Cleveland area invigorated by Cavs’ success
The Associated Press
CLEVELAND — A stunning performance by Cavaliers superstar LeBron James and the team’s growing chances of making it to the NBA finals gave the city’s mood a boost on Friday.
James’ 48 points — including the Cavs’ final 25 — in Thursday night’s 109-107 double-overtime win against the Detroit Pistons made a lot of positive thinking possible in a city used to being let down by its professional sports teams.
As people went about normal weekday tasks, there was one main thing to talk about — a welcome, shared excitement over Cleveland’s 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
“Oh, yes,” hot dog vendor Benny Rodriguez said Friday at his corner stand downtown, confirming that little else mattered. “When people come and buy a hot dog from me, the first thing out of their mouth is: ‘What do you think about that game?’ ”
The Cavaliers’ win in Game 5 places them one win away from the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history.
Cleveland teams have long soured the moods of their fans who have had to put up with losing records or excruciating disappointments when winning seasons fell short. The Cleveland Browns last won an NFL title in 1964, and the Cleveland Indians last won a World Series in 1948.
But James and the Cavaliers are causing a major mood swing.
“The excitement is overwhelming. It’s hard to even describe,” said Dixie Reiss, 34, a downtown officer worker for an insurance company.
She stopped at the Cavs’ Quicken Loans Arena, known as The Q, to buy a jersey with James’ No. 23 to wear to Game 6 in Cleveland tonight.
“LeBron has every reason to say that he is the reason for these wins, but he’s so modest, and I’m so tired,” she said.
Like many others, Reiss was up late watching Thursday’s game in Detroit.
If the Cavs lose today and a seventh game is needed, they’ll be back in Michigan on Monday night. The San Antonio Spurs await the winner in the finals.
Jeff Baker, a hairdresser at Marengo Luxury Spa in Cleveland, said even his customers who don’t follow the sport couldn’t help but be obsessed with it Friday. He said he was kept awake in his downtown loft apartment until the early morning hours Friday by people outside honking car horns and yelling.
“There’s a better atmosphere today in Cleveland,” said Frank Edmonds, 17, a Lakewood St. Edward High School student.