Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cavs Fan Guide: 5 Cavs Championship T-Shirts We Love

With the Cavs victory in Game 7 of the NBA Finals June 19, Believeland devotees are finally able to splurge on championship gear for the first time since Dec. 27, 1964. We've all seen the coveted locker room T-shirt, but these championship shirts will help you stand out from the rest of the 216.

Seeing the King’s emotional celebration as he held the trophy following the Cavs win against the Golden State Warriors was a rush. Commemorate the moment with this cartoon version of LeBron James on the Ilthy Trophy T-Shirt. $32 in white or gold, ilthy.com

If you love official gear, you’ll want to check out this Fanatics Nike champions T-shirt with the image of King James’ hand holding the championship ring. $34.99, fanatics.com

Clevelanders always knew the Cavaliers were destined to become champions, but now that it’s official, it's time to proclaim our status to the rest of the world with the help of Fresh Brewed Tees Champions of the World shirt. $26.99, freshbrewedtees.com

Cleveland Clothing Co. plays off our wine and gold team colors with this clever Won & Golden championship T-shirt. $20.16, 324 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 216-736-8879; 11435 Euclid Ave., 216-465-9595; cleclothingco.com

After 52 years of the Cleveland sports curse, this Where I’m From The Champion City T-shirt serves as a reminder that CLE is now officially #winning. $28, whereimfrom.com

Monday, June 20, 2016

Melissa Etheridge brings heart and soul to Cain Park

Photo by Paul Castro
By choosing one of her own songs for her wedding vows, Melissa Etheridge paid tribute to the two most important things in her life – family and music.

When Etheridge married partner, Linda Wallem, in 2014, she sang the heartfelt “Who Are You Waiting For” as part of the couple’s intimate outdoor ceremony held in Montecito, California. “She knew I would be singing something, but she had never heard the song until the wedding,” says 54-year-old Etheridge. “It was about getting through my last relationship and truly finding the love of my life.”

Etheridge, the Grammy and Academy award winner who visits Cain Park’s Evans Amphitheater June 24, talks with us about her latest album, her LGBT activism and her approach to wellness.

Q: Your 2014 album This is M.E. is the first record you’ve put out on your own MLE Music label. How did the process change from your previous albums?
It was an interesting decision. My record company [Island] was happy to have me on the label, but I said thank you very much and did my own record [company], which I now own. The biggest difference was that it allowed me to work with more producers ... people like Jerry Wonda [Fugees] and Jon Levine [Selena Gomez]. I’m so very critical of myself, and the beautiful thing is they helped me not to edit myself.

Q: You have been at the forefront of the LGBT movement. How have things changed for members of the LGBT community in the past few years?
My song “Monster” is about one of my favorite things – self-empowerment. It’s about not being afraid of your own differences. One of the great institutions of our land, the U.S. Supreme Court, said, Yeah, this is about equality. Once you get to that point, the burden is on those who want to limit those rights.

Q: You are a breast cancer survivor. How did that experience change your life?
I am cancer-free for 12 years now. I think people are finally realizing that you can’t do whatever you want with your body and just take a pill when you get sick. We need to find out about what makes our bodies strong and what breaks them down. Even something like drinking water instead of soda can make a difference.

By Barry Goodrich

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cavs Fan Guide: Ilthy's Glen Infante Wants You To Believe in the WIne and Gold

As soon as the Golden State Warriors had completed their miraculous comeback against the Oklahoma City Thunder to assure a rematch of the NBA Finals, they were the favorites. Vegas said so, as did the talking heads constantly cluttering ESPN’s airwaves. No one believed in LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Unless you talked to people in Cleveland. To commemorate the city’s faith in the Wine and Gold, Nike launched the Believe marketing campaign. The crown jewel of the marketing strategy came via local artist and Ilthy clothing company owner Glen Infante, who live painted a mural of 12 players above a bold, wine-colored “Believe” outside Quicken Loans Arena. We caught up with Infante and got the story on how it all came about. 

We were approached by Game Seven Marketing, a marketing firm that works for Nike. They wanted to get in touch with a local artist to help create this campaign, Believe. I was referred to them by DJ Steph Floss. He gave me a call and said I have this huge opportunity for you. Nike had seen my work and they said they really liked my portrait style and wondering if I could do it at on a large scale. It was after Game 2 was over, and the Cavs were coming back home. That’s when they hit me up. There was two days before Game 3, so I had to work really fast. It was very spontaneous. I had to drop everything I was doing to work on this.

