Random News of the Day: Cleveland, rocked?

Random News of the Day: Cleveland, rocked?

Thursday, July 8, 2010
12:31 PM

By Joe Collins

You have to feel for the city of Cleveland. Have to. First, their river catches fire--thanks to an assist from industrial waste. Then the movie "Howard The Duck" came along (I mean, what could go wrong about an anthropomorphic duck crashing into Cleveland?) You had "The Drive," "The Fumble," and "The Shot." The "Mistake By The Lake" moniker was full speed ahead by this point. The Cleveland Browns were yanked from the city in 1995 and replaced four years later with, ugh, the Browns. You had the gut-wrenching '95 and '97 World Series'. And how's this for painful irony: Mimi Bobeck stuck around the city while everyone of importance left. Rocky Colavito got traded. Jim Thome left. Manny Ramirez left. Carlos Boozer left. In fact, from the 1950s to 2010, the city of Cleveland lost more than half its population, going from over 900,000 to the mid 400,000s.

And Thursday night, they could lose one more.

Granted, LeBron didn't reside within Cleveland's city limits, so I hope you'll just accept that metaphor. Multiple reports have surfaced over the last 12 hours that LeBron James will join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. His official announcement will come later tonight in a nationally televised, hour-long special that already reeks of staged cheesiness. Will LeBron pick from a series of hats like a high school footballer picks a college? Will he tell representatives from New York, New Jersey and Chicago "You're Fired?" Will he walk up to Bosh and Wade and say, "Do you accept this rose?" Even if he settles back into Cleveland, you have to feel for the people of C-Town.

LeBron James is treating Cleveland like a college freshman treats his longtime high school soulmate right around, say, September. After years of loyal courtship, he has broken free from all contractual agreements and is starting to look for other places to have fun. Or at least, there's a sizable buffer zone where it's safe to look around, you know? But since there are so many other fish in the sea, where do you even start looking places to meet people? There's quite a kegger going on right now in New York and New Jersey. Wade and Bosh are throwing a frat party down in Miami. And don't forget the party scene in Chicago--where the pieces are in place to make a serious run at a flip cup championship in no time. It's a tough choice--and maybe you party too much, make a ton of mistakes and you end up regretting everything in the near future. Such is life.

But Cleveland? That's the girl you marry. The one who has supported with you and stuck with you through thick and thin. Isn't there something to be said about loyalty?

If LeBron picks Miami, New York or even Chicago, the sports scene in Cleveland could suffer a groin-kick that is tantamount to what Pittsburgh felt on December 8, 1992. If you recall, the Pirates were a team on the rise and had just lost a riveting NLCS to the Atlanta Braves. Barry Bonds became a free agent after the season and signed with the San Francisco Giants on that fateful December day. Look what's happened to the Pirates ever since: 17 consecutive losing seasons, shoddy attendance numbers and a bitter, frustrated fan base.

At least the city of Pittsburgh had a few Super Bowl champions and the Stanley Cup-winning Penguins to fall back on. But Cleveland? Pssh: a woeful NFL franchise that has lost an average of 11 games per season since '99, a last-place baseball team and no hockey team...period. And now, potentially, a basketball team without one of the biggest drawing cards since Michael Jordan. Chicagoans: every time you see a Cubs or Sox player strike out with the bases loaded in the 9th, or a Bull not play defense, or a Bear fumble on the two-yard line, remember...it could be worse. You could live in Cleveland.

8:00pm could just as well be midnight for the sports scene in The Cleve. If there's ever a time when that city needed Jake Taylor, Roger Dorn, Pedro Cerrano and Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn, now is the time. Cleveland needs some "Major League" inspiration to pull out of this one.

What else does it have left?

Howard The Duck 2, maybe.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

Rookie Denzel Valentine believes he'll play in Bulls' season opener

Rookie Denzel Valentine believes he'll play in Bulls' season opener

Showing no hesitation, Denzel Valentine stood some eight feet behind the 3-point line and launched a triple in Jimmy Butler’s face, then on the next possession, hit a corner triple that ended a contested 3-on-3 game following Bulls practice Wednesday.

He looks ready, sounds ready and most importantly, feels ready for the season opener Thursday night against the Boston Celtics after missing so much time with a right ankle sprain he suffered in the preseason opener well over two weeks ago.

“I think I’m going to suit up,” Valentine said. “Still have to talk to coach about it, but I think I’m going to suit up. I feel great.”

Assuming the Bulls play nine or 10 guys tomorrow night, Valentine should get some run against the Celtics considering how easily he adapts to the game—and the Bulls are in no position to discriminate if a guy can contribute, thus making Valentine’s recovery that much more important.

“It feels great right now. The staff, give them credit. They’ve done a great job of getting me back into great shape, getting my ankle stronger, so it feels great right now, and ready.”

It seemed the injury took longer than the initial prognosis, and even Valentine felt that, as the Bulls’ first-round draft pick was anxious to get back on the floor and learn the new system and teammates.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“Yeah, that was my first ever actual ankle sprain. I’ve twisted my ankle a couple times in college, and I’m back in a couple days, practicing the next day,” he said. “But this one took a while. It was kind of frustrating because I thought it was going to be just like college, twist my ankle and be right back, but it was kind of an unfortunate accident. It took longer to heal. It actually took longer to heal than me actually being out there. It took time, but I’m ready now.”

Heck, he even has a new teammate in Michael Carter-Williams and that affects him being a primary ballhandler on the floor. Fred Hoiberg envisioned Valentine being able to play some point behind Rajon Rondo but with the recent trade, Valentine will likely play more on the wings behind Butler and Dwyane Wade.

It’s another change in the early stages of his career—one where he hasn’t been able to establish much continuity. Hopefully for Valentine, the worst of this is behind him.

“It’s very difficult, and being in Chicago, we’ve played all of our preseason games here, so there wasn’t no traveling like mid-season, so everybody is here pretty much every day practicing, and I’ve got to sit out at it,” Valentine said. “They kind of lose a little chemistry towards me, and the guys getting to play with me and me getting to know them on the court, so kind of lose a little bit of rhythm. But the good thing about me is I don’t need a whole lot of time with the team. I can kind of just sneak my way in and adapt.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Looking ahead to opening night matchup against Celtics

Bulls Talk Podcast: Looking ahead to opening night matchup against Celtics

In our latest installment of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill get you set for opening night against the Celtics. 

They debate realistic expectations for the team and break down the decision to start Taj Gibson at power forward. Later, Schanowski and Gill analyze the team's biggest concern, defense. 

Finally, CSN New England's Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely joins the panel to discuss what Rajon Rondo has left in the tank. 

Check out the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast below: