February 7 2012, it’s a balmy Florida night but even as I stand amongst a throng of rowdy NBA fans, sweat beading and t-shirts sticking, I still manage to stay cool. I am not bothered by the humidity because I know that in less than one hour the Miami Heat will take to the hardwood of The America Airlines Arena to face the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. This is the moment that true fans look forward to. The excitement in the air is electrifying as crowds gather around merchandise stores, bars and jostle to their seats. What will we witness tonight when Miami’s superstar Lebron James goes up against the team that introduced him to the NBA, the team that used to call him the chosen one, the team that would eventually come to despise him for leaving.
Half an hour to go and I have made it to my seat, Miami Heat shirt and drink bottle in hand. As I sit there sipping on my one litre Dr Pepper I’m running a highlight reel in my head. High Flying dunks, Alley – oops, long range three pointers. I had only seen these things on ESPN or NBA.com’s highlights. I stare in awe as both teams hit the court to warm up. Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving and three time NBA MVP Lebron James. Lightening quick passing, huge dunks, shots I had never seen before and the game hadn’t even started. As a basketball player myself I come to realise how talented these people are as athletes.
The teams gather in the centre of the court as the national anthem of the United States of America comes over the speakers. I’m not even American but I’m so excited that I join in anyway. The anthem finishes and the players gather for their introductions.
Cheering, whistling, screaming fill the arena as both teams huddle for one last time. I’m so occupied by what the players are doing that I don’t realise security have told me to sit down. The crowd is going ballistic as they head to centre court to shake hands with their opponents. We all rise to our feet as the referee approaches with the game ball in hand. There is silence for a split second before the ref hurls the ball into the air and the crowd erupts!.
I love this game