest bog entries? How he feels as helpless as his newborn because they both can't walk? How about covering the series from Gilbert Arenas' perspective. Let's channel Gilbert on this one. It would go something like this.

Ah, man, we blew the first game of the playoff series. I knew we would. Because when I woke up this morning, the altitude in my room was all wrong. (And it's a room, not a tent, OK? The tent is for road trips and I'm at home right now.) It was Cleveland-level altitude. That made me suspicious right away.

I had a dream for a commercial where we won the playoff game by changing the altitude in Cleveland. There was a teal-colored comfy chair right in the middle of the court. Lebron and everyone spent time relaxing in the chair rather than focussing on the came becaue of the altitude. The commercial was for a new pair of sneakers.

Oh man, my Dad blames me for the loss but I blame him. He's a stubborn guy. Maybe I really am like him. I'm not sure. He is always picking on me. Like he's blaming me that we lost to Cleveland and I wasn't even there!

Jamison was a real leader, even though we lost. I'm not sure what a leader is. Sometimes the faucet in the bathroom off my bedroom makes a funny sound in the middle of the night. But at just the right times -- I find it soothing. Jamison says the right things at the right times. I wonder how he does that. He reminds me of this faucet.

Etc. etc.

And the BEST part is that you don't have to make this stuff up -- you just have to wait for the NBA Blog update.

Oh, and BOSH has a blog!! Gilbert's got that straight -- the guy doesn't talk at all!! -- how can he blog? But I think the BEST news angle is this:

All right, so maybe we're not going to win the playoffs by playing basketball. But would about the BLOG playoffs? GILBERT'S GOT GAME!! What are the Raptors THINKING? That Bosh can step to Gilbert, blog-wise? With apologies to Shaq, our response to that should be: "People who are not Blog superstars should not presume to comment upon the blogging of people who are Blog superstars."

Sure, maybe we'll lose, but we'll have more fun.

Sorry this comment wasn't longer. ;)

Posted by: Nancy | April 19, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

7 hours, huh?

Posted by: littles | April 19, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Google Maps says its only 6 hours from DC. Double True. My car is in for a Bog Caravan. Come on Littles, make it happen.

Posted by: Redonkulous Linker | April 19, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I should be under a plus, not a minus!

Posted by: WGDC- | April 20, 2007 1:14 AM | Report abuse

good luck on winning one against cleveland. high hopes, eh?

Posted by: eric | April 20, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

If you go to John's Little Bar and Grill in the Warehouse District you will see something you've never seen before, probably. I do most times I go. Get a burger or a turkey sandwich.

Posted by: Frank | April 20, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

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