It was a game that started with what was supposed to be a sweet and innocent Guinness World Record and ended with the realization of how unpredictable life is, and how, no matter if you’re a world-class athlete, it can all be taken away.
Since this is a recap, I’ll try to get all the game stuff out of the way. The Cavaliers were down 49-28, and then decided to play some basketball. The fact that 20,000 fans had their own soft blanket might have contributed to what looked like sleepy defense and an absolute lack of drive or firepower. Perhaps being down 21 is the body blow this team needs in order to wake itself up. Though they would never get down intentionally by so much, it seems to be getting more and more clear that this team responds solely to challenges. Being down 21 is a challenge, and they conquered it.
Lebron had 40-13r-6a, and Antawn had 17, including a nifty sequence where he basically willed the Cavaliers to a lead. Never does he look better than when he is playing with the second unit. Most of his career he’s played with the mentality that a ’2nd’ unit gives him. Shoot the ball, go to the rim, create. Worry about us later. West and Varejao seem to be jiving well together off the bench. They are such a refresing jolt of energy during the inevitable middle of the quarter lulls.
Lebron, while he shot 16-27, seemed to me a bit scattered out there. An odd backcourt call made by Dick Bavetta, though controversial, should not have even been in contention. Also, an airball on a three-pointer, and some casual walk-ups made me think he (along with all the players and fans, I’m sure) was still concerned with Stuckey.
In the third quarter, Rodney Stuckey had an incident that reminded players of tragic moments past, including Hank Gathers or Reggie Lewis. Although I’m not informed enough, it was first reported a seizure, then dehydration, which he’d dealt with last season. Stuckey is now stable and at the Cleveland Clinic.
It’s so easy to write about this sport and correct other people’s actions, but from time to time I forget how physically hard basketball is to play. A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to find a 5 on 5 pick-up game at the local high school. I hadn’t played a 5 on 5 game in over two years. During that time, I managed to stay in condition playing tennis and walking a lot, but after four pick-up games to eleven at full-speed, I started getting dizzy and could barely lift my arms to shoot. More than that, my chest burned when I breathed in. In no way am I making some kind of ridiculous comparison of my experience to what happened tonight, but seeing Stuckey like that made my arms heavy, and it reminded me how in shape and fortunate you have to be to play this sport. Stuckey is of course in great shape. He was tearing us apart and already had 10 assists in the game before what happened on the bench.
Hopefully he’ll be fine.