I started the design process and came up with that mural. They loved it pretty much instantly. It only has players that have shoe deals with Nike, so Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova aren’t on it.

I did the priming before, so it was painted gold. But the whole stenciling and outlining, that was done on site before the Fan Fest of Game 3. I started around 1 p.m., and the Fan Fest started at 5 p.m. Everyone was chanting “Let’s Go Cavs” while we were painting. It it was impossible to paint 12 giant heads so we ended up painting through the Fan Fest and into the game, but people kept us posted on what was happening.

I do think the campaign has been working. If Game 5 didn’t solidify belief and put a stamp on our campaign, then I don’t think fans had any belief from the beginning. Yeah, they’re not the perfect team, but when they’re clicking they look pretty unbeatable. You have to believe in LeBron, especially with Kyrie by his side. I think we’re going to win tonight. — as to told Kevin Stankiewicz

Cavs Fan Guide: "Believeland" author Wright Thompson Pulling for a Cavs Win

Wright Thompson photo by Joe Faraoni, ESPN
Wright Thompson, the globe-trotting senior editor of ESPN Magazine, is calling from Turkey, but his mind is drifting back to Cleveland hours before Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

“I’m literally on the edge of civilization,” says the 39-year-old Thompson, who is covering the Euro Cup soccer tournament. “And my translator is a Golden State fan.”

Thompson’s superb 2010 ESPN Magazine piece “Believeland,” written after the departure of LeBron James, is considered by many the definitive take on Cleveland’s culture of sports failures. He came up with the headline after seeing a T-shirt with the slogan during an eight-day stay that took him from Nighttown in Cleveland Heights to the Venture Inn in Garfield Heights.

“I was pleased that it [story] played well in Cleveland, otherwise people would have known it was bullshit,” says Thompson, who talks about tonight’s game and the player he once called “a 6-8 steel mill.”

ON GAME 6 // The universe has just allowed this to happen. To win two games in a row against this team [Golden State] is virtually impossible. But I’ll say they’ll win tonight.

ON LEBRON // You can’t ask more from a modern American celebrity than what LeBron James has done. He has managed to be the thing that people wanted him to be. And, other than the Decision, he has done it with grace and dignity.

ON A CAVS’ CHAMPIONSHIP // It would end all this waiting, which has become its own thing. I’m a lifelong Saints fan, and I cried when they won the Super Bowl. For a thousand different reasons it should happen, and I’m really hoping it does.

ON CLEVELAND // I feel Cleveland is a lot like New Orleans – if you’re not from there you’ll never be from there. I always thought Dennis Kucinich was a nut until I spent a couple hours with him. The guy is brilliant. We drove through his old neighborhood talking about quantum physics. I dream about Slyman's sometimes. I love that jazz club [Nighttown], and the Lithuanian Club is the coolest place in the world.

By Barry Goodrich

Cleveland Museum of Art's Latest Acquisition: Seed Pods

Seed Pods by Sopheap Pich courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art

We got a sneak-peek at one of the Cleveland Museum of Art's most recent acquisitions during a tour of the institution's conservation lab for "Art & Mind," our June 2016 profile of director William Griswold.

Seed Pods, by contemporary Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich, is made with bamboo and rattan shaped using heat and then tied together with steel wire. Close inspection of the sculptures shows singe marks on the strips of bamboo.

Griswold saw Seed Pods while visiting Pich's studio outside Phnom Pen, the country's capital city. He was there with Indian and Southeast Asian art curator Sonya Quintanilla and museum trustees in February.

"We went to his studio and fell in love with this piece," Griswold says. "As we were driving away from his studio [in a bus], I got on the phone with his dealer in New York and said, 'We’ll take it.'"

Griswold — who's fond of Asian art — spoke about the work and the artist, whose work he was introduced to a few years ago at Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, with reverence.

"He’s really an interesting guy," Griswold says. "I think it’s a wonderfully lyrical, incredibly accomplished piece. The actual technique and materials are related to materials that are used in Cambodia for fishing traps. And so these are materials which a Cambodian is intimately familiar. The materials are familiar, but their use in art is altogether new, and it’s really him."

