Tag Archives: akron

Witness… Part 2. The LeBron James Legacy continues

Witness… Part 2. The LeBron James Legacy continues

LeBron James i s coming home.

LeBron James i s coming home.

Below find LeBron James’ letter to Sports Illustrated followed by Bill Simmons from ESPN’s Grantland take on James’ return home to West Akron and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On a quick side note, I lived in Fairlawn, Ohio & Bath, Ohio where LeBron lives now and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting LeBron in our earlier days. He is a class act, has always been a class act and now that he has settled into the role of being a father, man, provider, champion… The return home is a glorious and welcome one. I have of course moved down south to my original hometown of Sarasota, FL and if LeBron makes it down this way, he is more then welcome to stop by for a home cooked meal.

BY LEBRON JAMES (AS TOLD TO LEE JENKINS)

Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.

Remember when I was sitting up there at the Boys & Girls Club in 2010? I was thinking, This is really tough. I could feel it. I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating. If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things differently, but I’d still have left. Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.

I went to Miami because of D-Wade and CB. We made sacrifices to keep UD. I loved becoming a big bro to Rio. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. I’ve talked to some of them and will talk to others. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life. I also want to thank Micky Arison and Pat Riley for giving me an amazing four years.

I’m doing this essay because I want an opportunity to explain myself uninterrupted. I don’t want anyone thinking: He and Erik Spoelstra didn’t get along. … He and Riles didn’t get along. … The Heat couldn’t put the right team together. That’s absolutely not true.

I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.

When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.

I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.

To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, “OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.” But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?

I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.

But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.

I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.

Lion Heart

Lion Heart

As Promised, below find a couple parts of Bill Simmons most recent article;

GOD LOVES CLEVELAND

Why LeBron James — unparalleled NBA genius, heir to Michael (and Larry and Magic) — went home

BY BILL SIMMONS ON JULY 11, 2014

Yeah, I read LeBron James’s classy letter in Sports Illustrated. I believe him. I think he wanted to come home. I think he always wanted to come home.

In the summer of 2010, LeBron handled everything wrong. He knows that now. His hometown turned on him. His former owner excoriated him. Everyone else hated what he did. We turned him into a wrestling heel, pushed him to a dark place, affected his personality, planted seeds of doubt that blossomed like a black rose during the 2011 Finals. It took LeBron nearly 15 months to recover from the damage, both mentally and physically, and when he did, he captured two straight MVPs and his first two NBA titles.

But he never forgot what happened, and deep down, he probably always wanted to atone. When the time arrived this summer, he flipped the script on us. This wasn’t a 24-7, overplanned reality show like the one in 2010. He said nothing. He hinted at nothing. During the first week of July, his agent took every meeting. During the second week, LeBron stayed in Las Vegas and made everyone come to him. He announced his decision in an online piece titled “I’m Coming Home,” then he flew to Brazil for the World Cup. So much for the Boys & Girls Club and Jim Gray.

Those four Miami seasons made me sure of one thing: He’s one of the greatest NBA players ever. Now he’s pursuing a greater challenge: bringing Cleveland its first title in 50 years in any sport. Add everything up and it’s the best possible story. He’s the conquering hero who came home, and, hopefully, will conquer again.

It’s also not entirely accurate. I think LeBron would have stayed in Miami — for at least one or two more years — if he truly believed he had a chance to keep winning there.

If you think of him like a genius, it makes more sense. He’s smarter about basketball than you and me, and, really, anyone else. He sees things that we can’t see. During that last Miami season, I don’t think he liked what he saw from his teammates. LeBron James wanted to come back to Cleveland, but he also wanted to flee Miami. His heart told him to leave, but so did his brain. And his brain works like very few brains — not just now, but ever.

Who could have guessed that LeBron had only seven Miami games left? At the time, I thought their gamble to keep resting Wade at the expense of LeBron — which I never agreed with — was improbably paying off. I thought they were headed for a three-peat. I thought LeBron was never leaving Miami. I couldn’t see the things that he saw.

I watched Game 4 from our NBA Countdown set, sitting on the metal steps, and at one point, I emailed an NBA Entertainment friend asking if their photographer could snap a picture. I thought it could be a cool photo — me wearing a blue suit, surrounded by happy Heat fans dressed in white, the Celtics fan trapped in enemy territory, all of us watching someone at the peak of their powers. I just wanted to have it for 30 years from now. I know that sounds sappy, but that’s how I felt.

The truth is, I didn’t know when this would be happening again. And I still don’t.

