Thursday, June 30, 2016

Phillip Phillips Talks Springsteen, Fans and New Music

Photo by Nick Walker
With the Olympics approaching, it’s likely any memories of 2012’s summer games are dancing through your head to Phillip Phillips' bright anthem “Home.” The five-time platinum debut single from the now-25-year-old American Idol winner became the unofficial theme song for the games when it was played during key Olympic moments such as the "Fab Five" Women’s Gymnastics Team’s gold medal wins. But Phillips is far more than “Home,” he’s charted three other songs on the Billboard Hot 100, released two albums and has shared the stage with legends such as Bruce Springsteen. The down-to-earth Albany, Georgia, resident checks in with us before his July 6 show at the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park with singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson and “Say Something” hitmakers A Great Big World. 

ON POST-IDOL LIFE: I got older, got a little uglier [laughs], got married. Yeah, so a lot has happened, another couple albums have come out. It seems like a short amount of time but also it's been a long time too. It's a lot touring for it, you know, you get paid to keep doing this, something I love. As far as making the songs, it's been good. The songs I've written have this very classic sound to it; it's timeless. Not many people would try to make these type of songs. My big goal is writing these songs. I think these songs are definitely my best lyrically and musically. They're pretty special.

ON FAVORITE CAREER MOMENT: I think the biggest moment was probably when I toured with John Mayer and Bruce Springsteen, in South America, Rock in Rio. It was just unbelievable to see 90,000 people looking out there onstage. It was me, doing like an hour set or something, and then Mayer came on after me, and Bruce closed the night out. That was definitely one of the best nights of my life.

ON THIS TOUR: [Matt Nathanson] is an awesome dude. He's hilarious. He's just making me laugh. The tour's been amazing. I like to change the set up every night. I try to keep it different for each show and special for that crowd. I'll just be in town, walking around, seeing what the vibe is going to be like, trying to pick the songs I want to play. I've been starting to introduce some covers. You never know what you're going to get.

ON COOLEST FAN MOMENT ON TOUR: It was like past midnight, and they were waiting up on the pavement. They didn't even say hello or anything, they just ran to me and just hugged me. It was very, very sweet.

ON THIRD ALBUM SET TO BE OUT LATER THIS YEAR: I've worked with some awesome people, just really good writers, and they can help push me. Some of it's about imagination, it's about realizing and being able to live life. Definitely some of it's about using my voice, and what I see in a lot of songs. The music, and writing songs, all of it's amazing, some of my best material.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Three Things to Know About Human Trafficking

Photo Courtesy of FBI

Masses of people are flooding in and out Cleveland this summer with the NBA championship and the Republic National Convention. The flocks of people bring excitement but also the concern that there could be human sex traffickers and victims amidst the bustle. To raise awareness, the Cleveland VAMC Social Work Professional Development Committee held Not For Sale: Probing the Depths of Human Trafficking symposium June 24. Amongst the speakers were Brian Vigneaux, former FBI agent and senior investigator with Cuyahoga Country Prosecutor's Office, and Theresa Flores, a local human trafficking survivor and founder of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.).  Here are three things you should know about human trafficking.

1. Human trafficking takes places everywhere — even suburban neighborhoods and schools.
“I was trafficked out of my own suburban home for years,” Flores recalls. After being raped by a classmate and manipulated by his older brothers, she was forced into sex trafficking every night. After her parents fell asleep, the traffickers would take her from her relatively safe neighborhood and return her in the morning. “If my parents would have checked my bed at night, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she explains.  The traffickers began taking her out of school during the day but no one noticed the warning signs. “I was exhausted from sleeping two hours each night and my grades dropped to C’s, D’s and F’s,” she remembers. All she needed was an adult to see the red flags, but no one did.

