Saturday, July 16, 2016

NBA Finals ~ Game 7 ~ June 19, 2016 + Championship Parade!

Nearly one month has passed since the Cavaliers won the NBA championship and it's still surreal. The emotions over the past month have been awesome and overwhelming. It's hard to believe an NBA championship could bring so much happiness to our lives and I can honestly say, we haven't stopped celebrating. As I write this, I'm sitting at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas (still celebrating...) I've had conversations with total strangers and I can't tell you the pride I feel when I tell people where I'm from, where I was born and where I was bred. Cleveland is finally a city of champions again. 

Game 7 ~ June 19, 2016

We had planned to stay at home and watch Game 7 with Sean, Kevin and Lisa, but soon found out that Steve would be working the Cavs watch party. We were totally bummed and knew it would be difficult to obtain extra watch party tickets. Even when the watch party tickets went on sale to the general public, we had no chance...the nearly 20,000 tickets sold out in less than two minutes!

 Steve was able to get two tickets to the employee club section, but needed one for himself in order to access the area. That meant only I would be able to join Steve. Sean and I really wanted to watch the game together, so Steve and I thought long and hard about how we could get Sean access. We devised a few different plans and then Steve received word that one of his co-workers was offering up one ticket. Score!

 We started the day at the Mott/Herbold family reunion and Father's Day celebration at Green Leaf Park. When the Finals schedule came out, Sean and I made note that it would fall on the same day as our family reunion and Father's Day. Sorry family. Sorry dad. On June 19th, our priority was Game 7. Luckily for our family, the game didn't start until 8 pm, so we were able to show face for a few hours. The mood was nervous excitement. Steve and I brought three “All 4 One” beers for us to enjoy in anticipation of the night ahead.


Steve had to head into work early, so Sean and I tagged along and met Kevin at the casino for a pre-game drink.

We arrived at the arena about 30 minutes before doors were scheduled to open at 6 pm and the lines were outrageous. It took us nearly two hours to get inside. 


The outdoor watch party was also sold out and people were everywhere. They found whatever square inch they could around the arena and squatted. Totally nuts.

Once again, Steve's tickets allowed us access to an exclusive club area with food and drinks. We were joined by Cavs employees and their +1. Steve actually did some work J


After the first quarter the Cavs led 23-22 led by LeBron with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Draymond Green totally dominated the second quarter with his 15 points performance including 4-4 from three. The Warriors outscored Cleveland 27-19 to enter halftime with a 49-42 lead.

 The game was intense and our anxiety continued to heighten as the time ticked away. Kyrie’s 12 and J.R.’s 8 point performances in the third quarter brought the Cavs to within one point (76-75) as they entered the final stanza.

Cleveland immediately took the lead at the start of the fourth and then GSW scored seven straight to take an 87-83 lead with 5:37 remaining. LeBron James retaliated by scoring the next six points in 0:31 seconds. That’s when time (and scoring) seemed to stand still.

It was the 4:39 mark of the fourth and the score was even at 89-89. Through seven games, both Cleveland and Golden State had scored exactly the same number of points (699). It’s a statistic that seems unfathomable. The Cavs were on the brink of defeat and down 3-1 in the series and now back to square one.

Little did we know that the 4:39 mark would also be when the Warriors scored their last basket of the game.

Both teams had gone 3:09 without scoring a bucket…and then this happened.


The Cavs big three showed up when it mattered. They each provided key plays down the stretch that all proved to be monumental.
Playing in his sixth straight Finals, James almost single-handedly carried the Cavs back into this series and finished Game 7 with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He also had 3 blocked shots, including the key BLOCK on Andre Iguodala in the final minutes.
LBJ brought his "A" game during the entire series and became the first player EVER to lead all players in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals (29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.3 blocks, 2.6 steals). The first player to do so in any playoff series
This was also his seventh career Finals triple-double and he joins Jerry West and James Worthy as only the third player in NBA history with a Finals Game 7 triple-double.
Kyrie Irving scored 26 points to cap his brilliant Finals performance, including the absurdly clutch SHOT over Curry with 53 seconds left.
Kevin Love did a great job of controlling the glass with 14 rebounds and a + of 19 for the game. His critical STOP on Steph Curry during the final moments of the game was of championship caliber.
These three plays are just a taste of what I'll remember when I look back at when Cleveland went on the defeat the Golden State Warriors 93-89. The Cavs ended a 52-year major sports championship drought in Cleveland. They beat the defending NBA champions who had the best regular season record in NBA history. And they became the first team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.
We couldn't believe it. The Cavs just won the NBA Championship.

 We had just experienced something so magical.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the night. Me and my big brother. We were both in tears and so incredibly happy.
After the game, the Cavs hosted an employee after party and Steve was able to smuggle Kaila into the arena. She had driven in from Canada earlier that day and was taking Uber back to Lakewood with Sean, Steve and I. We enjoyed the free flowing drinks for a while before heading outside to the madness on the streets.


Although Steve was initially upset that he had to work, it was pretty special for him to be with these guys (and others) who put in their time for this championship team. Steve and Ed have worked together for 21 years.

