By Aaron Goldhammer | ESPNCleveland.com
CLEVELAND -- Since LeBron's first game back in town was a one-in-a-lifetime moment for Cleveland sport fans, I decided to take fans behind the scenes with me as I chronicled LeBron's every move from pregame to the final buzzer.
6:45pm: The doors to the locker room open and the Cavaliers public relations staff informs the media that LeBron and Kevin Love won’t be available pre-game. Still, the media makes a beeline to LeBron’s locker.
6:47pm: NBA and TNT cameras are taking video of LeBron’s jersey for tonight. It’s neatly folded on the floor in front of his locker. The tank top and shorts are getting more media attention than any Cavs player over the last four seasons.
7:03pm: I’ve been in the arena for over an hour and finally have my first glimpse of LeBron. He isn’t going to say a word on camera, but the photographers engulf him. He seems loose and is smiling and chatting with pal Damon Jones.
7:10pm: Time for LeBron to put some tunes on his Beats Pill to get amped for the game. Tonight’s choice, appropriately enough, is a medley of tracks from Cleveland natives Bone-Thugs In Harmony. LeBron knows every word. It’s not “The Crossroads” or “I Tried,” so I can’t sing along. Emmett? What song is this again?
7:12pm: Cameras are still glued on LeBron as he puts on this impromptu concert, but there are so many F-bombs and curse words in this song, outlets are never going to be able to use the video with audio.
7:15pm: I decide to tweet a pic of LBJ in the locker room. I debated internally whether it was creepy or cool, but decided that fans would want it. PR Czar Tad Carper closes the locker room. “Folks, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here…”
7:40pm: LeBron and the Cavs run through the tunnel for warm-ups. This is getting real.
7:44pm: LeBron is showed on the “Humongotron” for the first time. Crowd in the arena goes bananas. To me, the cheers are already as loud as boos were on December 2nd, 2010.
7:52pm: Cavs PA announcer Olivier Sedra announces that the key match-up tonight is LeBron vs Carmelo. Frankly, I think Alex Kirk is going to be a bigger story.
7:54pm: Every fan in the arena is standing. Every. Single. One.
7:58pm: Nike commercial airs on the “Humongotron.” Awesome. I just realized via YouTube that it’s 2:16 long. 1-2-3…4-5-6…TOGETHER!!
7:59pm: LeBron is standing by himself on the baseline singing “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. Where are Stu, Phil, and Mike Tyson?
8:04pm: Usher. National anthem. Crowd starts singing along half way through. Chills…
8:09pm: Chalk toss…
8:12pm: LeBron misses first shot. Jumper from the right side.
8:17pm: LeBron’s first Cavalier points in four and a half years involve a break-away three point play with an acrobatic finish. Not shabby. He missed the free throw, however.
8:19pm: A new in-timeout feature called “Nice Tweets.” LeBron reads one, but the best was Anderson Varejao. “Dear Andy. Can I rent a one bedroom apartment in your hair?”
8:28pm: LeBron is 1-4 to start the game. Playing a little too fast for my liking.
8:32pm: Bieber just got booed. Loudly. Usher and Michael Strahan felt bad for him.
8:39pm: Significant bench time for LeBron. Blatt clearly realizes that they have a bigger game in Chicago tomorrow night.
8:55pm: LeBron at the foul line. Still not the strongest part of his game, but he makes them both.
8:58pm: Make it down people. History is made with the first re-appearance of the LeBron “stanky-leg.” Missed three makes LBJ 1-7 from the floor.
9:05pm: Airball. 1-9. Crowd murmurs.
9:09pm: LeBron tells Rachel Nichols that he needs to slow down. Agreed
9:36pm: LeBron finally cans his second field goal. It’s his first three since he came home.
9:42pm: Carmelo taking over with LeBron guarding him. You can’t blame Chalmers tonight, LBJ…
9:49pm: LeBron getting testy with Jason Smith of the Knicks. Frustration starting to set in for him. He’s 3-12 from the floor through three quarters.
10:01pm: Here we go. LBJ jumps off the bench and promptly has a beautiful assist to Varejao.
10:17pm: Need LeBron to take over here. Finally, a strong drive to the rim a two free throws. The party atmosphere is gone. Need to win tonight to make this day special.