Magic and Bird were done before I graduated college. Jordan came and went before I turned 30. Duncan, Kobe, Hakeem and Shaq never quite got there — all of them were great, but they were never GREAT. Durant might be a magnificent scorer and an even better teammate, but it’s hard to imagine him getting to that last level. After him, you’re looking at Anthony Davis — someone with an infinitely better chance of becoming the next Duncan than a basketball genius — and there’s nobody on the immediate horizon. This might be it for a while.

So yeah, I wanted a picture. Shoot me. I was there for Larry. I was there for Magic. I was there for Michael. And I was there for LeBron James. Now he’s bringing his genius back to Cleveland. It’s the right move at the right time for the right guy. This will be fun.

LeBron James To Opt Out Of Deal and become free agent.

LeBron James To Opt Out Of Deal and become free agent.

LeBron James

LeBron James

by Chris Broussard

LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, has informed the Miami Heat that James will exercise his early termination option and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Opting out does not mean that James has decided to leave the Heat, sources said.

James, a four-time NBA MVP, had until June 30 to decide whether to opt out of the final two years of his contract with the Heat. He was scheduled to make $20 million next season and had two years and about $42.7 million remaining on his deal.

For full story and millions of other LeBron story’s, CLICK HERE <—–======

Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert Scolds LeBron in Open Letter to Fans

we-are-all-witnesses-lebron-james-546522_1024_768

we-are-all-witnesses-lebron-james-546522_1024_768

Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert Scolds LeBron in Open Letter to Fans

In the wake of LeBron James’s decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert posted an open letter to fans on the team’s website. Mr. Gilbert, the 48-year-old chairman and founder of Quicken Loans Inc. and Rock Financial, became the majority owner of the Cavs in March 2005. (Read related article: LeBron James to Sign With Miami Heat.)

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”

You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

Dan Gilbert
Majority Owner

The Day the Music Died.

we-are-all-witnesses-lebron-james-546522_1024_768

we-are-all-witnesses-lebron-james

Reports are leaning towards LeBron James joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami and leaving the Cleveland Money($30 million smackeroos), Cleveland Fans (Who are yearning like Cubs Fans for a title for the City. Period. — At least the Cubs fans enjoyed NHL titles, NFL titles and maybe even a little White Sox title action) and poor little Cleveland/Northeast Ohio Economy (Estimates have downtown Cleveland, which is on its heels from a poor economy and bad Indians teams, losing $20 million annually due to LeBron’s leaving)

If LeBron leaves to form this Tri-Fecta of Tyranny or Triage of Terror in Miami, then I denounce the NBA. I will go out and buy all the Kansas City Royals/Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Clippers, basically every team that has no money or chooses to spend very little money and therefore never competes with the created $$$ Oligarchy. (i.e. – NY Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Cowboys… basically teams that spend all kinds of sick money in search of glory and legacies whether they ruin the integrity and fandom of the sport in their pursuit.)

Here is an article I read today from FOX Sports…

LeBron James move from Cleveland to Miami appears increasingly likely as the clock counts down to his decision.

LeBron James heads the list of free agents on the open market.

Free agency buzz: Latest big news
Heat win big with Wade, Bosh
Whitlock: Blame ‘Bron’s entourage
FOX Sports Ohio: Please don’t go
Rosen: LeBron’s best option now
Kriegel: Knicks overpay, as usual
Hench: Enough already, LeBron
Rosen: Amar’e-D’Antoni, not again!
Lowry: Too much LeBron coverage
Rosen: Crazy contract offers
Hill: NBA will be a different place
FOX Sports Ohio: LeBron tracker
Ranking the top 10 free agents
Summer of LeBron page

Numerous reports Thursday morning said James is likely to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat, a development that positions the team as an immediate NBA contender.

Newsday reported James was leaning toward Miami, and ESPN has reported James will join the Heat barring a change of heart before his scheduled announcement.

“I’ll be watching,” Wade told The Associated Press. “We’ve scheduled it. I’ll make sure I’m in front of the TV (Thursday) at 9 to watch like everyone else.”

Opting for Miami could cost James millions of dollars in salary. The Cavaliers could sign James to a six-year contract for about $125 million. Assuming he splits the available cap space evenly with Bosh and Wade, the most James could get in Miami would be five years and about $90 million. The difference is somewhat mitigated by the lack of a state income tax in Florida.

For the full story, click here <—-

LeBron James Fever gone Wild….

