Here are the highlights of the second half of the basketball season:
2/4/18: No game. Alan’s team had the week off, but a play from the prior week — where Alan caught a hot pass from a teammate (Wyatt) and scored — was talked about by Alan and me all week. After I showed Alan video of LeBron’s game-winning shot to beat the T-Wolves at the buzzer on 2/7/18, Alan commented on how Jeff Green’s pass to LeBron was just like Wyatt and Alan’s play. After Alan shared his take on the play, it will likely now go down in family lore — just like the time Alan hit a baseball off the roof of the apartment. That happened last summer, but we talk about that like it was yesterday. 🙂
2/11/18 vs Thunder: Alan is miraculously held scoreless by the all-world Thunder D, but he impacts the game in other ways – most notably with his good passing. Alan brought the ball up the court and set up the offense several times in the game.
2/18/18 vs Cavs: Alan plays his best game of the season, highlighted by 4 made baskets! He scored once in the first quarter, twice in the third quarter (including at the buzzer), and once in fourth quarter. It was an intense game due to one kid on the opposing team being both too skilled and too physical for the league. Early in the third quarter, Alan got banged into by him. But Alan shook it off, stayed in the game, and went on to score 3 of his 4 baskets after getting hurt.
2/25/18 vs Lakers:
3/4/18 vs Celtics:
All of these games were 11:30am starts (first wave of games), so Alan wanted us to arrive before the rest of the team to practice on the open court. It was fun playing 1-on-1 with him!
Alan’s first season in the Mayfield LBJ basketball league is officially underway! Alan has worn his lucky Cavs Championship shirt to the first few sessions. It must be bringing him good luck because today he made his first ever shot on the big hoop!
My camera was fortunately in hand, so here’s his form on the shot:
Alan’s friends playing in the league include Noah, Grady, Anton, Joshua, and De’ Onte. Alan partnered with De’ Onte to work on bounce passes.
Alan and I put on our LeBron jerseys – circa 2008 and 2016 – and headed to the Q today to watch the Cavaliers take on the Hawks. Alan was content to buy popcorn and watch the whole first half from our seats. He cheered on LeBron — who finished with 26 points one game after becoming the youngest of seven players to reach 29,000 career points — and learned the names of the new Cavaliers.
We also explored the concourse and stopped over at the Wine & Gold United Headquarters. Alan found his name on the hardwood floor (all by himself) within the first “A” in the “All For One and One for All.” Only one name can be listed for each season ticket holder group, and after using my name last year, this year we used Alan’s!
Alan and I had extra quality time together this week with Mom going out of town!
Throughout the week, we reviewed schoolwork together (Alan loves sharing his take-home folder contents), and we read Alan’s new library book, Zak’s Lunch. We listened to Alan’s favorite CD in the car during every morning drive to school. And we certainly made time for fun, including playing our favorite games at home and playing with Alan’s glow-in-the-dark toys under the covers before bed. It was both a fun and productive week.
Mrs. Russo posted the following picture from class on Tuesday. Alan told me the class was playing a math game on their tablets. Alan’s wearing his Cavs championship shirt in the photo, since it was Cavs Day at Millridge. That night Alan and I watched the Cavs beat the Celtics at the Q to open the new season!
Today, before school, Alan and I attended one of our favorite events together — Donuts with Dad! Alan and I had our milk and coffee together (neither of us are donut-eaters) at the same table as Cassidy, Xavier, and their Dad. We also had our picture taken by a photographer. At Alan’s request, I wore my Ohio State shirt and Alan wore his Cavaliers championship shirt. Our photo turned out great!
With the Cavs being in the NBA Finals annually, we’re able to track Alan’s growth in relation to Finals signage. One of the perks of growing up an NBA fan in Northeast Ohio!
Today Alan and I kicked off the summer season of Sunday afternoon Indians games. We came straight from Alan’s baseball practice, so we didn’t arrive until midway through the game. Alan had only enough time for his favorite activities, which he decided were batting and sprinting.
We did stop inside the Kids Clubhouse for the quick photo opp below (Alan’s idea), two trips down the slide, and popcorn — which seems to have replaced the soft pretzel as Alan’s go-to ballpark food item.
