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Comedian Would Give Up Cleveland Sports Jokes For A Cavalier Championship


Fans in Cleveland are eager to dash the Warriors' hopes. Cleveland's last title was in football, an NFL championship in 1964. And the city's sports fans took a gut punch five years ago when hometown basketball hero LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, saying it simply a gave him a better chance to win. Now LeBron is back in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers are on the edge of glory. To find out how Clevelanders are handling it, our own David Greene checked in with Mike Polk Jr., a long-suffering fan and comedian.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: Mike Polk Jr. is famous for videos like this one, where he is standing outside the Cleveland Browns' Stadium letting all his frustration out.


MIKE POLK JR.: Listen, I know that there are way more important things in life than football, but you are supposed to be our pleasant distraction from those things. But all we do is pay you money to put us in a bad mood every week. You are a factory of sadness. I'll see you Sunday.

GREENE: So that's football. When it comes to basketball, five years ago when LeBron James left Cleveland to go play for the Miami Heat, Mike Polk Jr. wrote him a little song.


POLK: (Singing) It's just as simple as this - LeBron James is a...

GREENE: And Mike Polk Jr. is on the line with us. Mike, that - that's mean.

POLK: Yeah, yeah, nothing but class there, Dave.

GREENE: (Laughter).

POLK: Who hasn't done something like that when you're a jilted lover? Am I right?

GREENE: (Laughter) So is that the relationship you have with LeBron James?

POLK: It's more one-sided than anything. I don't know if he reciprocates.

GREENE: Well, have you taken your lover back?

POLK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it was right away. I didn't even pretend to, like, hesitate for a second.

GREENE: And is that an indication of your feelings towards him as a player, or your desperation to get a championship in Cleveland?

POLK: It's a combination. But honestly, more than anything, I believe he grew up considerably in Miami.

GREENE: Well, on a serious level, I mean, has he grown into a real leader for both the franchise and the city of Cleveland? Are people in Cleveland looking to him in that way?

POLK: They always have. The difference is he's ready now. That was the problem. You know, we were looking to him like that when he was a 20-year-old kid. And no matter how big and strong you are, you're not mature enough to lead at that age. You just haven't experienced enough. And now he has, and he's back, and he's making these kids play better than they are.

GREENE: After everything sports fans in the city have been though, how much is riding on this?

POLK: Well, I hesitate to say that because I think that the nation in general has this feeling that we're all just sitting here crying and having candlelit vigils until our next championship because it's an easy sports story that I think a lot of people try to use. But the city itself, you know, even though we're feeling really good about our chances and what not, everyone here is pretty steeled and prepared. In case you haven't noticed, we've been forged in fire. I mean, we've really seen a lot of misery and loss. And one more notch on the belt isn't going to break anybody around here.

GREENE: So I know you're saying that it's for all of us out there in the country, we're going to lose our narrative if Cleveland actually wins this championship. But, you know, given the factory of sadness, given, you know, that we're playing your song about how much you hated LeBron on the air, does it mess with your identity as a comedian a bit if you get this championship?

POLK: I would love to have that storyline taken away. I would love to not have the ability to make fun of our sports teams. Fortunately, even if the Cavs do win, I will still have the Browns. And I think that I will always have the Browns. We do have Josh McCown starting at quarterback as of right now, and he's just turned 48, I believe. So I don't think we're in any great danger of winning a Super Bowl anytime soon, but I would gladly forsake sports Cleveland jokes if it meant that we could get a championship.

GREENE: Mike Polk Jr. is a comedian and a long-suffering, but still hopeful Cleveland sports fan. Mike, enjoy the NBA finals, and we'll talk to you on the other side.

POLK: Keep the faith. Go Cavs.

SHAPIRO: That was David Greene. And this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro.


And Ari, glad to have you on the show this next week.

SHAPIRO: Thanks. It's nice to be back.

MONTAGNE: And, of course, I'm Renee Montagne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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