What a fabulous day!
It’s not often you get to visit your old town, have your pops treat you to a delicious P.F. Chang’s dinner, then finish it off by seeing your favorite basketball team inch one step closer to the NBA Finals. It’s even more rewarding when your team beats the greatest player on the planet to do so.
Living only an hour or so from Amway Arena, I could not pass up the opportunity to see Orlando’s playoff run in person. Father of sportschump and I had planned on going to the game together but as he started a new job the following morning, it was time to go solo. He’ll be sorry he missed this one as it was a game worth quitting over.
Prior to game time and after leaving dad, I stopped off at my old watering hole, Wally’s, one of the last great dive bars in Florida. At Wally’s, you’ll hear the jukebox play everything from Prince to Patsy Cline, from Johnny Cash to Jay-Z. It’s the kind of place where everybody knows your name… likely because they’ve had to call your ass a cab as you stumbled out of there.
An hour or so later, ticketless but bourbon-full, I looked up at the graying sky and wondered how the inclement weather would affect my opportunity to find a ticket. Either scalpers would be out there in their little galoshes trying to move tickets as quickly and as sketchily as possible, or they wouldn’t be out there at all. Fortunately, scalpers follow the same credo as our postal workers, neither rain, nor sleet, nor needy fan.
Just before game time, the rain let up a bit. Time to make my move. It stopped just enough for me to get downtown, park my car, and walk to the arena to find my much coveted ticket to Game Four, a pivotal game in the series. Things were falling into place. A win for the Magic would put the Cavs on the brink. A win for Cleveland would deflate Orlando’s Finals hopes. I was fortunate enough to get into the building for $100, not bad considering I had heard you couldn’t find anything less than $250. It immediately began to pour once again. I sprinted inside smiling, raindrops falling on my ticket.
My seats weren’t exactly nosebleeds but let’s just say Stuff, the Magic mascot, would have needed a lenient baseball drug policy to reach my section with his t-shirt launcher.
I was curious to see how the Magic, and their fans, would respond when facing possibly the biggest game in the franchise’s 20 year history. Prior to tip, the P.A. announcer said that Charles Barkley thought Magic fans weren’t loud enough to be a factor. Apparently we fail to show the same enthusiasm he did when throwing a fan through a Church Street bar window.
The place was packed with little room to maneuver. Back in the day, Brotha E, the Don Calvino, Nigeria and I would regularly score lower bowl tickets and wander from seat to seat as we pleased. But back then, the Magic weren’t two wins away from the Finals. These are not your daddy’s Magic. The Barkley quote set the crowd off from the onset and, except for the lulls from the occasional LeBron three-pointer, we were raucous. I pride myself on my ability to view sporting events impartially but I attended this game as a fan. And it was riveting.
Orlando got off to a fast start but no lead is ever safe with King James in the building. He’s averaging 40 plus per this series. The game was a see-saw battle as it has been all series long. The Magic led by eight with four minutes left in the first half, only to allow a Cavalier 21-7 run.
The air was slowly starting to come out of the Amway Arena. Perhaps Barkley was right!
Then Rafer Alston scored seven straight points to start the second half and all was right with the universe. Cleveland led the entire third quarter with the Magic only down by one going into the final period. The NBA should have issued a health warning before this series. Pregnant women or anyone with a heart condition, please abstain from riding this ride.
Another amazing Alston run (seven more points in 2 minutes!) and the Magic were up by eight. Then again came the Cavs. A LeBron free throw put Cleveland up by one until Rashard Lewis hit one of those series-saving, “Okay, you can take those whenever you like from now on” three-pointers. After a Mickael Pietrus foul, LeBron went to the line for two free throws and an opportunity to send the game into extras. I shouted “YOU AIN’T MICHAEL!!!” at the top of my lungs. Doubtful he heard me as he calmly sank them both, the last one rattling out…. then in.
As you know, the Magic went on to win an overtime thriller, outscoring Cleveland 16-14 and narrowly avoiding another devastating LeBron three-pointer at the buzzer. LeBron scored thirteen points in the final seven minutes but it was not enough. Orlando is now miraculously one win away from the NBA Finals. Fans poured out of the arena, sifting through the puddles as chants of “Let’s…. Go… Mag… Ic!” echoed for blocks. The city is in disbelief. Nobody expected this.