LBJ has a new twitter account…
LBJ has started a new website which will give you live feeds and updates of his annoucements…
I think the people who do care, only care about 1 announcement in particular. Where might King James spend his days and nights for the next 5 or 6 years…. Lets hope for 6 in the Q.

Here is a great ESPN article which helps put this frenzy in perspective and some interesting Fan Behavior as well.

By Tim Keown, ESPN The Magazine senior writer Tim Keown co-wrote Josh Hamilton’s autobiography, “Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back

The idiocy is what we’ll miss. Once LeBron James announces Thursday where he’ll play basketball for the next several years, there will be no more alphabet-based songs from Broadway singers, no more fans spending their own money on billboards, no more guys waxing their chests and devising elaborate handshakes to persuade James to play basketball for their team.

LeBron James Fan

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Fans wooing LeBron James have used cars, websites, billboards, signs, songs and much more to spread their message.

The vast, endless stupidity is what separates us from other creatures. It is what makes us proud to be American sports fans. And in LeBron James we have found a remarkable confluence of circumstances, people and cities to bring the stupidity to an epic spike, a moment in time that is giving us a glimpse into the brains of a certain segment of the population.

Let’s break it down:

A pointed finger: Classic stall tactic. Caught off guard by the question, he buys himself some time by pointing at the questioner. Defuses the situation immediately by acknowledging both the question and the questioner. The outward point clearly indicates a desire to be elsewhere.

Advantage: Bulls.

Smile: He’s happy. He’s in Akron. Smile presents something of a contradiction when juxtaposed with outward pointing finger. Could be diversionary tactic. Important question not addressed: Was it a close-mouthed smile or were teeth involved? If teeth, done deal.

Advantage: Cavs.

For the full article, click here <—–

Troppe gets Hands on another Downtown Akron Building — “Thank Goodness!”


LANDMARK RESCUED

Tony Troppe renovating historic Kaiser Building for use as cafe, offices across from Canal Park

By Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal staff writer

Photo credits (Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal)

A downtown Akron building whose last owner lost it to foreclosure after a failed attempt to sell it on eBay is getting new life under the eye of historic building renovator Tony Troppe.

Plans call for the Kaiser Building, across from Canal Park on South Main Street, to have a cafe or store in two slots on the first floor, offices on the second floor and a mix of offices and loft apartments on the third floor.

”I did not like that vacancy across the street from the ballpark,” said Troppe, who has renovated several historical buildings in downtown Akron. ”I felt for some time that a building of that stature should be brought back.”

Troppe said he wants to create ”a positive node of knowledge workers,” referring to downtown workers and students who soon will be living at the 22 Exchange Place project a few hundred feet away. He believes they will be looking for places to hang out, eat and work.

The building, believed to have been built in 1877, formerly housed a German-American Family Club and had a grand ballroom on the third floor with 18-foot-high ceilings.

Troppe envisions a world-cafe type of eatery on part of the main floor, with coffee, beer, food and live music. He also wants to create an outdoor eating area on a brick patio to the side or possibly a drive-through window. Troppe said he is in discussions with potential tenants and might run the cafe on his own, similar to Mocha Maiden on Maiden Lane off East Market Street.

Troppe, with private investors under the name Kaiser Hall Revival Group, bought the building from the mortgage lender after a sheriff’s sale for $365,000, according to public records. They have financed the project through Portage Community Bank.

The building’s previous owner, Jeremy Caudill and his company, JJC Investors Inc., had purchased it in 2005 for $650,000. But Caudill was unable to renovate the building or sell it, including an unsuccessful listing on eBay, before losing it to foreclosure for delinquent taxes and back payments to the lender.

The building, at 323 and 325 S. Main St., needed a lot of internal demolition, Troppe said. Crews began in March, and Troppe hopes to have the first floor done and open for business by fall.

FOR COMPLETE ARTICLE, CLICK HERE <—–

The Dark Angel of Akron drops some more Demonic News ~ #1-Chrysler plans to close dealerships #2-Forest City Enterprises reveals big job cuts #3-Shiloh Industries eliminating 111 jobs

#1-Chrysler plans to close 14 dealerships in Cleveland-Akron market

Northeast Ohio stands to lose 14 Chrysler dealerships from Elyria to Wadsworth, according to a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing this morning by Chrysler LLC.

Dealerships targeted for closing include five Spitzer dealerships in Akron, Lakewood, Mayfield Heights, Parma and Sheffield Lake; three Ganley dealerships in Cleveland, Middleburg Heights and Wickliffe; and two Axelrod dealerships — Axelrod Chrysler in Parma and Axelrod-Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep Inc. in Wadsworth.