10:36pm: No air in the Q right now. Melo big jumper over LeBron make it a 5 point game. Ugh…it’s over.
10:40pm: Fans heading out unhappy. It’s an unexpected end to a wild day and losing the game takes some of the fun out of the whole experience.
By Greg Brinda | ESPNCleveland.com
We are all excited about our Browns this year. For the first time in a very long time there seems to be some legitimacy with this team. It has been a long time coming.
We are focused on Mike Pettine and his coaching staff. We are focused on how this group of players are performing game in and game out. So far the accolades are going to Ray Farmer and who is in charge in the here and now.
But the assembly of this team started a long time ago. Five different administrations have had something to do with this. That's right five!
Now we know the last four hierarchies had their issues. A lot of them. But to be fair, all that have been involved need to be given some credit.
Joe Thomas arguably anchors the offensive line. Give credit to Phil Savage. Thomas was the team's first round pick.
Ahtyba Rubin has been solid on the defensive line for 7 years. Again give credit to Savage. Rubin was the team's sixth round pick in 2008.
Sunday the team lost a rock at center in Alex Mack. You can give credit to the George Kokinis-Eric Mangini combo for that one. Mack was a first round pick in 2009.
All-Pro cornerback Joe Haden came to be in 2010. Now we can debate how good Joe really is. But he is really good and anchors the defensive backfield. Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert were the pickers that April.
2011 brought Phil Taylor in round one. Jabaal Sheard was picked in the second round. Jordan Cameron, the team's best receiver at the moment, was picked in round four. Starting cornerback Buster Skrine was selected in round five. John Greco, Craig Robertson, and Christian Yount were also acquired in 2011. Heckert and Holmgren get credit there also.
The Heckert-Holmgren platter also ordered up draft picks Mitchell Schwartz, John Hughes, Travis Benjamin, and Billy Winn in 2012. All those players are significant contributors.
2012 also saw the boarding of Tank Carder, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, John Bademosi and Tashaun Gibson. They also play a big part in what the Browns are doing.
And last but not least, Josh Gordon, who was picked in the supplemental draft in 2012. We do know how good Gordon is when he is actually on the field.
In 2013 Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi got their turn.
Barkevious Mingo was the team's number one pick. Of course the jury is still out on him. Armonty Bryant is now out with knee injury. We know he was pretty good on the defensive line. Waiver wire picks Eric Martin and Jordan Poyer were added.
Free agents also played a big role in 2013. Gary Barnidge, Desmond Bryant, Bill Cundiff, Paul Kruger and Spencer Lanning came aboard.
And I did mention... no I guess I forgot. Some guy by the name of Brian Hoyer found his way back to his hometown.
And finally we know the story of 2014 starting with the Johnny draft.
So this is not make a case that all who came before this group who is in charge were perfect and geniuses. They were not.
But in the big scheme of things those who were running the club starting in 2007 played some role in where the Browns are now.
Let's just hope, Farmer, Pettine and company can bring it home.
We will see!
The hottest thing on the internet right now is are the RKO Vines.
Well someone got ahold of Rizz outside Ray's in Kent.
Out of nowhere!!!!
By Greg Brinda | ESPNCleveland.com
The Browns are 2-2 at the quarter poll. Has to be good.
Brian Hoyer. Real good.
Mike Pettine. Not bad so far.
Justine Gilbert. Oh boy. So far, real bad.
Travis Benjamin. Bad. Then real good.
Johnny Football. You decide.
Browns Nation. Feeling really good right now.
Tribe 2014. Pitching, hitting, fielding. Two out of three bad.
Terry Francona. Good, good, good.
Cory Kluber. Cy good.
Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes. Double great.
Nick Swisher. Bad man. Real bad.
Jason Kipnis. Started bad....stayed bad....ended bad.
The Dolans. Perceived bad by the fans. Perception is reality.
The Tribe off season. Looking bad right now. But you never know.
Progressive Field new look. Should be good.
Dan Gilbert. Back to good because you know why.
Lebron. What do you think? Great!
David Blatt. Hopefully will be really good.
Cavs 2014-15. Banking on great. Hear that - banking on great!
Parking outside the Q for Cavs games. Bad for customers, great for lot owners.
