INDEPENDENCE - The lights went out at Cavaliers media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts, but that's OK. There was more than enough energy to light up the joint.
Between Shaquille O'Neal's fun-loving shenanigans, Mo Williams' claim that no one on the team can beat him in a game of pool (including LeBron James), and James' decision to yell, "Media day is OVER!" when the gym went dark ... well, there was plenty to keep everybody entertained.
Oh, and rumor has it Shaq playfully mooned a TV crew prior to a sit-down interview. (I can pretty much confirm the rumor, but prefer to leave the rest to your imagination.)
What does it all mean?
It means the classiest organization in Cleveland is still down-to-earth enough to make you want to cheer it on.
It also means, if nothing else, O'Neal will be the Big Comedian in a sports town that could desperately use one. As he told Cleveland reporters, "I'm still the funniest man in the NBA."
Most of all, it means the Cavs are relaxed, ready and willing to build on everything they accomplished last season. Only this time they want to finish the job.
Interestingly, most of the Cavs weren't talking about a championship at media day. And that makes sense. They talked about winning titles at each of the previous two, and just look at where it got them. Great seasons, yes. Championships, no.
Talk, they seem to have figured out, ain't gonna get it done.
"In the past couple of years, we've learned how hard it is to win a championship," GM Danny Ferry said.
So Ferry added the big man with the big personality, and a few other lesser-known (but important) pieces -- like free agent shooting guard Anthony Parker and forward Jamario Moon. And Parker and Moon walked around media day wearing the large smiles of men who had just been handed a free pass to enter pro basketball paradise.
Ferry described his off-season moves as "adding some physicality and versatility," which will give the Cavs "more of an opportunity to play small-ball" and also "go bigger" if the need arises.
Williams even envisioned a time when Shaq and Zyrdunas Ilgauskas might be on the court at the same time.
"Me and LeBron joke about it a lot," Williams said. "But we could probably get away with (Shaq and Z playing together) against some teams. I wouldn't expect to see it a lot, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it a little."
Shaq himself put it in simpler terms, saying that he and Z form the best center in the NBA.
Of course, before the lights went out, most of the discussion centered around how good it felt to be in the presence of a Cleveland team that didn't stink. Or more accurately, a Cleveland team that has a legitimate shot to win it all.
Then again, that was just the media talking.
The players mostly spoke of how much fun they are having just being around each other, how well they fit together, how they are like one big family. They indicated no one player ever acts better than the others -- and how no one player should ever feel left out.
That includes shooting guard Deltone West, perhaps the best example of how approachable and well-mannered these Cavs have become. He may be the nicest, most regular guy in Cleveland sports history.
And that is why it's so hard to picture him being pulled over by police a few weeks ago, carrying a couple firearms while speeding on a motorcycle. But it happened, and West will soon have to deal with the consequences. Whether the punishment is handed down by the judicial system or the NBA (or both) remains to be seen.
Either way, West has his teammates' support.
"This is his safe haven," Williams said. "When he's in this gym, around us, it's like therapy for him. If he wants to talk about it, then yeah, we're here. That's the thing about this team. We're in it together."
That said, Williams preferred to keep things light, continuously insisting that he's beat everyone on the team in pool. But that was news to fellow backcourt-mate Daniel Gibson.
"Oh no he hasn't," Gibson said with a grin. "He hasn't played everyone. That sounds like a challenge to me. Tell him I accept."
Sort of like the entire team is doing with the challenge of winning a championship. Even if no one is really saying as much just yet.Sam Amico covers the Cavaliers for NBA.com and The Cleveland Fan.