Mike was in attendance at the Wach tonight with his notebook in one hand and his "I (heart) LeBron" poster in the other. Check after the jump for his first-person report. (kidding about the LeBron man crush, btw).
- There was a playoff atmosphere outside the Wachovia Center tonight.
There was a block party and the complex was pretty crowded with the
Phantoms playing the last regular season game ever at the Spectrum
next door. And yes, as expected, plenty of red & yellow Cavs jerseys.
- With LeBron in town, hundreds of people arrived early to get a
glimpse at a real superstar. There is definitely a market for
basketball in this city. Unfortunately it only presents itself for
marquee opponents like the Cavs, Lakers, & Celtics. Brian joked the
other night that the Sixers were intentionally losing. An 8th seed
and resulting 1st round date with the LeBrons are the only way they
will sell out any playoff games. Selfishly, I'd like to see LeBron in
some live playoff action too. After this supremely disappointing
week, they might as well give us something to look forward to along
with the inevitable 1st round sweep.
- It's a ridiculous spectacle watching LeBron during warm ups. He
throws up 5 underhanded half court shots which properly engages the
crowd, almost as if he's sticking to a script. Then he shoots (and
misses) a bunch of 3's. Then the dunking starts. The loudest
response arrived with his last dunk, a between the legs throw down
that was a preview for what everyone came to see. You can't help but
draw comparisons to Jordan, where every single person in the arena is
glued to your every step. But even Jordan wasn't this much of a
showman (I mean, the game hadn't even started yet). Whether that's an
admirable trait is up to you.
- As to that last point, a good number of Philly fans don't think it
is. I was glad to hear booing during LeBron's ridiculous ritual after
intros where he snaps the imaginary camera at all of his teammates.
The booing grew even louder after he claps powder into the air at the
scorer's table. As disgusted as I was knowing that everyone in the
place was only there to see LeBron, it made me proud as a Philly fan
to know some people just want to see a basketball game without all the
theatrics. I will admit though, the showmanship does add something to
the drama of the evening. Chalk this one up to ambivalence.
- There were pretty loud boos for Sammy during intros too.
- Danny Ferry, the Cavs GM, spent nearly the entire game sitting next
to members of Delonte West's family. At one point he made his way
over to Sidney Lowe, the current NC State coach, who had seats about
15 rows up behind the Cavs bench. Cavs' rookie JJ Hickson played
there for 1 season, which is the only reason I can think someone like
Lowe would be at the game. Temple star Dionte Christmas took his seat
a few rows in front of Lowe after halftime.
- The blast from the past highlight on the jumbotron was an homage to
Dana Barros, who had some record of consecutive games with a 3. I
couldn't help but think at this moment that this franchise is
completely fucking delusional. Despite being much better than the
squad they trotted out in the mid-90's, this version of the Sixers is
just as irrelevant. And it doesn't seem like anything is going to
change in the near future. As a resident in center city, I will tell
you apathy towards the 76ers is probably at an all-time high.
- I don't know if it was a coincidence but I stopped taking notes
around this point. Tonight's game reminded me of the loss to the
Hornets, where we stayed within striking distance to a far superior
opponent. But no one in the arena really felt like the Sixers were
ever in the game. They didn't play badly, but they didn't do anything
all night to ever make me think they were going to win. They are
certainly not doing a good job of drumming up interest as the playoffs