Fans prepare for Cavs’ big night
CLEVELAND — Six hours before tipoff, Jeremy Langley walked the sun-soaked streets of downtown waiting for the Cavaliers to play the biggest game in their 37-year history.
He drove up from Columbus without even having a ticket to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night.
The 27-year-old just wanted to be part of one of the city’s wildest sports nights ever.
“It’s going to be a celebration,” Langley said. “It’s just going to be such a party.”
Hope has returned again to this cursed, championship-deprived city with the Cavaliers on the verge of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time.
“Unbelievable,” Langley said. “This is the biggest night. I’ve been a Cavs fan all my life and this is the biggest game ever.”
Quicken Loans Arena will be packed with 20,562 screaming fans, and thousands more, such as Langley, will watch at downtown bars and restaurants.
Meanwhile, more than 40,000 fans will be next door at Jacobs Field rooting for the Indians and listening to radios or checking PDAs for updates on the Cavs.
Hope also has returned to Jacobs Field, where the Indians rallied to beat the Tigers with a five-run ninth inning Friday night. They’ve beaten the Tigers all five times they’ve faced them this season and lead them by 4 1/2 games in the American League Central Division.
“Hard to be a fan after that game last night,” said Kevin Kramer, one of the many Detroit fans who roamed downtown yesterday afternoon.
“We’re getting ripped on all the time,” added Mandy Niec, 30, with a grin, still wearing a Pistons hat despite the trouble it has caused her.
Kramer, 28, refused to give up hope.
“The Pistons are going to win the next two,” Kramer said.
That’s just what happened last season when the Cavaliers got ahead in the series then lost Game 6 at home and Game 7 at Detroit.
Kramer just hoped the Pistons could contain LeBron James, who scored 48 points in Cleveland’s double-overtime win in Game 5 to put the Cavaliers ahead, 3-2, in the series.
“Hard to beat him if he does that again,” Kramer said.
James willed Cleveland to the victory with one of the all-time great playoff performances just as athletes on opposing teams — Michael Jordan and John Elway — have done to Cleveland in the past.
The 22-year-old James has brought back hope to a city that last won a championship with the Browns in 1964. The city hasn’t even come close to winning a championship since the Indians lost the 1997 World Series in Game 7 in extra innings.