Wine and Gold Annual Meeting: Brown Wins Over Fans
I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural Wine and Gold Annual Meeting last night. After I left the event, I felt much more confident about the direction the team is heading in and the people leading them. The meeting was held at the Renaissance Hotel and was open to Wine and Gold United members (aka season ticket holders) only.
As soon as I walked in I saw a piece of the new floor. The Cavs decided to give their fans the opportunity to get their name on the floor much like how the Browns allowed fans to purchase bricks with their names on it in front of the stadium. I wasn’t sure how it was going to look, but they found a cool, clean way of incorporating all the names without cluttering the floor.
Next came the interactive voting. Everyone was given a sheet with 5 items to vote on including the opening day t-shirt and a bobblehead. For the bobblehead, fans had to choose from Earl Clark, Alonzo Gee, Jarrett Jack and Tyler Zeller. Due to the fact that Zeller is basically my taller twin brother, I was happy to see him win the vote.
We also voted on halftime entertainment, ice cream flavors and which burger will be featured by the B Spot in the Q. I was a little disappointed that the unicycle-riding-while-flipping-bowls-on-her-head-woman wasn’t a choice. That woman is a legend. Instead you will see the XPogo Stunt Team.
Now let’s talk about the main event. Dan Gilbert (Majority Owner), Jeff Cohen (Cavs Vice Chairman and Minority Owner), Nate Forbes (Cavs Vice Chairman, Minority Owner, and the “Tan Man” according to Dan Gilbert), Chris Grant (Cavs General Manager), Mike Brown (Head Coach) and Len Komoroski (CEO of Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena). Each of them got up and gave a quick speech, starting with Dan Gilbert.
“The last 3 years, as you all know, have not been easy at all…. Unlike other businesses where you can make a quick decision if you need to, when it comes to basketball, as far as improving your team you really only have 3 ways to do it.” He went on to explain how difficult it can be to change your team through free agency, trades and through the draft. I thought it was interesting to hear Dan compare the Cavs to his other businesses like that. At any point in time, he can make a quick change in personnel or philosophy. In the NBA you are limited to a couple months in free agency, one night for the draft and the near impossible task of successfully executing a trade.
Gilbert went on to talk about how he, along with Nate Forbes and Jeff Cohen, brought Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Anderson Varejao and Jarrett Jack to Detroit on Tuesday and spent 24 hours with them. They took the time to get to know they players better and help them become better businessmen. He talked about how they had them participate in “Cavs Tank” modeled after the popular NBC show, Shark Tank. They assigned $150,000 of fake money to each player and had people from real start up businesses do pitches for them. The person that got the most money from the players got a set of prizes from the Cavs. I thought it was a creative way to reach out to the players while still helping the community.
Chris Grant got a chance to address the crowd and really did a great job of answering questions from the fans instead of dancing around without saying anything. He talked a lot about how active the players and coaching staff has been this off season. They brought on additional coaches to help players that were in different states and even countries. For example, Kyrie went to South Africa for 7 days this summer and requested to have a coach with him the whole time. Dion Waiters is a new dad and chose to stay in Philly to be with his family. He also requested to have a coach and trainer with him in Philly as he prepares for the upcoming season. I love to hear stories like that. It shows me that these guys are learning from their mistakes in previous seasons and realize what it is going to take to improve.
As expected, Grant was asked a couple times about Andrew Bynum and his timetable. He explained that Bynum is about 9 weeks into his rehab program and is sticking to the plan. He has begun some one-on-one drills, but he is still a ways away form 5-on-5 basketball. “We’re still learning. He didn’t play basketball for a whole year, so it’s not only getting back healthy with his knees, but playing basketball again.” That was really the only line of the night that expressed any kind of concern with the team. Grant gave us some encouraging news when he said that Bynum weighed in at 308 lbs. when they signed him, and he is now down to 285 lbs. The effort and drive is clearly there, but we will just have to wait and see if his body can hold up.
Mike Brown was the man of the hour. He got a standing ovation from the crowd when he walked on the stage. Maybe it’s just me, but the front office treated Mike like he was a hero during last nights event. They are “all in” on Mike and they have high expectations. “Don’t get it twisted,” Brown said, “I am not coaching this team to make the playoffs, we’re coaching to win a championship.” Now you might say, “duh, that’s what he is supposed to say” and you’re right. However, the message from everyone last night was very clear: making the playoffs will not qualify this season as a success. Their goal is to advance in the playoffs. This was so much more encouraging than last year’s message. I don’t know how many interviews I heard or read about with Grant saying that last year’s expectation was to be competitive. I love how Gilbert is demanding results for this season.
The most interesting question of the night came from “The Sign Guy”. He asked Coach Brown how he is different from the Mike Brown that was here before. “M.B. 2.0 is more mature, confident and more seasoned. I hope, I think, I know is a better coach than what I was not only on the floor, but off the floor also. There is a lot that I have learned in the last couple of years, so very good, very confident going into this year with this group.”
Follow Josh Lockwood on Twitter @RCFJLockwood