Some people follow the opposing team’s fans and writers on Twitter during a big series, but I’m too lazy for such things. All the trouble to click “follow,” then “unfollow” a couple weeks later when they’re still talking about a team I stopped caring about once the series ended? No thanks. But I am a fan of listening to sports talk radio in the opposing city, because it’s easy. Just download a radio app, do a quick search, and bathe in a regional hot take avalanche within seconds.
This is something I only started doing a year ago, after I made a last-second decision to take a red-eye to Pittsburgh on the night before Game 6 and listened to Pittsburgh sports talk (all Pirates chatter) until I got close enough to pick up the Cleveland stations. They were pretty cocky considering their team was down 3-2, figuring victory at “The Q” was inevitable for their Cavvies and making fun of international journalists’ accents.
ALL IN … their feelings
They weren’t quite as excited when I listened yesterday afternoon, but there was still hope. The lead-in was a recording, one of those loud radio announcer guys saying, “Hey Steph! Keep your mouthpiece IN your mouth. Thanks! 92.3 Sports Radio The Fan.”
The hosts were gauging fan confidence in the Cavs’ ability to win the NBA Finals, on a scale of 1-to-10, heading into Game 2. One of the hosts said he was a little iffy, only going as far to say his Cavs confidence index was “only” 6.5. Another “analyst” came on and said Game 2 wasn’t a “must win,” because all the Cavaliers have to do is win one game at Oracle, provided they take all three games in Cleveland. Which sounds like a cinch, except Steve Kerr’s Warriors have won a road game in all of their playoff series to this point.
I checked in on “The Fan” this morning, and it was a different story entirely after the 33-point bludgeoning. After a few minutes of one show, where they discussed in hushed tones why it’d be dumb and “reactionary” to break up the Cavaliers when/if they lose this series in four or five games, another program started called “Bull & Fox” (which sounds like a book I’d read my one-year-old before bedtime).
This show has a contrast in voices — Adam “The Bull” is the loud, brash one. Dustin Fox is a younger, cheerful guy. He was a defensive back who played sparingly in the NFL for three seasons, and mentioned his time playing for Ohio State — no joke — four times in the half hour I listened.
The Bull was beside himself with anger over the Cavs’ “pathetic” and “terrible” performance in Game 2. Fox, who admitted to labeling the Warriors “the most irrelevant 73-win team ever” when they were down 3-1 to the Thunder (to be fair to Fox, you’d be accurate calling the 2015-16 Warriors the most *anything* 73-win team ever), said he still believed in Cleveland. Why? Because no one believed in his Buckeyes before they won the National Championship in 2002. The Bull brought up how Miami had never played Ohio State before the Fiesta Bowl, which Fox’s Buckeyes won 31-24 in overtime. Meanwhile, the Cavs have lost decisively seven straight times to Golden State. Fox would not be deterred.
While the Bull unhappily accepted the fact that the Cavs very well could get swept, Fox explained that the Cavs would figure out a way to win. He just didn’t know how, and he didn’t think the results of the previous two games had anything to do with “X’s and O’s,” but rather it was a question of effort. The Cavs just weren’t trying hard enough, and they got their butts kicked, said Fox. The Bull countered, saying the Warriors haven’t even played their best basketball yet, and the Cavs were destroyed last night with Steph Curry in the bench due to foul trouble. This led to some uncomfortable stammering from Fox, then some talk about LeBron James’ legacy, and it was around that point when I had to turn off the program.
The more things change …
— During each commercial break they advertised a chance to win tickets to Game 3, which sounded more like a threat to Clevelanders than a fantastic prize.
— As for the callers, most were pretty glum. A few suggested the Cavs start Timofey Mozgov, because why not? He’s only scored 13 points in the playoffs, and 5 of those came in garbage time last night, but he scored a lot of meaningless points in the Finals against the Warriors a year ago, sooooo.
— The most memorable fan was what @LOLKNBR calls a “street cred” caller. He started off with, “I played some basketball in my day, OK?” A declaration like this is necessary to set the tone and let the hosts know that this is a caller who probably knows more than the hosts and 99.9% of the guests they interview. Then he said the Cavs could win, as long as they used their size advantage (which they do not possess) to beat the Warriors with “physicality” (which is against the rules). The fan went on, saying if Cleveland knocked some Warriors around and inflicted a little pain, “good things will happen.” He even mentioned missing Perkins. As in, Kendrick. This call sounded familiar. Here’s one I heard when I was driving through Ohio on the day of Game 6:
A little while later, a caller suggested that the Cavs dust off Kendrick Perkins to rough up Stephen Curry. This Clevelander was none too pleased with Curry’s “Something stinks in here, and I think it’s Matthew Dellavedova” expression in Game 5.
Paraphrasing, since I was driving and fairly exhausted, but close enough:
Host: “So you think they should rough him up?”
Host: “I agree.”
Hopefully I heard the same caller today. If there are multiple Clevelanders running around, wishing Kendrick Perkins would come into the game to knock some unsuspecting Warrior’s head off, I should probably be careful when I fly out there for Game 4. At least the hosts who took the call were so defeated that they didn’t enthusiastically agree with the Perkins plan today.