Quite A Night
By: Brian Gleason
Most years the hottest ticket in Boston in mid-July is a seat at historic Fenway Park, but this year things are different. With Major League Baseball on it's annual All-Star break, the toughest ticket in Boston Monday night was at the Reebok Pro Summer League, on the campus at Umass-Boston. The cause of all the commotion? The Cavs vs. the Celtics in the day one nightcap.
2,500 fans packed the gymnasium as the Celtics and Cavs tipped off at 8:00 p.m. at the Clark Athletic Center Gymnasium, and everyone was there to see how LeBon James would compare to all the hype.
James is touted as the savior for the Cavs and the next and possible greatest superstar in the NBA. Those are lofty expectations for a player coming to the NBA right out of high school, but James is used to the spotlight and seems more mature than most of the past high school players to skip college.
"I think I'm handling it real well", said James following the Cavs 87-84 loss the Celtics. "I just try to stay humble, I learned that from my mom. I just be myself and everything flows in the right direction."
And he proved it Monday night. Not by forcing the issue or trying to put on a show for the jam-packed crowd. LeBron just played his game. He ran the Cleveland offense, got teammates involved, grabbed a few boards, knocked down a few three's, blocked a few shots and racked up a few steals. He did what superstars do, a little bit of everything.
That's not to say he didn't bring the crowd to their feet at times. In a two-minute span in the fourth quarter James threw down a dunk, knocked down a fade-away 18 footer and slammed home an alley oop on a fast break, all of which had the crowd in a frenzy.
"The crowd loves highlights. Every time you get a highlight you get the crowd into it, and that's a big part of basketball, it's called momentum."
James was not the only one making highlight worthy plays. The Celtics rookie point guard, Marcus Banks, along with backcourt mate J.R. Bremer put on a show of their own, winning over the Boston faithful. The two combined for 18 first quarter points, with Banks showing the speed and quickness that made Danny Ainge fall in love with him entering the draft.
Ainge and the Boston crowd were not the only ones impressed with Banks. As it turns out, Banks has a big fan in "King James". James used to stay up late in Ohio as a high school senior just to catch a glimpse of Banks, who played at UNLV. Being out west, UNLV's games are only on after midnight on the east coast.
"I love him, I love him a lot", said James. "He's quick as lightening. The best I can do is try and take a step back and just contest a shot when he goes up. But that's kind of hard for me and he's real quick. I've got a little quickness, but not like him. He had a great game tonight."
So as the game ended it was clear LeBron had proven why he is the next superstar in the NBA, as he ended the night with 25 points, 9 boards and 5 assists. Marcus Banks also showed why the Celtics swapped picks with the Grizzlies in a draft night trade. And best of all for Celtics fans, the C's came away with the victory in what felt like a playoff atmosphere, in front of a jam packed crowd. It was quite a night at the Reebok Pro Summer League.