Dion Waiters made the rounds in the visitors clubhouse at Progressive Field, shaking hands with each of the 25 students from the Cleveland Baseball Federation, then grabbed some popcorn and plopped down into a recliner to watch the film ''42'' about Jackie Robinson.

The Cavaliers mercurial shooting guard and WKYC Ch. 3 anchor Russ Mitchell teamed up Tuesday to host the first event this year in the Cavaliers' annual Black Heritage Celebration during Black History Month. It was, Waiters admitted, a welcome change of pace after a week's worth of controversy surrounding his struggling team, which has lost five straight and is 16-32 heading into Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers at The Q.

"I love doing stuff for the kids in the community,'' said Waiters, who was excited for the students to learn more about Robinson. "He was able to change the game -- change the world, too.

"It's great for kids who don't really know a lot about history. There's so much you can learn. You learn about it in school, but there's so much that they leave out. If you go back and watch movies, it shows you about a guy who faced so much adversity but he didn't let it break him.''

Waiters, of course, is no stranger to adversity. He was asked to leave practice last week because of a poor attitude and has been mentioned in trade rumors most of the season, talk that has only increased with the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaching.

"I don't worry about that stuff,'' he said of the trade rumors. "If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. If not, it's not. I can't control that. It's out of my hands.''

He said he's trying to take things day by day, approaching each practice and game as a chance to get better.