For five decades Scott Raab served as our tortured sports surrogate — wavering between guarded optimism and impending dread. And thanks to his appearance in ESPN Films’ Believeland documentary, that’s the case now more than ever.
So with seconds remaining in the NBA Finals, the 63-year-old Raab and his 17-year-old son, Judah, sat at downtown’s Wild Eagle Saloon watching LeBron James crumble to the floor at Oracle Arena after being fouled by Draymond Green. He couldn’t shake the dread.
“He’s going to come up with a bone sticking out of his wrist,” Raab remembers thinking. “I’m much more experienced at seeing the worst than anticipating something
Raab, who recently retired from a 19-year stint at Esquire, gives us his take on the improbable title, what it means to the city and more.
On Game 7: Being the age I’m at and the disposition I have, it was hard for me to anticipate joy. I wasn’t imbued with a great sense of positive energy. Here comes another bitter Game 7 with a hideous, last-minute ending. I was surrounded by a lot of ecstatic people whose belief never wavered. I’m still kind of floored by the reality of it.
On his son: I told him as long as he wasn’t a New York Yankees fan I didn’t care who he rooted for. When Trent Richardson was a rookie with the Browns, Judah wore his jersey. Living in New Jersey, he caught his share of grief.
On his emotions: I’m kind of a crusty guy, but I’m not the toughest cry in the world. At the watch party, there was a guy from Wooster around my age who I talked with. In the immediate aftermath [of the game], I was holding him and he was shaking hard.
On his new book, You’re Welcome, Cleveland: How I Helped LeBron James Win a Championship and Save the City: The universe provided me with this ending. All I have to do is convert this assist LeBron James has given me.
On the importance of a title: I’m not a sociologist, but I think this is more important for the people who are growing up [in Cleveland] now, people who are not carrying the loser baggage of 52 years. This is about home, myth and all the things that make me feel connected to something bigger than myself.