We must talk sports and cartoons for a moment.

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Tonight, the NBA Finals begin. That’s not related to film, television, or pop culture, I know. Well, it is something happening in primetime on ABC, I suppose. If this isn’t relevant to your interests, I might suggest scrolling to the next section of today’s column. For those who stick with me, I’ll make it brief and Looney.

“We’re not scared of Cleveland. They’re not the Monstars. They’re not on ‘Space Jam.’”

This comment was given by Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland.com during the Eastern Conference Finals. Those who follow basketball will note that Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers did, in fact, come out and Monstar the Celtics (for the most part) to earn their way into the NBA Finals. It’s a quote that’s stuck with me, mostly for crossover appeal, but also because of how wrongly it paints the Cavs as the bad guys in this story. It’s often a matter of perspective. To Isaiah Thomas, Lebron is the big bad. For Cleveland fans, Lebron is Michael Jordan playing with a bunch of cartoon animals in an effort to save the world from evil (in this case, evil is played by the Golden State Warriors).

What should everyone else think? Especially those who will be sucked into the NBA’s most dramatic two weeks because someone in their vicinity got ahold of the remote control. I’ll admit my bias up front — I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. But allow me, for a moment, to make the case for why the Cavs are not the Monstars, but the heroes. Last year, they came back from an enormous 3-1 deficit to defeat the Warriors. It was a miraculous, unexpected outcome — the kind of “against all odds” ending that you might find in just about any sports movie ever. But what happens when everyone comes back for the sequel? The Cavs return and once again they are the underdog. Why? Because Golden State went out and absorbed more NBA talent in the signing of former-MVP Kevin Durant. Like the Danny DeVito-voiced Mr. Swackhammer, more talent had to be acquired so that the entire NBA can be dominated, stolen, and made to perform on Moron Mountain in perpetuity. Or something like that.

The Cavs were never the Monstars. They are the Looney Tunes. Counted out, overmatched, and led by a hero of the people, Lebron James. Everyone is picking against the Cavs, but like the original Space Jam website from 1996, they keep hanging around. Here’s hoping they find a bottle of “Michael’s Secret Stuff” before it’s too late.

Today in Pop Culture History

On this day in 1926, Marilyn Monroe was born.

Eleven years later, Morgan Freeman was born.

In 2008, this day was the day in which a fire broke out on the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot, destroying the clock tower from Back to the Future.

What You Need to Know Today

The new Transformers film is not 3-hours long, despite reports.

Hailee Steinfeld is in the discussion to star in a Transformers spin-off titled Bumblebee.

Underworld director Len Wiseman is working on a Sin City TV show.

ICYMI

We published two fascinating takes on the Alien franchise this week, one video essay about trauma and a written essay by Jake Orthwein about the link between Covenant and the 1979 original.

Our Danny Bowes has solved the problem with movie theaters and sexism.

One Perfect Pod’s Shot by Shot followed the adventures of Dr. Jones, discussing The Perfect Shots of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Shot of the Day

A little too on the nose, perhaps.

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