The Master of Panic is now one step away from redemption, his team playing inspired, confident basketball. Their screen and rolls are perfect. Their jump shooting is pinpoint. Their defense is consistent. The Magic had five different players score in double digits Tuesday. They shot 50% from the floor which means they were getting quality looks… and making them. And they forced LeBron into eight turnovers.
Orlando, the most unlikely of candidates, is now one win away from their first Finals appearance in fourteen years. Those in the locker room believe they can do it. So do I.
Well at least the ref let Howard pound those Cavaliers when it needed to count on that overtime. They need to finish it tommorow nite so this old man can get some rest baby. Magics ,Nuggets my pick.
PK… Still the best pour in Florida. Even better than Lil’s.
Agreed, Angel. The Magic can not sit back and expect victory in Game Six. They need to go up there and try to close Cleveland out. It won’t be easy.
By the way is not a miracle the way the Magics are playing is call team effort and determination. Basketball is a 5 player game not a one man show baby. If you dont believe it ask Kobe what happen to him when Shaq Attack left Los Angeles no more championships since.
Que rico, Angel. The River gonna let you out of the office for a game?
It’s well worth the price of admission.
The Lettuce Wraps rock at PF Changs. Why do the Magic make the tickets so ugly? The Lakers are real purty.
A dive bar? Sounds like fun…nothing better than slumming it every now and then!
You know, it’s not fair that the Marlins won, the Gators won and now the Magic may win. Give some other fans a chance here Chris! 😛
Well it goes without saying that the game and the aftermath of this all hasn’t sat well with the Cavs or their fans.
So as it now stands all that there’s left to play for is pride for the Cavs.
Well I don’t know what’s going on over at Fox. But it appears it’s now gone to hell in a basket.
My latest piece is up with thebasketballoracle should you be interested ? In order to view just click on the text below.
We’re All Vulnerable Some More Than Others ……. tophatal ……………
Lisa Lise… my only guess is that the Magic couldn’t have in their wildest imagination guessed the team would fare so well. I mean, come on, I’m a fan and there’s NO WAY I would have predicted them in the Finals.
To set the record straight, Dad had eaten only hours earlier so we skipped the lettuce wraps which are normally a staple. We went with the Chang’s Spicy Chicken and the Mongolian Beef. I’m still convinced they put crack in their food.
And Wally’s is an Orlando icon. You’d love it. Although you’d likely know more about football than anyone in there… which I guess is true no matter what establishment you walk into.
Tophat… I’ve added a link on my blogroll page to the Oracle. I plan on posting something on Fox, not saying goodbye, but officially announcing the launching of http://sportschump.net.
Good call. You reminded me to check out the Cleveland newspaper online. Must do that now to bring a smile to my face. Be right over to check out your link.
Remember, man, that last victory is the most difficult to get. Let’s not count chickens just yet.
Chris aka sportschump
The last victory needed is as such the hardest at times to obtain. As normally you’re thinking as to what lies ahead for the team.
And that’s where the Magic need to not become complacent about in thinking that they now have the series won. It’s not actually won ’til that final whistle is blown and they look up at the scoreboard. And seeN that ultimately they’ve secured the victory.
As of now however I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Cavs are just now playing for pride and self esteem.
They’ve not got what it takes to pull off the series win. LeBron’s not got the tools to assist him in that endeavor. Mentally his castmates aren’t up to the task . Much less physically as we’ve borne witness to. If Pietrius can come off the Magic’s bench and completely outscore the Cavs’ bench all by himself. Then that in ofitself shows how bad this Cavs’ bench really is.
This is my latest within the basketballoracle. In order to view just click on the text below.
Dan’s Got To Do What Dan’s Got To Do ………
I do like where Stan has this team’s mindset.
I’ll like it even more if he can get them to close Cleveland out sooner rather than later.
A day late and over $60.00 short. Nothing to good for the Sportschump! Wally,s -like father, like son. Sorry I missed the game, but I predicted the outcome. Next time, you pay.
Casillero del Diablo on me.
Thanks again. Love to Max and see ya’ soon.
Chris aka sportschump Well things haven’t started off too well for the Magic. They seem to be struggling with the Cavs and the presence shown by them in the 1st quarter.