By the time we got outside, the extreme chaos had ended. It was still nuts and every place was packed. Some bars had even run out of beer! Sean was high-fiving every single person he every car that slowly drove past us. I needed him on a leash! We finally found a spot outside of The Clevelander where we bought a cocktail and just tried to take it all in. It was the best night ever and one that I will never forget!

When it was time to think about going home (and charge my phone...2%!) we checked on the Uber rates. This 6.5x surge would have meant a $90 ride into Lakewood (typically $12). We decided to live it up a little longer.
Words will never be able to express my emotions. Steve has worked for the Cavalier organization; my hometown team, for 21 years. It's where we met 16 years ago and it's our like. I am happy for him and I am happy for us. Our lifetime of celebration continues :)

 By Monday, we learned all of the details of the championship parade...and that Steve would be IN THE PARADE!! Amazing. Everyone I knew was  taking the day off of work and planning how they were getting downtown, where they'd be standing, etc. etc. The predictions for the number of people expected varied. Some said 250,000 while others said 800,000. No one could have predicted what actually happened.
1.3 MILLION PEOPLE is what happened. Yes, 1.3 million people filled the streets of downtown Cleveland...and it looked and felt like it.
Here we go...5:30 wake-up call ✔️ Friends who join you for the 5:30 wake-up call ✔️ Steve is IN THE PARADE! ✔️ Free parking at Browns Stadium ✔️ VIP rally credential ✔️ Coolers with snacks and drinks ✔️ 1.3 million of my fellow CLE fans ✔️  I love My City.

The five of us met at Burger King at 6 am and planned to drop Kevin & Lisa's car at the RTA station. Unfortunately, the lot was already full from other parade-goers! Instead, we dropped their car back at their place and headed downtown. Steve received free parking at Browns Stadium as part of his parade participation and it was super convenient.

We stayed together for a few minutes, but one by one we separated. The crowds were intense and the parade wasn't even set to begin until 11 am. Steve parted ways first because he had a parade meeting point that he was not going to miss! Sean was second because he was interested in finding a safe place to meet Alex, my mom and the kids. That left, me, Kevin & Lisa. I was trying to figure out where to find my “VIP” location and there was only so much they could do. We decided we’d part ways and agreed on a later meeting point.
VIP? Yes, VIP. All Cavs employees received VIP rally credentials for their significant others and children…that’s me!! The problem was I had no idea where this was and at 5’2 I have a lot of difficulty seeing over anything in small crowds, let alone large crowds. I finally decided to just search the sea of people for SOMEONE with my same purple wristband.
Well, it finally happened. At around 9 am I found another lone purple wristband-wearing man and we were on a mission to find this so-called VIP area. He was a lot taller and had a larger presence and eventually we were close enough to a police officer who saw our wristbands. He quickly escorted us behind the rally stage and to the VIP security line. This is a picture of us being escorted. The crowds of people were cheering for us…they clearly thought we were important. He may have looked like an athlete, but I did not.
My new friend and I were two of the first to arrive and we had a long time to wait. I tried to capture the exclusivity, but it was a little difficult.
These are the barricades that were behind me and the countless number of fans.
The little red blob in the picture below (next to the white chairs) is where I was standing! Definitely a VIP experience.

This is the stage where the team would eventually give their rally speeches. 
We even had our own port-o-potties!! It was a BIG DEAL!! We actually shared them with police who were securing the area.

Randomly I ran into Maura who went to Magnificat with me. Unbeknownst to me, her husband also works for the Cavs. She had her mom and three kids with her, so I joined them for conversation and simple human interaction as we waited for the parade to start and finish.

Kevin and Lisa ended up finding space on the rooftop of the casino garage. They were very excited to see Steve wearing his signature yellow backpack and found him in the crowd! Here he is waving and they even got a video of him (taking a picture of them!)
Sean was able to meet Alex, my mom and the kids. They found a grassy area behind the swarms of people and although they couldn't see anything, they actually had space to move. Louie and JoJo will forever be able to say they were at the parade!
Following his parade appearance, Steve met me at the rally. Finally. It was all such an amazing experience for the two of us!
After several hours, the team arrived and gave their speeches and they let the confetti fly!

These are some of my favorite pictures from the parade. 




16 down. ZERO to go!!! We finally had the chance to post our last bottle...and an extra special visit from our friends Todd & Gina from the eastern suburbs. Todd used to work with both Steve and I at the Cavs and we've kept in touch ever since.


Like I said, we haven't really stopped celebrating. We have since started receiving the friends and family discount at Angelo's (due to so many consecutive visits) and another celebratory lunch at Mabel's was definitely in order. 

Steve and his buddy Larry.
Even after nearly a month, I am still amazed that these waves of emotion continue to come over me. I have a hard time believing it was real. My eyes still well up when I remember the memories that I will embrace forever with my husband, my brother and my friends. I am just so incredibly proud to be a Clevelander and a Champion.
Cheers and GO CAVS!

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