2. Traffickers do not have to be strangers.
Often times disguised as boyfriends, traffickers lure in victims through romantic connections and flattery.  Flores was conned into human trafficking by her freshman-year crush. “All it took was three words from him, ‘I like you,’ ” Flores states. The prevalence of social media in younger generations today has made it increasingly easier for traffickers to target young girls today by flirting with them online. “Kids have so many friends on social media, they assume, ‘Oh, I must know him,” she explains.

3. Most prostitutes are victims.
On, local prostitutes post daily advertisements to offer their services, but these girls are often the victims of human sex trafficking. “Pimps want to give the impression that the girls are acting independently, but I personally have never seen a case where a girl is just earning her way through college,” Vigneaux says. In reality, these young women, most of whom are underage, are compelled by traffickers to use prostitution to avoid abuse, protect their family or feed a drug addiction. “It’s a constant manipulation, and they never get the money” Vigneaux adds.

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,

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,

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,

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;

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,

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Cavs Fan Guide: Mike Golic says Cavs are down but not out

Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic
Photo courtesy of Joe Faraoni, ESPN
With ESPN’s popular morning radio show Mike and Mike in town for the NBA Finals June 8 and 9, Mike Golic has been able to catch up on his sleep.

“At home (Connecticut) I get up at 4:15 a.m.,” says Golic from ESPN’s set at Fan Fest at the Gateway Plaza. “While we’re here, I get to sleep until 5 a.m.”

Golic, the Willowick native who spent nine seasons in the NFL, returns home to find the Cavs in an 0-2 hole against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. “Cavs fans don’t want to hear it, but Golden State is the better team right now,” says the 53-year-old Golic. “The Cavs players look in the mirror and they know they have to play better. They’re good enough to beat this team, and I fully expect Cleveland to win tonight.”

While a potential victory tonight could change the narrative of the series, a loss will all but bury the team’s hopes for a title. “Tomorrow morning we’re either going to be talking about how the Cavs are right back in it or we’ll be talking about Golden State as one of the greatest teams of all time,” says Golic, who talks with us about the Finals, LeBron James and his co-host.

Q: What has been the difference in the series thus far?
The role players. In the first two games the bench for Golden State has shot 62 percent, and the bench for Cleveland has shot 31 percent. I was a role player in the NFL, and when you’re asked to perform, you need to contribute. Against a team like Golden State, you need all of your guys to step it up.

Q: Are you surprised by how the series has played out to this point?
I think everybody expected a different series. I thought with [Kevin] Love and Kyrie [Irving], Cleveland had a team that could match the Warriors’ 3-point shooting. With Love and Irving out last year, a lot of people didn’t believe Golden State won a legitimate NBA title. Right now, they’re showing everybody that they did.

Q: Are the Cavs relying too much on James in this series?
LeBron is the best player in the league. But you need more than one superstar to win in the NBA. That’s why he was able to win a title in Miami. Fairly or unfairly, a lot is asked of him. Cleveland’s offense is too segmented right now and LeBron has shot just eight free throws in the first two games.

Q: What’s it like working alongside Mike Greenberg?
The show has been on 17 years but with Greenie it feels like 30 years. We’re very different. We come from different upbringings. I have to explain to him the difference between a flat-head screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver. Some times I just shake my head in disbelief.

By Barry Goodrich

Cavs Fan Guide: Three Songs of the NBA Finals

The music of a Cavs game can change the mood of the fans and a lift up the entire arena. But when DJ Steph Floss spins at the NBA Finals home games against the Golden State Warriors, June 8 and 10, he wants to catch the ear of the players first. "For the Finals, I try to cater more to the players than I actually do to anyone else, because I feel that they need the extra energy," Floss explains. "The energy that the players put out, the fans will reciprocate." Let's remind the Warriors that this is our Land by turning up the music and jamming out to Floss' three songs of Finals.

"Really Got It" by Jerreau
Floss got hooked on this song back around Christmas time but kept it on the down low until LeBron James recently put it to Instagram. "When LeBron posted the video of him in the car going crazy listening to this song, everyone was like, What is this, What is this? Everybody just fell in love with this song. Great connection. Amazing lyrics. It's a motivational song."