Hopefully they can turn things around ? As I’d hate for them to allow the Cavs back into this series through their own complacency.
Strange as it may seem I’d like to this series actually be closed out tonight. Allowing LeBron and the Cavs back into this series could have some serious ramifications.
I’ve a new piece up on former high school phenom Sebastian Telfair and his career in the NBA thus far. It seems somewhat strange that he was being hyped up the way that he was.
As it is his career has yet to pan to represent anything meaningful at all.
In order to view just click on the text below.
Whatever Happened To …Insert Name Here ……………
As and when you’re ready I’ll look forward to reading your comments.
As usual thanks for the support it’s greatly appreciated !
Chris aka sportschump Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned last night. As the Cavs came out and leapt on the Magic like a lion does when it gets a hold of its prey.
It wouldn’t at all relinquish its grip on the Magic’s throat. Even though the Magic did manage as such to fight back with a gallant effort. Alas it wasn’t to be ! So here’s hoping that they can make amends tomorrow night.
Down 22 to catch up, take the lead then lose.
Cleveland finally ran their offense like they should have been doing all series.
Should I be worried?
Chris aka sportschump
You have every right to feel worried . Especially when one looks at the box score. You then realize that only Pietrius is the only guy on the bench who’s actually contributing for the team.
And other than Howard and Turkoglu. Only three guys got into double figures as far the team’s offensive output is concerned. And then take into account the 11 turnovers and that’s a genuine recipe for disaster.
I’ve my own take on it as well as a piece on Sebastian Telfair. What the hell ever happened to that kid ?
Reports Of Our Imminent Death Were Vastly Exaggerated ……….
Whatever Happened To Insert Name Here …………
I’ll look forward to reading your comments as and when you’re ready.Enjoy the weekend .
Im not concern with the victory by Cleveland due to the fact the we coming Home . However the pressure is on the Magics to closed it out.
Gee, Al. Thanks for making me feel better.
Angel… where ya’ watching the game?
Chris aka sportschump
I’m of the opinion that the Magic can win the series outright. But as I pointed out earlier it has to be a team effort and not just about the likes of Turkoglu and Howard.
Albeit that Lewis has flitted in and out of games. If they’re to win then the triumvirate have to perform as a cohesive unit. And most of all Howard has got to watch himself and not get into foul trouble. It tends to render his game somewhat as he then tends to struggle.
Well with the Lakers now making it to their thirtieth NBA finals appearance. One can only hope that the matchup desired doesn’t prevail. But then again who knows ?
I definitely want to see how the Lakers’d handle the Magic in the finals.
Here’s my latest within the forum .
So What Now For Phil ………..?
Al… I’m beside myself.
Stan Van Damme had a great game plan. Every possession in the first quarter went through Dwight and he made them matter.
That was a beatdown.
Still trying to digest it all…
Good Morning! Woo Hoo! I was so sunburned, I had to sleep in the recliner (ouch) in front of the TV. I saw the game until halftime, went to sleep, woke up again and ORLANDO was having their picture taken with the TROPHY! Go, Magic!
That was a total beatdown. And rather unexpected.
Orlando must have been ROCKIN’ last night.
Chris aka sportschump
This is the biggest thing to hit C Florida since the Rays made it to the World Series. And when the Bucs win the Superbowl. But I do believe that if the Magic wins. It’ll be even bigger than that !
That being said LeBron showed the sort of person he really is after the game. It was classless what he did walking off the court and not even the Magic or the press. In reality it shows what a piece of scum he really is once the spots are shown there for all to see.
Now comes the hard part for the Magic . And that’s derailing the ambitions of the Lakers and Kobe in particular.
It’s Now Or Never ……
What Now For Phil ….?
The following are my two most recent pieces. In order to view just click on the text above. I’m also now on Twitter . LOL,LOL ,LOL !!!!
Well who’dve guessed ?
And wasn’t it great to see Pietrius step up to the plate again ? The guy is simply brilliant. And to my mind he’s been the Magic’s go to guy !
Is that what shook Georgia last night? Orlando? lol
Al… I was watching that game with a friend who, for some reason, was hating on Orlando and rooting for the Magic. Every time Pietrus connected on one of those jumpers, it was fun to see my boy cringe. Outscoring the opposing team’s bench for the series? That’s unheard of.