Also on the closing list are Abraham-Chrysler-Jeep in Elyria, Crestmont Chrysler Jeep in Beachwood, Great Northern Dodge in North Olmsted and Medina World Cars in Medina.

As the automaker’s bankruptcy unfolds, expect dealers to combat the closings.

Alan Spitzer, chairman and CEO of Spitzer Management Inc., could not be reached this morning and did not return a call. Nick Abraham, owner of Abraham-Chrysler-Jeep, also did not return a call.

#2-Forest City Enterprises reveals big job cuts in posting fourth-quarter loss

Forest City Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: FCEA, FCEB) has reported sizable net losses for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Jan. 31, while also revealing that it reduced its nationwide work force by nearly 500 full-time positions during the fiscal year as part of a cost-cutting drive to increase its liquidity.

The real estate giant said its net loss in the latest fourth quarter totaled $45.1 million, or 44 cents a share, and compares to a year-earlier profit of $12.6 million, or 12 cents a share. Revenue in the quarter fell 20%, to $323 million from $404.4 million.

#3-Shiloh Industries to close Medina County plant, eliminating 111 jobs

Shiloh Industries Inc. will shutter permanently its Liverpool Manufacturing Plant this summer, putting 111 employees at the Medina County operation out of work, according to a company filing with the state of Ohio.

Valley City-based Shiloh on Monday notified the state, via a required Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act filing, that it will close the plant. The company in March told the state that it was laying off 83 workers from its Medina Blanking Division, although those layoffs were termed “temporary.”

Shiloh, which primarily supplies U.S. domestic automakers and their vendors, has been hit hard by declining auto sales.

For full articles and more Angels & Demons type news, click here to visit Crains Business <—-

Articles above written by Stan Bullard, Dan Shingler

Akron-area home values keep sliding

Report finds 24.8 percent of Summit, Portage owners have negative equity

Published on Thursday, May 07, 2009

This article from http://Ohio.com is a bit of a micro-view segue from the previous blog article. Zillow has plenty of research and commentary to show how Akron Residential is slowly rotting from the inside, despite all the wonderful efforts of local business people. The local government needs to hopefully read this blog and many of the available resources out there screaming about the area needing help… anyhow… I digress… enjoy the articles’ worth content.

Beacon Journal staff report

Nearly a quarter of all homeowners in Summit and Portage counties owe more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth as values fell from a year ago, according to the latest research by the online real estate firm Zillow.

Home values in the Akron metropolitan statistical area — defined as Summit and Portage counties — fell 7 percent in the first three months this year compared to a year ago, according to the Zillow Home Value Index. The Zillow Real Estate Market Reports look at 161 metropolitan areas and cover the value changes in all homes, not just homes that have recently sold.

The average home price in the greater Akron area for the first quarter this year was $115,682, down 14.9 percent since the Akron market peaked in 2006, Zillow announced in a release Wednesday.

The results for Summit and Portage counties showed:

24.8 percent of all Akron-area homeowners now have negative equity, meaning they owe more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth. The local area still fared better than the nation overall, according to Zillow.

Homes in the Akron area lost $815.3 million in value during the first quarter of 2009, and have lost $3.2 billion in the past 12 months.

28.8 percent of transactions in the past 12 months were foreclosures.

• 8 percent of homes sold were ”short sales,” meaning the proceeds fell short of the balance owed on the mortgage.

Nationally, home values fell in the first quarter, declining 14.2 percent from the first three months of 2008 to an average of $182,378.

Declining home values left 28.9 percent of all American homeowners with negative equity by the end of the first quarter, Zillow said.

”Slowing declines in select markets are a bright spot or, at least, what passes for one given current market conditions,” Stan Humphries, Zillow vice president of data and analytics, said in a prepared statement. ”Unfortunately, given the magnitude of the current rates of decline, we’re still many months away from a bottom even as depreciation slows.”

The 7 People who You Will Lose Your Bracket Pool To This Year

The 7 People who You Will Lose Your Bracket Pool To This Year

I saw this article on Rootzoo.com and was cracking up because it has happened to me almost like a leap year…

zoolander

Anyway, I the story is below, but I wanted to highlight the author before the article. Click here for their link.