"Summer Sixteen" by Drake
Like Drake, the Cavs are looking for revenge the summer of 2016. "It's very simple," Floss explains. "We are looking for revenge playing the Golden State [Warriors] again this year." Some fans may be upset with Drake, ever since he dissed James and Kyrie Irving on Instagram. But let's let bygones be bygones, especially since Floss fired back plenty of friendly shots at Drake on his own Instagram, and James and Drake settled their dispute with a public hug and a near-kiss on the cheek.

"Trap or Die" by Young Jeezy
 When the Golden State Warriors come to play on our home turf June 8, the Cavs are letting them know who's house it is, true to Young Jeezy's lyrics, "Last time I checked, I am the man on these streets." "People were questioning whether we are that good," Floss says. "But nah, last time I checked, we are the man."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cavs Fan Guide: This Cat Loves the Cavs in a Very Special Way

Even when we are down, the booming energy of thousands of fans packing into and around The Q during home and away games in the NBA Finals' Cleveland Cavaliers-Golden State Warriors matchup is difficult to match. But Tina Adkins is content to skip the hoopla and watch her beloved Cavs team with her furry friend, Nala, at home. Adkins tells us why her feline is always her best basketball companion.

"It started with the first game of the season, almost as soon as Ahmaad [Crump] started announced the lineups. Nala came running down the stairs and jumped up on the cable box, and now every single Cavs game, she’s up on that cable box watching the game with me.

My father absolutely loved LeBron James, and I swear my dad’s spirit is in that cat. [LeBron’s] first season back is when my dad was getting really sick. Even when he was laying there dying, that was our thing. I’d head straight from work to the hospital and watch the Cavs game with him, and now the cat watches the Cavs games with me.

She will sit there and stare at that TV the whole time, from tipoff to the end of the fourth quarter. She barely moves. Sometimes she’ll put her paw up on the screen. Or when I start yelling at the TV, she’ll perk up and get really close to the TV.

She’s a very smart cat. She was born last July, so she’s coming up on a year. It was maybe like the seventh or eighth game of the season when I really started to notice it kept happening. And just out of emotion, I was like, OK Dad, I know you’re here with me." — as told to Kevin Stankiewicz

Friday, June 3, 2016

Cavs Fan Guide: Stylish Threads for the Finals

A photo posted by Omar "O" Z. M (@officialozm) on

The NBA Finals are no time to let your style slack — especially if you’re sitting courtside. With the national media spotlight and a dose of celebs hitting town for the Cavs’ home games, we talk to Omar Madhun, who owns sneaker and fashion reseller Ship to CLE, about some tips for stunting (showing off) in style.

Hat Trick: Madhun recommends starting at the top with Tackma’s suede-brimmed Cleveland Cap ($65). The hat features the brand’s signature lightning-shaped T logo, but in Cavalier-inspired colors. The cap itself is navy blue, while the logo is buttery gold outlined in wine. “The quality speaks for itself, and it’s affordable,” Madhun says. The cap is also a statement piece at Cavs game, he says. One of the brands’ founders has ties to Cleveland, and LeBron James, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson have all publicly sported it. “Especially in Cleveland, you can’t go wrong,” Madhun says.

Time Travel: Although there is plenty of limited-edition NBA Finals gear hitting the shelves right now, Madhun recommends rocking vintage-looking Cavalier threads. “That vintage look just beats out that new style,” Madhun says. Whether you had it buried in the closet from the ‘90s or you picked it up at a secondhand retailer is inconsequential. But for those like Madhun, who is 23, choosing the vintage route evinces a certain level of fandom. “It conveys that you’ve been a fan for a good amount of time, even if you’re young,” he says. “They assume this guy is serious if he went out of his way to buy a jacket that’s older than him.”

