Friday, September 30, 2005

Danny Boy

The Cavaliers had one underlying theme for Thursday's "town hall" meeting at Quicken Loans Arena, starring Danny Ferry and attended by yours truly:
"Service with a smile."
It's very, very Dan Gilbert. Very, very "please stay on the line, your call is important to us."
Corporate America has arrived for the Cavs, and it only starts with the new arena name.
Last night's event had the feel of a shareholders' meeting where they get to grill the CEO. Except the fodder was lot more exciting.
We start with the bare concrete floor of The Q, which had been turned into a giant reception area. Three basketball hoops were set up and one end for the kids, and for adults who fancy themselves pro hoopsters who just never got their big break.
So you could bomb three-pointers on the floor of The Q. Pretty cool, huh? But that's not all. The remainder of the floor was a giant advertisement for Mercedes-Benz, with model cars shined up and glowing in the arena lights. Take a seat, won't you? Sign up to win one. Get yourself on a mailing list.
Even for us peasants who would need a winning lotto ticket or large inheritance to afford one, they looked tantalizing, expecially when you toy around with the GPS map system in the dashboard.
Around 6:30, Danny Ferry appeared and cut a tall, clean-shaven image above the rest of us who don't stand 6'-10". The several hunderd fans who showed were herded into two sections of stands, while Ferry sat down on a small stage in front.
Smiles. Smiles for Cavs/Quicken Loans Arena President Len Komorowski, who introduced Ferry. Smiles for Cavs' spokesman Tad Carper, armed with a microphone for inqusitive fans.
Tonight, before the heat of the season begins, it was all about pleasing the customer. Admit it, if millionaire athletes and executives pander to you, you'll take it.
As would be expected in an event designed to be a love-fest, Ferry answered questions like a politican, jumping all over the softball lobs, and dancing around the ones he'd be better off not answering.
"How many games do you think the Cavs will win this year?" from a child.
"Well, I'd say at some point, we're probably going to lose a game," Ferry said.
Ferry said he thinks, with the acquisitions made this off-season, the Cavs can be "one of the better teams in the NBA." When asked if he thinks the Cavs can contend for an NBA title this year, he said "I don't think that's our main focus. Our focus is on making a big step."
The toughest question asked of Ferry was among the first, when a fan near the back of the stands asked what Ferry, personally, was going to to do ensure LeBron James never leaves Cleveland.
Ferry talked about creating a winning environment, an exciting environment, one that LeBron will want to be a part of for years to come. He said he also feels LeBron's standing as native son will help the Cavs' cause.
"He's from around here. I believe he wants to be here," Ferry said.
And, if you were wondering, I did ask a question. I'm a newspaper reporter, after all. I can only contain my questions for so long.
I asked two, actually. I asked Ferry how his previous involvement with the Cavs as a player affects him as a GM, and if Luke Jackson would be ready for camp after missing the bulk of last season with a back injury.
On the subject of Jackson, the answer is yes. Ferry said Jackson has been going full tilt playing basketball all summer and is ready for camp.
To the other question, Ferry also said yes, noting that he knows a lot of people, from accounting to sales to basketball operations, who also worked for the Cavs when he was a player. It has helped his adjustment to become the Cavs' GM, he said.
After Ferry got done speaking, he, along with players Drew Gooden, Eric Snow and Ira Newble, mingled, signed autographs, and helped eager kids with their jump shots.
Right now, smiles and signatures are good enough. Right now, the Cavs are undefeated. The real heat, the stares of critical eyes, start next month when the Cavs open camp.
Ferry knows it. Based on last night, I think he's looking forward to it.

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