Pearls & Vodka

What if you could control the destiny of your coworkers?

What if you controlled someone else’s destiny?

Can you imagine if the CEO of your company came to you and said, “Hey, I know you don’t LOVE all your coworkers. If I promise to get rid of the folks you don’t like, and bring in people you do like, will you be more engaged and invested in your job?”

What would you say?

A similar conversation took place in Cleveland last Wednesday.

Koby Altman, the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, sat down with superstar Lebron James and said basically that same thing.

Altman had noticed, which it’s been hard to miss, how Lebron seemed indifferent towards the team and their play on the court. This attitude change was not reminiscent of the Lebron Altman, and the world, has grown to love. The old saying goes, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

But in Cleveland, “If Lebron ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

And with that conversation began the frenzy of trade deals from Cleveland.

This conversation was not the first of it’s kind with Lebron, and likely will not be his last.

Back during the summer, Lebron was asked to guarantee one season past the 2017-2018 season to land the standout player, Paul George. In the end, the Indiana Pacers secured George, and not Cleveland. The offseason dismantled the on court relationship of Kyrie Irving and Lebron James, sending Irving to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas. The rumors were that Kyrie was tired of living in Lebron’s shadows.

Everyone in Cleveland is focused on July 2018.

Lebron becomes a free agent.

Will the hometown boy leave again? Will his jerseys be burned in the streets again?

With a divided locker room and an unhappy superstar, things were not looking good for Cavs.

Altman did what his star wanted. He started making deals.

He got rid of Isaiah Thomas, IT hated being talked down to by Lebron. The cohesion never came to fruition. And then there was the trade of Dwayne Wade. Lebron’s best friend. His teammate from the glory days in South Beach. Lebron wanted young talent around him, so he left the decision up to D Wade, who chose to go back to Miami.

There were rumors of deals with the Clippers, but in the end, the trade was made with the other Los Angeles team, the Lakers.

Everyone in basketball believes that the Lakers are trying to make salary room to sign Lebron this summer. The Lakers agreed to trade Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. in exchange for IT, Frye and the Cavs 1st round draft pick in 2018. Deals started rolling in for Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade from the Utah Jazz, who had every intention of waiving both players, and the Sacramento Kings in a three way deal. The wee hours of last Thursday morning, the players involved changed before Altman’s very eyes. Altman was furious, he had his sights set on DeAndre Jordan.

The deal was not complete without one more chat with Lebron.

Altman needed his star player’s assurance that they had his permission to send Wade back to Miami to make room for the Jordan trade hoops they were jumping through. Pat Riley wanted Wade back home and there were no objections from D Wade either.

As Thursday came to a close, Thomas, Frye, and Shumpert were headed West and D Wade was back in South Beach.

And now the entire Cavaliers roster looks different.

Some say that’s basketball for you. Others call it the lay of the land in professional sports.

But there are some who may call it insanity.

One man controls the destiny of an entire team of others.

One player, albeit an amazing one, calls the shots for an entire organization, top to bottom.

Want to know the craziest part?

Lebron could still go elsewhere in July.

He’s done it before, and he could definitely do it again.

Cleveland’s hold on Lebron will depend on how this season finishes. If he sees another ring in sight with this new roster, he could stay. His kids are already enrolled in school in Beverly Hills, and his hair line shows, he’s not getting any younger. Having the chance to win another championship, with a 3rd team, and restore the dynasty to one of the most storied franchises in NBA history might just pull him away. You can bet, the Lake Show will be calling.

Last Friday night, after the dust had settled in Cleveland, the Opening Ceremonies kicked off for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

I love the Olympics. I’d buy the entire Ralph Lauren Team USA line if my wallet could afford it.

The Opening Ceremonies did not disappoint. There were some oddities though, as usual. Having the sister of Kim Jong Un sitting directly behind the Vice President of the United States was an odd feeling. Seeing the athletes from Russia being called the “Olympic Athletes of Russia” was also a new look. The Russian team is being punished, for lack of a better word, for their recent doping scandals and therefore they are not able to raise their flag, or play their anthem, when, and if, their athletes win. The simply compete as the OAR and if they win, they play the Olympic Anthem and raise the Olympic flag. It seems an odd punishment to me, although I know the athletes love representing their countries and seeing their flags and hearing their anthems, at the end of the day, the athletes still get their medals to hang in their own homes.

Team USA won their first medal with 17 year old, Red Gerard won gold in the snowboarding Slopestyle event. Gerard had fallen in his first two runs, but landed an epic backside triple cork 1440 to vault from 11th place to 1st place. I can’t tell you exactly what all that move entails, but I can tell you I looked incredible and I cheered in my living room when he landed it the final time to win his medal.

Chris Mazdzer became the first American to win an individual luge medal when he sledded his way into a silver medal over the weekend. Jamie Anderson repeated her gold medal performance in the snowboard Slopestyle event. Having won gold in Sochi, Anderson was faced with one qualifying round being cancelled due to high winds. However, heavy winds did not phase her, she scored an 83.00 in her first run and that score was never beaten. And Adam Rippon delivered a perfect figure skating routine to a Coldplay song. He came in third place, but won the hearts of millions around the world as Team USA’s first openly gay member to compete in the Olympics. His performance transcended the ice. For the first time in the history of American figure skating, Mirai Nagasu landed a triple Axel at the Olympics and it was incredible.

And the YOLO flip.

Shaun White secured his third gold medal last night while all American Olympic fans held their breath.

In October, White crashed while attempting to learn the YOLO flip, which is technically called a cab double cork 1440. He suffered a gruesome injury that required 62 stitches to his face and five days in the ICU. His family and friends encouraged him to retire, but the quest for his third gold was unstoppable.

There were many who were unhappy with White’s gold medal placement last night. There were fans of 19-year-old Ayumu Hirano who just two weeks ago landed back to back 14s and planned to do the same in South Korea. Hirano did just that with his second run and jumped ahead of White in the medal standings. White landed his third run, his best run in his career following Hirano’s run. As Hirano turned to the score board his silver medal fate was sealed.

And then there was the #metoo movement.

Team USA’s female gymnasts were not the only team riddled by sexual misconduct allegations.

In the summer of 2016, Lena Zawaideh, the drummer in Shaun White’s band, “Bad Things” filed an amended complaint to a civil suit in San Diego alleging that White had sent her “sexually explicit” text messages that were graphical in nature.

White admitted to this behavior.

In February of 2017, White requested the judge have Zawaideh undergo a mental health evaluation. But three months later, White and Zawaideh reached an undisclosed settlement.

There are two stories that were told on this issue, and somewhere in the middle lies the truth.

But for today, Shaun White has won his third gold medal after failing to make the podium in Sochi.

On another note, for all you baseball fans, the first MLB workout of the season begins today. Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday and their first workout is today.

Baseball is back!

Most position players report Sunday or Monday and the first full squad workouts begin on Tuesday the 20th.

As baseball season gets underway there are still some big name players without a team to call home. Cubs former ace, Jake Arietta, along with Eric Hosmer, and J.D. Martinez are among the 100 something players who still have not found an employer for the 2018 season. Former Dodger and Ranger, Yu Darvish signed this week with the Cubs adding some star power to the bullpen. And as a Cubs fan, I say “Hell Yeah!”

For all you bandwagon fans of baseball, we will see you in October when it’s World Series time. For the rest of us who truly love the game, go grab your favorite beer and snack and get ready for the Spring Training games. Next Friday at 3:05 p.m., I’ll be listening to the Cubbies playing the Brewers.

Here’s hoping for another World Championship run by the boys in blue from Chicago.