This is the first of a few posts we will have today describing our best live experiences seeing the Cleveland Cavaliers. SB Nation is doing one of our theme days, so feel free to check out other communities to see what their writers have to say.
The Cleveland Cavaliers played the Toronto Raptors, a team that would go on to miss the playoffs, on a snowy winter night, February 3, 2009. The Cavaliers were at their zenith. On their way to 66 wins, this 101-83 laugher was all but decided in the first quarter when LeBron James scored 16 points. Or at least, I think it was 16 points. It's been five and a half years now, and details fade a bit.
It was the best NBA game I've ever been to. I had never been to Quicken Loans Arena before that night. The easiest explanation for that is that I was a broke college student who grew up in Toledo and didn't have a dad that was particularly interested in the NBA. Tigers games? You bet. Browns games? Plenty. The Cavs? Nope. But this being the first one I made it to isn't what makes it the best. Saying that, I'll never forget seeing the pregame introductions for the first time. The Cavaliers, obviously, do an amazing job with them. It was incredible to see in person for the first time.
What made it the best, though, was the company I kept. I went with one of my uncles. Now, I have a great relationship with this uncle. He's my godfather, and we get along great. My dad was never into the outdoors, or particularly into building or constructing things, so when it came to shooting off rockets or camping or building wooden ships or Michelangelo nunchucks, this uncle was there for me. I loved going to his house.
At the same time, and some of you might have family like this, we just don't see each other that often. He lives literally three blocks away. It's not his fault, it's not my fault, it's both of our faults and it's no ones fault. People are busy. I tell him I'll email him to set up lunch and then I don't. It happens. I wish I and we were better. Hopefully we can be soon. The one time that we have always been good about getting together is for my birthday. I share the birthday with his wife, and growing up we always went out to dinner. Well, in January of '09 we met up for a nice dinner and he gave me a card.
Cavs tickets. And he had gotten a room downtown for us to stay the night. And a couple of his college buddies would be going as well. His company had seats at the time, so I knew they would be good. This happened to be my 21st birthday, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to be one of the guys. One of the guys watching a juggernaut Cavs team. One of the guys spending time with my uncle.
We were probably 25 rows up above the Cavaliers bench, As stated above, the intros were incredible. We ate at the House of Blue before the game and I pretended I knew how to order a drink. I listened to my uncle and his friends talk about their college days at Bowling Green. We watched LeBron explode in the first quarter. I explained to my uncle and his friends just how good Chris Bosh was. It was a game that I'm sure the players just saw as another weeknight February matchup in the cold. But for me, it was one of the coolest things I've been able to experience.
I have been to quite a few games since this night, of course. But I always force myself to think of the people at the Q for the first time. Who might be there with family, or with a close friend. Sports, at their best, are about community and giving people a reason to come together and have a good time, regardless of anything else. I'm not sure anything will ever beat my first trip to see the Cavaliers play. And that's okay.