Introduction

It happens every year. You watch college basketball from Thanksgiving to Mardi Gras. You read every blog, know every stat and can name the 8th man on the 9th best team in the Horizon League, yet you never win your NCAA March Madness bracket pool. You always come away frustrated because your mom, Nancy from HR, Ted from Sales or one of these people beat you year after year:

Will you win or lose your bracket pool this year?

inspire-indifference

You may lose to one of these teams.

The woman who picks based on team colors

This person cannot tell the difference between Blake and Taylor Griffin, yet there red jerseys remind her of flowers so she picks them correctly in the Final Four. She hates orange because “my eyes never match anything I would wear that is orange”, so she always picks Syracuse to flame out in the first round. She eventually picks UNC to win the championship because “their blue color reminds me of, like, the sky and I, like, love to shop outside!” You find out she is ahead of you in the standings and pound your against your desk for a good twenty minutes.

The IT person who picks based on which mascot would win in a fight

While this person gets initially thrown off their strategy in the first round matchup between Davidson and Kentucky, they are back on track analyzing the strength of a panther versus the quickness of a Jayhawk. They spend too much time watching Animal face-off on Discovery and not enough time breaking down the penetrating offense of Memphis to be ahead of you in the standings. He teases you with questions like, “So is a Blue Devil a person or what?” Inevitably, they put the Panthers, Huskies, Demon Deacons and Golden Eagles in the Final Four and you realize all the time you spent listening to Hubert Davis was for naught. This makes you want to hunt down the nearest animal you can find and give it a good punt.

The HR employee who has their son or grandson fill out their bracket

Let’s face it; you are the most knowledgeable basketball fan in your office. You come in on Monday and ask your co-workers. “Did you see that Butler-Davidson game on Saturday?” This is usually met with a blank stare, “I was too busy catching up on Lost”, or “No, I was enjoying the outdoors.” What a bunch of losers, you think, and you are already spending the money you will pocket from your pool. However, the tournament rolls around and you realize that the nice old lady from HR is ahead of you and there is no way you can catch her. What is her secret? She more than likely had her son or grandson, who has the same lifestyle as you, fill out her bracket for her. She has an almost identical bracket to yours, with all the same teams in the Final Four and Championship. However, he was able to see that one Cinderella that you overlooked because he realized their three point shooting was deadly in stadiums that held more than 15,000 people, a stat you failed to overlook. You vow next year to break down every possible stat and get your revenge on that nice lady who validated your expense report last week.

The new dad whose newborn kid picks the winners

This is one of the worst because you are left with the realization that despite all the basketball you watched this season, you can’t even pick the winners better than an infant. This very happy dad puts the teams on separate pieces of paper and has their son/daughter pick the team out of the hat that he thinks will win. You laugh at his initial bracket because he has picked #16 South Alabama to beat #1 UNC in the first round. “I’m just in it for fun, my kid picked the winners”, retorts the happy father. You slyly walk back to your desk with a smile on your face that shows what a sucker you think this guy is. However, he gets the last laugh when you realize that lucky pick in 1993 of #15 Santa Clara over #2 Arizona killed your Final Four, while he is laughing all the way to the bank to deposit that money in his kid’s college account all while saying “I never watched a minute of basketball all year, not even the tourney. I spent all that time with my kid. Did I tell you he picked my bracket… and it WON!!” You plot to rob that bank to steal all that money but instead vow to find a wife to make your own baby for next year.

The accountant who bases his picks based on a certain criteria based on everything except sports

You look at this person as your most formidable opponent in your scouting report of the office. “I bet this person has an Excel spreadsheet breaking down every stat of every team and it spits out the winner for him! I bet he has some made up stat that nobody else has ever thought of”, you think. What you don’t realize is yes, he does have a spreadsheet, but no, none of the inputs has anything to do with sports. Student enrollment, number of famous alumni, endowment size and number of majors are just a few of the factors that his spreadsheets take into account when picking his final four. While he always picks the Ivy League participant to win their first round game, the rest of his spreadsheet is surprisingly effective at predicting the outcomes. “But where does the offensive efficiency of Xavier factor into his projections,” you wonder. You then conspire to plant a virus on his computer to destroy that program when you realize he can’t even tell you that mascot for Xavier.