Friday, June 10, 2016

Cavs Fan Guide: Life According to Hype Man Ahmaad Crump

Ahmaad Crump and Nicole Marcellino: Aaron Josefczk
Game 3 of the NBA Finals was a big win for the Cavs, but now the team — and their fans — need all the hype they can get to protect their home court. They need hype man and in-arena host Ahmaad Crump. But maintaining positive morale for more than 20,000 fans in The Q isn’t an easy task, so Crump takes it each game at a time. We caught up with Crump ahead of tonight’s Game 4 matchup.

I knew I wanted to be an announcer for the team when I joined the organization in 2003 as a member of the Rock Squad for the Cleveland Rockers.

Each game, I just look at the big picture. It’s not a sprint, it’s pretty much a marathon. You’ve got to take it one game at a time and focus on the big picture and focus on the goal that’s ahead.

Being the hype man and getting to be a part of the games by doing the introductions and all of that, it’s one of my favorite parts of the job.

Also being in the community, I’m able to make an impact on the kids and the schools and surprise them with tickets to the games.

My definition of hype is excitement, passion and belief. To be a hype man of a team, you have to believe in what you’re hyping up.

At the end of the day, when you’re out there on the floor, it’s got to be all genuine and all passion.

The difference between the hype of regular season games and Finals is what’s at stake. The regular season is great, but the playoffs and the finals — that’s a brand new scene.

You have to take it up a notch, every single game. Just like the players, you have to give every fan a show.

With us playing the Golden State Warriors for the Finals again, a lot of fans have emotions about it, saying it’s a rematch and revenge. But me, I don’t get into that.

I believe in my heart that we can beat them. All the passion that I have, I decide to just spread it out to all of the fans via my microphone.

Being the hype man, and most of all, being a Cavs fan is one of the greatest feelings ever.

Being able to be a part of a team that I was such a big fan of when I was growing up, it’s definitely a humbling experience.

Cavs Fan Guide: Steele’s Sage Advice for Cavs: Stay Aggressive in Game 4

ESPN's Sage Steele interviewing NBA commissioner Adam Silver at halftime of the June 8 NBA Finals game.
Photo courtesy ESPN

As Quicken Loans Arena quaked during the Cavs’ 120-90 blowout victory over the Warriors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, ESPN broadcasters dealt with their own opponent – the crowd noise.

“I love having our set right in the middle of the fans, and they had a reason to be loud in Game 3,” says Sage Steele, host of ESPN’s NBA Countdown show, which broadcasts from The Q with pregame and halftime segments for Game 4 on June 10. “But it is very difficult to broadcast when it’s that loud. We’ve had to experiment with different microphones. Paul Pierce, who is working with us for the Finals, said he thinks Cleveland is the toughest place to play in the NBA.”

The 43-year-old Steele, in her third year as Countdown host, is energized by the fact the Cavs breathed new life into what had been a one-sided series. “I really expected a Cleveland win, because the Cavs are so good at home,” says Steele, who talks with us about the Finals, momentum swings and her friendship with the late Art Modell.

Q: How did the Cavs manage to turn the series around?
The Cavs came out and were so aggressive. They were angry… and they needed to be. We (broadcasters) tend to be somewhat critical when they don’t play that way all the time. It was the 20th playoff game this year that has been decided by 25 or more points. I hope we’re done with all the blowouts in this series.

Q: Why are there so many momentum swings in the playoffs?
I don’t think there’s ever been a swing like that between two games in Finals history. Every single game is an adjustment. I will be shocked if one, if not both, of the Splash Brothers (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) come back with big games tonight. LeBron and Kyrie are going to have to show up for the rest of the series. In my mind, there are zero excuses. You’ve got to bring it every game.

Q: You were friends with Art Modell and his family while covering the Baltimore Ravens. What were your impressions of him?
I knew Art, his wife Pat and his son David pretty well. I knew them as people. I don’t expect Clevelanders to ever fully understand his side of the story. I totally get that. All I know is that the family missed Cleveland dearly.

Q: What’s it like working with Jalen Rose and Doug Collins on NBA Countdown?
Having graduated from Indiana, I’ll never fully love Jalen because he went to Michigan. And I love being around Doug because he’s so smart. This is my favorite year on the show. I’m having a blast.

By Barry Goodrich