Ath… it’s very likely.
Whats gives? Does the Sports Authority have a psychic working in their
marketing dept. See Orlando Sports.
Chris It’s good to see LeBron showing what a classless piece of turd he really is ! Not wanting to shake hands with an opponent after a loss is one thing. But then to state …you’d sent Dwight an e-mail congratuling him on the win”. It merely shows how naive and immature you really are ! And he thinks by doing that people’ll view him in a better light ?
LeBron really needs to get a damn clue ! He’s not the man he really thinks that he is when he acts like a prebuscent child to begin with ! Much as in the same way Cavs’ coach Mike Brown really needs to get a clue.
This upcoming series against the Lakers’ll be a really interesting one. As it’s by no means a foregone conclusion that everything’ll be in the Lakers’ favor. The key to this all for the Lakers may well be how Gasol comes out for those first two games. If the Magic can keep him as well as Kobe in check. Then they’ll definitely will be in with a chance of winning the series.
Chris aka sportschump …
I get the feeling your friend right about now mightn’t be all that happy ?
He was probably one of the faithful looking to see that Kobe LeBron matchup ….for whatever it may well have been worth. The thing is as long as the Lakers are in the Finals. The ratings do tend to be rather good. I can understand any misheld preconceptions that there might be with the NBA’s hierarchy as things haven’t turned out the way they might’ve wanted. But it’s not going to stop the millions that’ll come pouring into their coffers.
As for the Magic I just hope that they’ll put the frighteners on the Lakers and their fans. Far too many of ’em are of the opinion that the Magic are ripe for the taking. When in actuality at this juncture nothing could be further from the truth.
Pops… what was the Sports Authority reference? What did I miss?
Al… I’m okay with LeBron leaving the court all pissy. I mean he was pretty friggin disappointed. Although it did show poor sportsmanship and revealed us a little bit into his character which is apparently three parts competitor and one part beyotch.
How anyone can conceivably try and excuse LeBron’s behavior is beyond me. And I was also that postgame interviews were mandatory to begin with in the NBA ?
But yet there’s been no fine levied by Stern or the NBA hierarchy for that matter. So I guess being known as The King does indeed have its privileges to begin with ? What sort of message does Stern and the player himself want to send to the fans . But in particular the kids ? It pays not to be sportsmanlike as to how you conduct yourself on the field of play ?
LeBron to my mind is nothing more than a self centered a_hole to begin with. Ever since his days in high school when he was driving round in a $90,000 tricked out Hummer with no visible means of income. Especially when one considers the family’s socio-economic background. They didn’t have to friggin’ cents to rub together. He’s been engratiated and emboldened all along by others and amongst his entourage.
He was pissed off, man.
Was it childish? Yes. Was it unsportsmanlike? Definitely. Should Stern have fined him on the spot? Without a doubt. By not doing so, he set a precedent that the megastar can get away with more.
I’m not condoning his behavior. But as we’ve seen, there are worse crimes and bigger babies in sports.
Congratulations, AGAIN, on your latest award! lol Go, Chris!
We may well have seen worse or even have been part of that ourselves as children. But here’s a guy who’s stated that he wants young kids to look up to him as well. So much for being role model !
What sort of message is he sending to them as well as his own young son to begin with ? Never mind the fact that Stern has remained as docile as a mouse concerning the incident. Were it not a marquee player then I guess that individual would be looking at a monetary fine.
As I’d alluded to earlier I gues being King LeBron does bring with it privileges. It’s not enough that he bit_ches and whines when he doesn’t get a call. Now he curries favor even with the commish himself.
I guess with the sense of a military background and knowing when you’re part of a team. Then you act as a team and not as a band of self serving individuals. Sportsmanship ought to count for something in this day and age. But I guess not when there’s so much money being thrown about and to be made. What is it LeBron himself is always saying ? …. I want to be a global icon ? Well screw him ! As I seriously doubt that his idol ever carried on like that in terms of an opponent !
Thanks, Ath. For those who don’t know, I was awarded http://sportsscribes.net sportswriter of the month. Yee haw!
Al… there’s no doubt BronBron’d rep took a serious blow with his little huff. Such is the maturing process of a man. I’m sure he’s regretting the move now.
Now where the heck is Stern’s fine?