TRAVEL BLOG, GAME 3: CLEVELAND

CLEVELAND – Remember the beginning of the “Drew Carey Show”? The song “Cleveland Rocks” playing in the opening credits?

Cleveland does, despite many of its negative perceptions. It’s the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, it’s also cold.

I know. That’s an obvious statement. I might as well have called a rock hard or rain wet. But spending most of my life in Southern California and some time in Seattle, Cleveland is a different kind of cold.

Clippers forward Ryan Hollins played two seasons in the city and it was never something he totally got used to. The nice thing about the Clippers’ team hotel is that it was near an indoor mall and within three blocks of the arena.

Outside, in the frigid air, there was a square decorated with Christmas lights and a giant tree. It was dazzling to see at night with small flakes of snow tumbling from the dark canopy above. You did not want to spent too much time outside, though. It was, by far, the coldest stop on the trip. And that’s saying something after spending three days in rainy, windy Atlanta and barely missing an ice storm in Memphis. It was important to take baby steps when walking. I saw a couple of members of the traveling party nearly slip due to the icy sidewalk on the way back from shoot-around at Quicken Loans Arena Saturday.

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The mall was where just about everyone spent time when they wanted to get out of the hotel. There were several restaurants, a movie theater and a number of shops. It was not so much whether or not the mall was good or bad, just a matter of warm convenience.

On Saturday morning, the mall also served as a starting and ending point for a half marathon. The awards were handed out near a fountain and giant nutcracker statue where kids visited Santa Claus otherwise. I know what you’re thinking, and everyone I talked to was saying the same thing, “A marathon? In Cleveland? In December?” People seemed to enjoy it, even though they were running in gloves, scarves and ear muffs.

Speaking of ear muffs, they could have been useful at the game, especially after the Cavaliers game operators showed a game-tying touchdown by Ohio State in the Big 10 title game on the video board during a timeout. That was arguably the largest cheer of the night. Once a football city, always a football city, I guess.

Two kind of quirky things about the arena, aside from the kid running on the court during the second quarter: First, there is about a six-inch step up from the bench to the hardwood, quite a bit different from most arenas where the players actually sit on the wood. Second, the press conference area for Mike Brown is an old storage room with VHS tapes of previous Cavaliers games cataloged on metal book shelves.

After both teams failed to shoot 40 percent on Saturday night, they may hope the video evidence from the game is misplaced. Off to Philadelphia, where the Clippers try to bounce back against the 76ers. I’m sure I’ll be writing about cold weather, again.

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