Before long it was time to run the bases! Alan also took the photo below outside the Indians dugout.
In addition to getting our fill of baseball on this hot, sunny day, we also turned our attention to the Cavaliers. Both before and after the game we stopped for a few pictures with the NBA Finals signage. Go Cavaliers!
Note 1: Upon our arrival at the ballpark, we were greeted by a 443-foot foul ball off the bat of Encarnacion that landed about 15 feet from us outside the left field gate. We watched it sail overhead and land outside the ballpark.
Note 2: The NBA Finals games have been on too late for Alan to watch, but he’s aware the Cavs have reached the championship round once again. During the Eastern Conference Finals, Alan did watch the Game 2 massacre in Boston with me when the Cavs won 130-86 over the Celtics on May 19th.
Today we arrived for Chinese class early, so we did some sight-seeing on the mall area around Key Tower and Cleveland Browns Stadium. Alan loves seeing the Tower, whether it’s up close or from afar (He also went inside when he visited me at work to deliver Christmas presents when he was 3, but he doesn’t remember that).
It was a beautiful day in Cleveland – weather wise and sports wise. The Cavs began their title defense with a win over the Pacers in Gm 1 of their first round series, while the Indians beat the Tigers right next door.
Alan and I watched the Cavaliers beat the 76ers at the Q tonight! It was our 1st game of the regular season together and Alan’s second overall. He went to the Feb. 25th game vs the Bulls with Mom as well.
Alan watched a good portion of the second quarter from our seats and cheered every time that LeBron, Kyrie, or Love — his favorites — scored points or grabbed rebounds. Before that, he was busy taking pictures with them. 🙂
Other highlights of the night included taking in the sights around the concourse and stopping by the Wine & Gold United Membership area for stickers and photos. Alan loved wearing his LeBron jersey, which I bought him after he became a member of the Cavs Kids Club this year!
Today was another centers day for Kindergarteners — the first after busy season at work for me — so I jumped at the opportunity to drive Alan to school and spend the morning with him and his classmates!
It also happened to be Sports Day at school, so Alan and I both went in Cavaliers attire. During bellwork, Alan had to write and answer the following questions in his journal:
- What is your favorite sport?
- What is your favorite team?
- Who is your favorite player?
Alan responded with “baseball,” “Indians,” and “LeBron James.” All very understandable answers!
When it was time for centers, I manned a station with a math game. The kids rotated through in groups of three or four. Alan was in a group with his best friends Xavier and Grady. I loved how all three kids combined to cover the Cavaliers, Indians, and Browns with their shirts.
Side note: Alan ended up winning the math game. Later in the day, when I called Alan after he got home from school, he revealed to me that he thought he won because he was wearing his Cavaliers championship shirt.
After the math game, Alan and his friends rotated through other tables that involved puzzles, coloring, and drawing. At one station Alan drew a plane and a truck (specifically a Target truck) that he gave to me to take home. Obviously I loved it.
At the conclusion of centers, I stayed with Alan as the kids ate their snacks, then left for work afterwards. I would’ve stayed for the whole day if I could have!
This afternoon, thanks to Alan, we got to take a photo with the Larry O’Brien trophy! The photo opp was made available to members of the Cavs Kids Club (NOT Wine & Gold Members like me ha) following the Cavs’ annual Wine & Gold Scrimmage at the Q.
During the scrimmage, which we watched from the Club level, Alan cheered every time Kyrie touched the ball, Love made a 3-pointer, or LeBron (DNP) was shown on the scoreboard. Those three players are easily the three most recognizable athletes to Alan, since he saw them on TV quite frequently last season.
Overall, it was a great trip to the Q for Alan – his first since January 2013. The sound was a bit too loud for Alan’s liking, but he did have his favorite salt-free soft pretzel that made him quite happy. The best moment was when Alan saw the court for the first time. He described it as “Awesome” in his most excited voice. 🙂
LeBron has a running mate on Alan’s bedroom wall now: Alan’s second favorite player, Kyrie Irving!