Downtown starting now. Great for everybody.
Upcoming post game Cavs shows. Hopefully great.
Refurbished First Energy Field. Very outstanding good.
The sports future for Cleveland. Looking good which is better than the past.
MLB playoffs. Good.
Finding MLB playoffs on TV. Impossibly bad.
By Greg Brinda | ESPNCleveland.com
I have never lived in another city that has as NFL team.
I don't really know what it's like on a Monday after a win or a loss.
I do know what it's like on a Monday after a Browns loss. And we have had too many of these.
But a Monday after a Browns win is something special. It may even be unique.
When the Browns win - and there haven't been a lot of those days - the day after seems like Christmas. The mood of the city with the snap of a finger becomes almost indescribable.
You would think that everyone was getting raises. No matter how bad the weather, it's always sunny after a win.
Baseball is a grind. One win in a week is just that with at least five more games to be played. Basketball is less of a grind but there are three or four games a week.
A football win, however, is like 10 wins. A football win is like a major winning streak. A football win puts you on a euphoric high that lasts for a whole week.
Now this might happen in other cities. But having lived here all my life I know winning is the ultimate elixir for whatever is ailing you.
Even when the Browns were really good 25 years ago and there were a lot of great Mondays, fans were just as excited. One win, five wins, ten wins, the craze was there every week.
I know this is a "Browns Town" and this carries an extraordinary passion, almost bizarre at times, but reality is reality.
The loyalty to this organization goes beyond all logic. It's a shame that for many years the team took that loyalty for granted. Oh they said the right things but never delivered the right product.
Now it's Jimmy Haslam's turn. He's seems passionate and committed. It looks as if he has hired the right people after a few missteps.
But the team has to deliver week after week. It's expected.
Whether that happens remains to be seen.
What we do know is that the fans and their passion will be there. And that hasn't changed one bit.
By Dave DeNatale| ESPNCleveland.com
Hi everyone! I appreciate everyone’s concern over these last three weeks or so that I’ve been out. At some point, I will answer everyone’s emails and tweets personally, but in the meantime I thought I should let you know what’s going on. First, the background:
“Son, your heart is too big.”
That’s what a doctor at the Bowling Green State University student clinic told me twenty years ago today. September 12, 1994.
Besides the flattering figurative statement, what did that mean?
Understand that at the time I was a relatively healthy 19 year old just starting my sophomore year at BGSU. In the past 12 months, I had grown four inches and lost about 40 pounds of baby fat. I played basketball. I worked out.
Now suddenly I was being rushed to Wood County Hospital because an x-ray showed that I had early signs of congestive heart failure. I was convinced that it was bronchitis or maybe pneumonia. Not so much.
The diagnosis was viral cardiomyopathy, a condition in which your heart muscle becomes inflamed and enlarged. Because it is enlarged, your heart muscle is stretched and becomes weak. This means it can’t pump blood as fast as it should. A very rare condition for a 19 year old.
Over the next few days there were frightening sounding words thrown my way like catheterization, biopsy, and the worst of all….transplant. I didn’t know it at the time, but the odds of me making it to age 40 (well 39 years, 10 months anyway) alive and well weren’t the greatest.
Yet thanks to the work of many fine doctors and specialists, I’m still here. Two decades later…and with the very same heart.
Thanks to the support and love of friends and family, I continue to cherish each and every day.
My ESPN Cleveland teammate Je’rod Cherry likes to refer to me as the “Happiest Man in America.” I always tell him, “What’s not to be happy about?”
It’s not always been easy. There have been several procedures…and setbacks….and more procedures. Your will and faith gets tested at times. But I’ve never lost that optimism and joy.
And that’s what brings me to today. I recently suffered another setback in my continuing battle against viral cardiomyopathy. It’s put me on the sideline for the moment as my doctors and I figure out our next move. That’s why I’ve been off the air.
Surgery may be coming down the road. Or perhaps medication therapy will do the trick. Whatever the case, I plan to be back very soon. This will not keep me down.
I so appreciate everyone’s concern. I am beyond humbled.
Special thanks to my family at ESPN Cleveland for always having my back. I love you guys.
And remember what Winston Churchill once said, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in.”