Bottomed Out: While narrowing down the perfect pants can be tricky because it’s slightly dependent on what you’re wearing up top, Madhun says it would be hard to miss with a pair of Nike Tech Fleece joggers ($100). They’re comfortable, stylish and most importantly, help show off your sneakers (don’t worry, we’re getting to those next). But Madhun says if you're torn between two options — one that goes better with your top and the other with your kicks — choose the former. “I wouldn’t stretch to make the shoe look good,” he says. If you’ve got top-notch soles, “people are still going to notice them.”

Kick It: The shoes take your look to the next level. Madhun’s recommendation is any pair of Nike’s Kyrie Irving line, especially the first version. But if you’re going to go with the newer Kyrie 2s, make it the exclusive Krispy Kreme edition ($165 through NikeID). “Those are super hot right now,” Madhun says. “They’ve been a hit throughout the playoffs.” Prompted to choose, Madhun says go with Kyries over LeBron James’ signature Nike shoe because they look better in a casual setting. Oh, and Madhun says please be sure to leave your Under Armour Steph Currys at home. Hopefully, that’s a no-brainer.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cavs Fan Guide: Where to Watch, Eat and Drink Pregame

Photo courtesy Barley House Cleveland

Barley House Cleveland: Score four-bottle Bud Light and Budweiser buckets for $14 during games. Plus, the spot's $5 pizza specials every Thursday make tonight's game a tasty throwdown. 1261 W. Sixth St., Cleveland, 216-623-1700,

Clevelander Bar & Grill: Celebrate with the $4 Kevin Love-inspired “Droppin’ Dimes” shot, made with Three Olives Cherry vodka. If you’d rather watch the Cavs make shots than drink them, the Clevelander will have $4 domestic 16-ounce cans, $3.25 short and $4.75 tall domestic drafts available for game time as well. 834 Huron Road E, Cleveland, 216-771-3723,

Eat’n Park: Fans decked out in their best Cavs gear will score a free Smiley Cookie with their meal at Cleveland-area Eat’n Park locations, including Austintown, Boardman, Chapel Hill, Medina, Mentor, Parma, Warren and Willoughby locations. Various locations,

Flat Iron Cafe: Need a lift to the game? The Flat Iron’s Cafe Valet will shuttle you and your friends for free. Plus, fans can score daily specials, which rotate every game, such as 50 cent wings during Game 3 June 8. 1114 Center St., Cleveland, 216-696-6968,

Free Cavs Fan Fests and Watch Parties: Need a pregame Cavs fan makeover or a Scream Team pump-up? Head over to these free fests outside The Q. Fans of all ages will enjoy games, live music by Northeast Ohio bands, food trucks, performances by the Cavalier Girls and giveaways for home games June 8 and 10. For away games June 2 and 5, snag a ticket to a watch party inside the arena for all of the entertainment from an actual game expect the players and the game shown on the humongotron. If it goes to more than four games, expect Fan Fests for future Finals home games and more Watch Parties for road games. Fan Fests, Outside of The Q, East Sixth Street and Gateway Plaza; Watch Parties, The Q, 1 Center Court, Cleveland,

Hodge’s: One of downtown’s largest patios will play host to Cavs fans eager to catch both home and away games on the two 70-inch TVs installed specially for the NBA Finals. During the games, basketball fans can sip on $3 Coors and Great Lakes Brewing Co. Dortmunder Gold on draft. 668 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 216-771-4000,

The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland: Both local and overnight basketball fans can celebrate the Cavs NBA Finals appearance at the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland. Viewing parties in the Lobby Lounge will take place every game of the Finals and the special $16 All In cocktail, made with tequila, triple sec and prickly pear liqueur and garnished with a gold sugar rim and gold dust sprinkle, will be available. Guests of the hotel’s Club Level will also receive special basketball-inspired treats. 1515 W. Third St., Cleveland, 216-623-1300, 

