Wrapping up our look across the shootyhoops landscape, with Ohio State’s East Region. Don’t forget to get your picks in for tBBCBC before tip-off tomorrow- we’ve also linked to our “Impressions” of some of these teams from earlier in the year.
This is my worst nightmare.
A bit of a confession… I was a North Carolina fan as a kid (not living in Ohio), and loved Jordan, Perkins, Worthy, and Dean Smith basketball. Then, to make things worse, I did a grad degree in Lexington and worked with the athletic tutoring program during the Pitino/Mashburn era… yup, I was around for “The Shot“. Add to that some family in West Virginia (it’s all relative), a six year stint in Seattle, and the fact that I’ve finally come to my senses and follow Ohio State full time and this year’s East Region is a personal history of my career as a fan.
In addition to that, it’s got to be the most difficult region in recent memory. We talked about this in this week’s tBBC Radio Hour, but I’ve got to agree with Jeff Rapp’s assessment that this one is “loaded up”:
Yeah, it’s a tough region. But I’m a tough guy, so here’s what you need to know…
By now you’ve seen it several hundred times. LeBron James burying a buzzer-beating three-point shot to win Game 2 and save the Cavaliers season.
The BBC and many others have quickly labeled it as “The Greatest Moment In Cleveland Sports History”. But is it truly? I’ve spent 36 hours, since the shot went through the rim, debating that very topic. Frankly, I can’t find another moment that would top it.
Yes, I do believe that Cie Grant wrapping his arms around Ken Dorsey and forcing an incomplete pass to win the 2003 Fiesta Bowl (and the National Championship) for Ohio State to be the best moment I have ever experienced in sports….but that’s not Cleveland sports. It’s Ohio State, and many Clevelanders adopt OSU as their second home, yet that moment is not a Cleveland moment.
So, can you find a better moment in Cleveland history? Here’s a few of my personal favorites;
All of these moments are legendary in Cleveland. But do any of them really top what we saw two nights ago?
To be truthful, that hasn’t fully been determined yet. If the Cavs go on to win the series and the Finals, yes. Without a doubt. But as was the case with most great moments, they were wiped away when the corresponding Cleveland team failed in the goal to win a title.
If LeBron James wants his moment to live forever the way it should, he needs 7 more wins to do it.
Tonight, Mr. James, you can defend your moment. Beat the Magic and continue that goal.
Of course, this is strictly my own list, but here’s my Top 5 favorite LeBron moments of this season;
December 25, 2008 – vs. Washington
At home for Christmas Day, Cavalier fans decided to give LeBron a present of their own. As LeBron approached the scorer’s table to launch his traditional rosin into the air, he was greeted with a surprise. Hundreds of fans immediately surrounding him threw glitter and confetti into the air in unison with James.
James later admitted he didn’t know about the fans’ present to him.
April 12, 2009 – vs. Boston
Early in a crucial game vs. Boston, Ray Allen runs out on a fast-break against the Cavs. LeBron James trails the play, and as Allen goes up for the layup, James smashes the ball against the backboard. The Cavaliers had already led the game 16-6, and James’ incredible block sparks another major rally, as the Cavaliers flex their muscles continuously throughout the game. After James’ block, the Celtics would score only 3 more points in the quarter, as Cleveland opened up a 38-11 lead before Boston knew what hit them.
April 18, 2009 – vs. Detroit
In the opening game of the playoffs, LeBron stood tall in the first half, scoring 22 points to lead the way. But it was his final three points of the half that would have fans and players dropping their jaws in disbelief.
Detroit struggled to stay within striking range, and managed to keep the margin at 9 points (54-45) when Rip Hamilton buried a jump shot with 2 seconds left in the half. LeBron quickly raced up the left sideline and was fed the ball at the three-quarter spot of the court. He took two quick dribbles, then launched a running jumper from half-court. After the ball left his hand, James followed it down the court, where it banked off the glass and through the rim as the buzzer sounded. The arena erupted, and James stood stoic as his teammates celebrated.
Detroit never recovered from the shot, as Cleveland went on to an 18-point win a a 4-0 series destruction of the Pistons.
January 23rd – at Golden State
Playing at the Oracle Arena is never easy, even if Golden State has a bad team. This night was no exception. The Warriors and Cavaliers took turns with scoring runs, and the game stayed close throughout the evening. But Stephen Jackson wanted to make sure Golden State prevailed, as he buried his team’s final 6 points, including a 23-footer with just 6 seconds left to give his team a 105-104 lead.
Cleveland called a timeout with 4.7 seconds left and inbounded the ball on the left sideline.
You-know-who got the inbounds pass, and the rest is history;
February 20, 2009 – at Milwaukee
I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years. LeBron James felt the hot hand and he took advantage of it. He just couldn’t miss.
With 11:30 to play in the third quarter, the Cavs trailed by four points, 57-53 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Then it happened. If you were watching, you’ll never forget it.
11:26 – LeBron pulled up from 15 feet and buried a jump shot.
10:47 – LeBron brought the ball upcourt, and hits an uncontested 3 from 27 feet out.
10:22 – LeBron again brings the ball upcourt. Richard Jefferson shadows him defensively. James fakes left and dribbles right, and pulls up for a 26-footer. Nothing but net.
9:51 – Following an offensive rebound, LeBron stops his dribble on the left wing. With Jefferson in his face, he pulls up for a three-pointer from five feet behind the line, and buries it again.
9:29 – As if he was playing Playstation, James decides to try another long-range shot, this time from 30 feet out. It goes in.
9:10 – LeBron dribbles inside and is double-teamed from 18 feet away, so he pulls up for a fadeaway jumper, and sinks it again.
The reaction by Cavaliers announcers Fred McLeod and Austin Carr are priceless. McLeod’s screaming of “It is not FAIR” summed up the whole night.
What is often overlooked is that if you stretch time back into the late stages of the second quarter, James actually scored 22 points in a 3:30 minute span….he buried two treys with less than a minute left in the half.
James scored 55 points on the night, but his display of 16 points in just 2:16 was legendary. Those couple of minutes sealed his MVP award, and it sealed his place as our #1 moment of the year for LBJ.
Quick non-Buckeyes note…I’m a HUGE fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers (and everything else Cleveland, mind you). I want to point something out that I’m going to update all year long.
2005 – First home game against Washington – Cavs won 114-99
2006 – First home game against Washington – Cavs won 97-94
2005 – Road game against San Antonio – Cavs lost 76-102
2006 – Road game against San Antonio – Cavs won 88-81
Two games into the season, already an improvement. Game three is tonight at Charlotte (we won 103-91 last year). I call a 55-60 win season.
Now LET’S GO BUCKEYES!!!!!!!