Today Alan and I showed off our Cavs gear at the Unity Days parade. So many people were decked out in Cavs gear! This whole weekend it’s been hard to find anyone not supporting the World Champs. What a time to be a Clevelander!
It really happened, and Alan has the evidence to prove it: The Cavaliers are the 2016 NBA Champions!!
I’m glad I set my game-watching plans to be at home with Alan. It was definitely worth it, as he was great company for the occasion. And the cars driving on Mayfield road that honked their horns until about 1am did give Mayfield Heights a downtown feel!
Earlier in the series Alan also watched Game 3 with me (another Cavaliers win), making us 2-0 together for the series. He watched part of the 1st quarter at Debbie and Papa’s house during Games 1, 4, and 6 too. He regularly tuned in to see his favorite player, LeBron James, before going on his nightly adventures with Lulu.
Alan’s interest in sports continues to grow and I love it. I really hope that as time goes on Alan will retain memories of watching Game 7 with me. I certainly won’t forget watching with him. Sharing that championship with him at my side is one of the greatest moments of my life.
I still cannot believe how perfectly yesterday played out. What an amazing day. I hope the partying in Cleveland never stops!
6/22/16 Update: The partying has not, in fact, stopped yet. Robbie, David, and I joined approximately 1.3 million others in attending the Championship parade today! It sure was not easy getting there. After finding RTA was delayed by at least four hours by 8am, we took a bus from Cedar and Green to E. 110th, then walked the final four miles to downtown. But it was worth it. We stood at E. 9th and Lakeside across from the Jones Day building for the whole parade, which lasted about 4 hours – mainly because the cars had trouble maneuvering through the encroaching crowds of people! Below is one photo I took of LeBron riding by (he’s in the upper left, with the backwards yellow hat).
Father’s Day 2016 was simply perfect. It featured great moments with Alan and it may very well go down as the best day in Cleveland sports history.
The day started with Alan giving me a card and making me coffee, and it continued with Alan accompanying me to an Indians game. As we approached the ballpark with other Indians fans, we passed Browns Backers who were tailgating on surface lots (just because). We also saw Cavaliers fans already claiming their Watch Party seats for Cavaliers-Warriors Game 7 in the parking garage across from the Q. There was definitely a festive Cleveland sports atmosphere that encompassed all of our teams. I had to stop and take a picture of Alan in the Cavaliers fan zone outside the Q (pictured below).
On the way into the ballpark, I took a picture of Alan next to the Jim Thome statue (pictured below). Once in the Kids Clubhouse, Alan played with his usual favorite red car, the trains, and the roller coaster toy — which he rode approximately 15 times. But he also added a new green tractor to the playing rotation (pictured below).
We had some extra time to play because not only did we arrive early, but also the game went into extra innings. So Alan ventured back to the big kids area of the Family Deck, after getting his feet wet there last time. Alan took swings in the caged mini-field and hit a double in his only at-bat (pictured below). He also ran a simulated race four times. The fourth run came immediately after the ballpark erupted on Jose Ramirez’s GW single in the bottom of the 10th, which gave the Indians a 3-2 win.
After the exciting finish to the game – and the customary playing of “Cleveland Rocks” – Alan ran the bases on his own. Afterwards, we stopped for our annual Father’s Day photo/seflie (pictured above). Alan was his happy and silly self as usual. 🙂
On the way home we made a quick stop to see Robbie, Tata, and Papa so that Alan could play his rescue game. After exchanging some well wishes for the Cavaliers, Alan and I went back home to watch our team in Game 7 of the NBA Finals (How awesome is that to write!). With Alan watching and cheering by my side, of course the Cavaliers delivered a long-awaited World Championship back to Cleveland!
What a day and night with Alan – the best kid a dad could ever ask for and the true reason I got to celebrate today. Father’s Day is my favorite day of the year, and this one may very well go down as the best I’ll ever have.
For the first time Alan is able to recognize a professional athlete: LeBron James. Alan likes to listen for LeBron’s name when I listen to sports radio in the car. So we decided to stick the LeBron “Fathead” pictured above on Alan’s bedroom wall. Go Cavs!