Alan and I had a blast together during the Cavaliers 2018 postseason run, culminating at the NBA Finals. During the playoffs, we raised the banners posted at the Cavaliers website following each victory, and advanced the Cavaliers along in our playoff bracket with series wins over the Pacers, Raptors, and Celtics. Alan especially enjoyed the city’s spirit for the Cavaliers. He made sure to point out “Whatever It Takes” signs and Cavaliers window displays around town. For Cleveland kids like Alan, all they know is winning basketball and championship-level enthusiasm in Cleveland!
Alan and I took full advantage of the NBA Finals in Cleveland this week. After I went to Game 3 on Wednesday, I took Alan to the Game 4 Outdoor Watch Party tonight!
Upon arriving downtown we headed straight to the surface lot across from Harry Buffalo, where Larry Nance (Sr.) was scheduled to sign autographs. I had also met Mark Price there on Wednesday (photo below) and I was all for meeting another member of my favorite childhood team — the 1992 Cavaliers. Alan was familiar with the name, as he remembered our prior conversations about Larry Nance Jr. joining the team this year.
To pass the time, Alan shot baskets on a mini hoop with a boy named Hank. While Alan was shooting, amazingly, Larry Nance snuck up behind Alan and blocked his shot, adding “Get that weak stuff out of here!” Alan wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but I explained to him that was who we came to see!
After the block, we got back in line, got an autograph, and took a photo with Nance shortly after.
Before leaving the table, Alan made a Cavs sign. It featured LeBron making a game winning three pointer in a 103-100 Cavaliers win over the Warriors. 🙂
Next we went back to shooting, since Alan could not get enough of the mini hoop. He made a fair amount of shots, and after a while, we were both pretty good at it actually. It took some persuading, but eventually I convinced Alan to head over to the Gateway Plaza to see the Cavaliers-sponsored Fan Fest.
We took a neat photo from the 4th floor of the Gateway garage before participating in the festivities. Down below, Alan found a new hoop to shoot on, as well as a hockey slap shot game and Cavaliers Jenga game that we enjoyed.
Eventually we made it to the grass in front of the big TV just in time to watch the Cavaliers starting lineup being introduced (which Alan is very familiar with now!).
We watched a little bit of the first quarter action, but Alan wanted to head back to the mini hoop we shot on earlier in the evening. On our way back, we ran into LeBron. 🙂
And we took Alan’s annual photo with NBA Finals signage!
Once back at the original hoop, Alan and I shot and shot…and shot. There was also a TV there, so we knew what was going on with the game. We left for home at halftime, but Alan probably could’ve stayed there all night!
When a Cleveland sports team needs a kid in its starting lineup, who better to turn to than Alan? He did it with the Indians in 2017, and he’s now done it with the Cavaliers in 2018!
I had registered Alan for the drawing to be in the Kids Starting Lineup for a playoff road game Watch Party at the Q prior to the start of the playoffs. As part of the application, I had to write a few paragraphs as to why Alan would be a great selection.
As the playoffs went on, I had actually forgotten about the application – until I was contacted by the Cavaliers via email following the Game 7 win over Boston. As if we needed more reason to be thrilled about the Cavaliers’ victory, this certainly provided another reason to celebrate! If I had to pick any Watch Party for Alan to participate in, Game 2 of the Finals is what I’d have chosen. It was great timing (on a weekend) AND Alan would get to run out before a near-sell-out crowd.
Coincidentally, I had already purchased four tickets for the Game 2 Watch Party before knowing Alan would be a part of the festivities. Shane and I have gone to the Game 2 Watch Party all four years of the Cavaliers’ NBA Finals streak, so I knew we’d use two of the tickets. It worked out well that Alan and Veronica could take the other two.
We arrived at the Q just before 7pm, about an hour before tip-off. We met a Cavaliers rep at the bottom of section 126 by the scorer’s table. She put us in one of the floor boxes while we waited.
Note: I later realized that we appeared over Jeff Phelps’ shoulder throughout the Cavaliers pregame show on Fox Sports Ohio. I caught that after watching the recording later that night.
After all five kids arrived at the floor boxes, they called the kids out to the court for a practice run-through around 7:30pm.
At this time, I didn’t know which starter would be Alan’s assignment. But while Alan was on the court, I saw Alan was third in the order, which meant Tristan Thompson. I happened to catch a Tristan graphic up on the Humongotron at about the same time.
After practicing, Alan returned to the floor boxes and confirmed he was assigned to be Tristan Thompson. Just before 8pm, the kids were called back into position in the corner of the court, where they watched Sir CC and Whammer attempt backwards, half-court shots (Whammer actually sunk one).
Note: The next day the Cavaliers posted a video of Whammer on social media, and I was briefly shown behind Whammer, taking pictures of Alan. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type — especially considering that Whammer hasn’t been around for 20 years!
As the kids got ready to go on, parents were allowed to step onto the court just to the right of the scorer’s table. Veronica, Shane, and I got into position with our phones ready to go. The Cavaliers in-game entertainment team went through the usual run-up to introductions, which included Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight and of course the national anthem. Soon after, the lights went off, the Cavaliers video intro (Finals version) played, and PA announcer Sean Peebles announced the lineup as the kids ran through a lane of mascots!
It was awesome being on the court for the first time and getting to watch Alan enjoy himself in the spotlight.
After all five players were announced, Alan huddled up with kids and mascots alike (photo taken by the Cavaliers). Later I asked Alan what was said in the huddle, and he responded with “Go Cavaliers!”
After all the excitement, we went up to the Wine & Gold United members section at the Huntington Club Level. The adults got some free food set aside for WGU members. Alan opted for a soft pretzel and popcorn at the concession stand instead.
Alan stayed at the Q until halftime, and then left for home with Veronica, as it was pretty late by that point.
Here is the on-court video of Alan!:
6/9/18 Update: Alan received a voucher for a free Cavaliers jersey for participating in the Kids Starting Lineup. Today I cashed it in for a Nike Swingman LeBron jersey!