Today Alan and I watched the Cavaliers eliminate the Pacers with a hard-earned Game 7 victory at the Q! It was Alan’s first playoff game for any sport.
I made the decision to go to the game late on Friday night and bought tickets off of StubHub. When the Cavaliers’ NBA-record streak of 13 straight close out victories ended in a Game 6 loss that night, I was disappointed the streak ended but also thrilled that Alan and I would have a chance to witness a Game 7 together during one of the greatest eras in Cleveland sports history. I was confident LeBron James wouldn’t lose a Game 7, and the rare 1:00 PM Sunday start time – our designated time for sports – made me feel like it was meant to be.
This morning while driving to the arena, Alan and I listened to his Kidz Bop playlist after I figured out how to play it through the car speakers. It got us ready for the game! After parking and walking across town, we got to the Q about 20 minutes before tip-off. Upon entering the arena, I noticed we walked underneath a mural of the Richfield Coliseum – the venue where the Cavs last played a Game 7 at home on May 17, 1992. In that game — also played on a sunny Sunday afternoon like today — the Cavaliers would beat the Celtics 122-104. Even though I was 9 at the time, I remember it clearly to this day. With Alan being near that age, the symmetry was apparent to me.
After entering the arena, Alan wanted to go straight to our seats. He was pleasantly surprised to see black shirts and white towels that read “Whatever It Takes” waiting for us on our seats. We watched the players warm-up until it was time for tip-off! Alan enjoyed the atmosphere in the arena — I warned him it would be the loudest he’s ever heard the Q because it was an elimination game — and he waved his towel excitedly as the game got underway.
Note: While learning about the concept of an elimination game, Alan was relieved to find out that whoever was eliminated today would be allowed to play again next season.
Alan watched the game intently from our seats for the first quarter-and-a-half. The Cavaliers jumped on the Pacers out of the gate and led for that entire stretch. When Larry Nance Jr. checked into the game, I enjoyed telling Alan that I watched his Larry Nance Sr. play when I was Alan’s age.
About midway through the second quarter, Alan was ready to take a walk. We stopped at the team shop and another souvenir stand, where I let Alan pick up a few items — including a foam Cavaliers sword to go with the foam shield that he got last game. We also stopped for popcorn and water. We took our time eating at a table by a TV, and by the time we got up again, the third quarter was underway. The Pacers briefly took the lead while we were walking, but it was so short-lived that Alan did not notice.
When we got back to our seats, the Cavaliers were on top 75-74, but Alan wanted to see a bigger lead. He kept calling for 3-point shots by the Cavaliers. Kevin Love obliged at the beginning of the 4th quarter, when he made a pair of big time threes and a clutch two with the game still hanging in the balance. Alan and I loved it! Quickly the Cavaliers had a comfortable lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. That allowed us to enjoy the rest of the game relatively worry-free — and with lots of high-fiving.
Note: Alan also got to learn about the concept of fouling out, since two Pacers fouled out in the 4th quarter. He got a kick out of it each time it happened.
When the final seconds ran off the clock, the Cavs were 105-101 winners!
We stuck around for a bit before leaving the Q, just enjoying the moment. We took one photo together inside and one last photo of Alan outside in front of the “Whatever It Takes” countdown on the Q’s windows.
Alan was pretty tired after experiencing the intensity of a Game 7, and he fell asleep on the ride home. When we got home, we took stock of all that we acquired throughout the afternoon. Not bad!
4/30/18 Update: Alan told me that today during journal time his classmate Ryleigh read her entry aloud about watching Game 7 on TV with her family. Alan said he then proudly told everyone that he was actually at the game and that Mrs. Russo was jealous of him. Alan’s own journal entry wasn’t about the game though. His journal entries on Mondays are always a recap of his Saturday nights playing with his cousins!