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: 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.
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 (PimpMyForces.com) 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.
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