All In cocktail
Winking Lizard: If seeing the King slam-dunk on just one screen isn’t enough, then head over to the Winking Lizard's Gateway location — just under a five-minute walk from The Q — to watch the game broadcasted on about 50 TV screens throughout the restaurant. 811 Huron Road, Cleveland, 216-589-0313,

Yours Truly Restaurant: If — and when — the Cavs win the NBA championship, Yours Truly's Rockside location will serve free food the following day. There is also a Yours Truly six-item special features menu as long as the Cavs are in the NBA Finals that include bites such as the Triple Threat Notso Fries, 3 Point Swish Sliders and Brew Kettle's All For One session IPA beer. 8111 Rockside Road, Valley View, 216-524-8111,

Our Favorite NBA Playoffs Social Media Moments — So Far

How did we ever follow sports before social media? From diligently studying LeBron James’ occasional cryptic tweets and who he follows — or doesn't follow — to the Twitter spats between fans and ESPN troublemakers such as Stephen A. Smith or Skip Bayless, we can't get enough. Ahead of June 2's first game of the NBA Finals rematch between the Cavs and the Golden State Warriors, we take a look back at some of our favorite social media moments.

Lil' Kev 

Presumably, Richard Jefferson was bored during a flight home from the Cavs' first-round sweep of the Detroit Pistons, so he decided to peruse one of the in-flight magazines to pass the time. That's when he spotted a Tommy Bahama ad featuring a model, who looked shockingly similar to teammate Kevin Love, who recently did some modeling of his own for Banana Republic. Jefferson tore the page out, nicknamed it Lil' Kev and posted it on his Snapchat (which we suggest following). The rest is viral history. The Lil' Kev page has its own Twitter account, a verified Instagram page and appeared on custom-made T-shirt J.R. Smith was seen donning before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

A photo posted by Lil Kev (@officiallilkev) on

Animal Kingdom 

Humans aren't the only Cavs fans in town. Instagram user @scherer84's two cats wear their pride with the best of them.

Rihanna Back at It 

Rihanna’s affection for LeBron James is no secret. She’s still ardently supporting James, evidenced by her Instagram post from late May. While laying out in the sun, catching some rays, the 28-year-old singer emblazoned James’ No. 23 on her stomach with sunscreen and shared it with the caption “mood.” If the Cavs can keep their red-hot 3-point shooting going, the Warriors might want some of Rihanna’s sunscreen so they don’t get burnt. 

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

Drake’s Take

Not all the social media buzz surrounding the Cavs postseason as been supportive. Canadian rapper Drake took to Instagram to launch shots at the team, specifically Kyrie Irving. It was, of course, while his Toronto Raptors were on top in Games 2 and 3.

A photo posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on

While the team got its revenge on the floor in Games 5 and 6, the fans did too online. DJ Steph Floss, the official DJ for the Cavs and LeBron James, posted a trio of photos on Instagram, two of which directly involved Drake.

A photo posted by DJ Steph Floss (@djstephfloss) on

Class with Professor Polk 
Local comedian Mike Polk Jr. took some time to analyze the Cavaliers' scorching-hot 3-point shooting during the postseason, a key reason why they've been so dominant. The mathematical breakdown is actually informative. One lingering question after watching, though, is what professor really wears a white lab coat?

Morgan Freeman's Prediction, Sort of 
Frank Caliendo, the renowned voice impersonator and comedian, was in 92.3 The Fan's studio Tuesday, appearing on its afternoon drive show. There seems to be no shortage of impressions he can do, but Morgan Freeman is one of his best. He showed it off on air while offering his thoughts on the fast-approaching Finals. 92.3 on-air personality and former Ohio State University Buckeye Dustin Fox tweeted out a behind-the-scenes look at Caliendo channeling his inner Freeman. It's hilarious, and hopefully, his prediction of the Cavs winning in six is true.