The NBA addict whose NBA fantasy team picks the winners

This guy knows a lot about basketball, yet knows nothing about NCAA basketball. You always ask if he caught the game over the weekend but he simply replies with an ignorant remark like, “I only watch the best basketball players in the world play and you can only find them in the NBA. I won’t watch college basketball until they put the semi-circle under the basket.” He begrudgingly enters the bracket pool, mainly because he loves to gamble and wants to show everyone how easy it is to pick NCAA games. He bases his picks based on which colleges have the best alumni in the NBA. This means he immediately rules out Duke from the Elite 8 because of the failures of Christian Lattener and Trajan Langdon, while he picks Memphis to repeat in the Final Four because “Rose is my fantasy PG and he is putting up big numbers this year”. You scoff at his picks because he is picking based on players who are no longer playing at their respective schools. Before long, however, you realize that his picks are pretty spot on and he is ahead of you in the standings for another year. You vow to never watch an NBA game ever again.

The casual fan who copies his favorite analyst’s bracket

You wake up early Saturday every morning to watch College Gameday and see what color Digger’s tie and highlighter will be, what idiotic thing Hubert Davis will say and hope Bob Knight will forget where he is and start swearing like an angry contestant on I Love Money 2 about the lack of consistency in the block/charge call in college basketball. While Jay Bilas spouts the occasional good nugget about Siena’s star player that you tuck away for future reference, you realize most of the stuff they say is useless for your tournament bracket. Then comes the selection show that you have waited for since the buzzer sounded last April on Kansas’ victory over Memphis. The bracket comes out and you need some time to digest and pour over all the possibilities before you decide who will cut down the nets. You watch the end of the selection show and see Bilas, Phelps and Vitale give their projections for the tournament. You scoff as they have no seed higher than a #5 seed in the Elite Eight. “Take a chance! There’s no way the bracket will be chalk the whole way.”
You go to work the next day amid excited chatter about the bracket. You attempt to make conversation with someone about it who you find out “basically did Dick Vitale’s bracket because he likes Duke and I really like Duke..did you see them play last night? Kyle Sandler was looking nice.” You shake your head and walk back to your cubicle knowing that this guy has no shot of winning the pool. However, lucky for this guy, this is the one year out of 20 that no major upsets happen and Vitale’s chalk bracket ended up winning the tournament. Your hate for Vitale grows exponentially as you know he now cheated you out of a Blu-Ray Player.

Wrap-up

So which one do you think is the worst way to lose?

panty free

Have you ever been one of these people?
Lost to one of these people?
Recognize one of these attributes in someone?
Can you think of any others?
Leave some comments.

Hope you enjoyed.

All Boarded Up ~ Groundroots Fortitude!

TONY BRANCATELLI, A CLEVELAND CITY COUNCILMAN, yearns for signs that something like normal life still exists in his ward. Early one morning last fall, he called me from his cellphone. He sounded unusually excited. He had just visited two forlorn-looking vacant houses that had been foreclosed more than a year ago. They sat on the same lot, one in front of the other. Both had been frequented by squatters, and Brancatelli had passed by to see if they had been finally boarded up.

boston-foreclosure

They hadn’t.

But while there he noticed with alarm what looked like a prone body in the yard next door. As he moved closer, he realized he was looking at an elderly woman who had just one leg, lying on the ground. She was leaning on one arm and, with the other, was whacking at weeds with a hatchet and stuffing the clippings into a cardboard box for garbage pickup. “Talk about fortitude,” he told me.

In a place like Cleveland, hope comes in small morsels.

The next day, I went with Brancatelli to visit Ada Flores, the woman who was whacking at the weeds. She is 81, and mostly gets around in a wheelchair.
Flores is a native Spanish speaker, and her English was difficult to understand, especially above the incessant barking of her caged dog, Tuffy. But the story she told Brancatelli was familiar to him.
Teenagers had been in and out of the two vacant houses next door, she said, and her son, who visits her regularly, at one point boarded up the windows himself. “Are they going to tear them down?” she asked. Brancatelli crossed himself. “I hope so,” he mumbled.

Prayer and sheer persistence are pretty much all Brancatelli has to go on these days.

Cleveland is reeling from the foreclosure crisis. There have been roughly 10,000 foreclosures in two years. For all of 2007, before it was overtaken by sky-high foreclosure rates in parts of California, Nevada and Florida, Cleveland’s rate was among the highest in the country. (It’s now 24th among metropolitan areas.) Vacant houses are not a new phenomenon to the city.

Ravaged by the closing of American steel mills, Cleveland has long been in decline.

With fewer manufacturing jobs to attract workers, it has lost half its population since 1960. Its poverty rate is one of the highest in the nation. But in all those years, nothing has approached the current scale of ruin.

For the entire article, which is a great piece of journalism, click here.

Alex Kotlowitz teaches writing at Northwestern University and is a regular contributor to the magazine. His last cover article was about urban violence.