And at the heart of our new center-ness...a basketball game. I mean, an important one for sure. Not one of those pick-up deals with bottomed out milk crates stapled to walls or rims so beat up that they angle towards the Earth.
No, this game would be played at Quicken Loans Arena. The home of a new, gigantic, above the court TV; the largest in the NBA. The home of a court painted to resemble the Cleveland skyline and morph 3-D when programmed. The home of Dan Gilbert, a hometown hero who also, maybe, sort of, kinda, aided in the bankruptcy of America...but whatever. SPORTS.
This was the game that American Royalty would attend. Beyonce and Jay-Z and Kevin Hart and Geraldo Rivera (sure, fuck it, why not). Justin Bieber was there. Usher was there. Michael Strahan was there. Someone said they saw David Beckham. No word on Posh.
This was the game that Kendrick Lamar (holder of Mosby's best album of 2012 award for Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City) and Imagine Dragons would play a free concert for. That Kevin Hart would make a somewhat surprise appearance for (I have no idea if he actually showed up at the concert or did jokes or anything. I didn't stick around long enough). That a robot from Fox would appear for.
But this was more than that. This was more than basketball.
This was the game that Nike would hype our city for.
This was an obscene, Sodom and Gomorrah moment for an otherwise humble city. It was a chance to push our excesses and acknowledge that we too like to do dumb shit and button up our shirts and pretend we're cool. It was a chance to wait in lines and randomly shout things at passerby. It was a chance to get day drunk and stumble through the city, petting horse-cops and flipping the bird at anyone in a New York Knicks jersey...or was that just a blue shirt? Eh...GO CAVS! SPORTS.
This was a mass of humanity mounted at the gates, scuffling together to try and squeeze through six metal detectors while strangers rifle through the stuff in our pockets. This was pompous douchebags pushing past an elderly couple who stopped to pick up their tickets (which had slipped from their aged hands). This was me pushing pompous assholes and telling them to fuck off.
This was a pre-game that included celebrities photoshopped into Cavs gear. This was Nike provided confetti bags ("Wait and see what they're for!" the announcers tell us. Of course, the bag reads---and I'm paraphrasing---"Commemorative confetti. Open bag. Place confetti in hands. Join LeBron James in his chalk toss." Not a huge mystery there.) This was light up sticks and cameramen yelling at people to put on Cleveland Clinic provided Cavs T-shirts ("I'm already wearing a Cavs jersey. It's the same color." Cameraman: "DO NOT CARE. PUT ON THE SHIRT FROM OUR CORPORATE SPONSORS.")
This was a stirring national anthem sung by a pandering Usher, who sang at one of the slowest paces I've ever seen. Dude was really soaking in the moment.
This was....holy shit. Was that him? Is this really happening? SOMEONE HIGH FIVE ME. SPORTS.
This was breathing lightening.
This was losing by 6 to a team that won't make the playoffs.
This is driving home.