It’s oftentimes hard for fans to remember that behind the games we love to attend and watch, professional sports (and I would even argue college sports) are a business. Everyone involved from the owners all the way down to the stadium workers and anyone in between make decisions every day that may not be in the best interest of the fans. Even the athletes aren’t immune to this. I still remember my heartbreak when Jacoby Ellsbury left for the Yankees after the Red Sox 2013 title. But he made the decision that was best for him- he’s got paid way too much to be average to below average, and way more than the Red Sox knew he was worth (apologize for the cheap shots, I may still not be over it).
We got to see some of that heartbreak firsthand during our first night in Indianapolis. It was the first return of Paul George, who had been their superstar for years before demanding a trade. The Pacers begrudgingly obliged and traded him to the Thunder in return for a couple of relatively unproven players: Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The narrative immediately after the trade was pretty close to unanimous that the Pacers had gotten the short end of the deal, but Oladipo had been a pleasant surprise in his increased role and was thriving in the state where he went to college. The Thunder superstars, on the other hand, hadn’t quite figured out how they could all coexist. Even so, the Indianapolis fans were none too pleased with the man they used to love, and we couldn’t wait to help them show their displeasure!
Bron. LBJ. The Akron Hammer. King James. Is Lebron the Babe Ruth of our generation with all these nicknames? Now, I always want to be more Like Mike, but I can at least appreciate greatness, even if “The Decision” made me cringe and his general demeanor doesn’t help. I’d had the opportunity to see him play while I was in college during his first stint with Cleveland (when the Celts had The Original Big Three), but Joel hadn’t yet, so I knew when planning the “Midwest Winter” trip that I had to try to make it happen. Originally I’d tried to figure out how we could knock out the Browns and the Cavs, but the schedule didn’t work great in the time frame I was looking at and also it’s the Browns. Who play outside. Lose-lose. There were other, better games in other cities, so despite the fact that our stop in Cleveland would be too short to see much besides the game, I added their clash against the Hawks in. I’m glad I did! We got to see Lebron in what will almost certainly be his last season in a Cavs jersey (in case you live under a rock, he's moved on to warmer pastures in LA and Dan Gilbert is a moron, so he'll never be back), and while we’ll definitely have to go back to Cleveland for longer (and preferably when it’s warmer), we had a nice sweet stop.
Game 2 of our Sunday doubleheader was another Suns game. We weren’t sure initially whether we wanted to go to two Suns games- they weren’t very good and we figured we could find something else to do with our time there. But we had such a great time on Thursday that we decided to do it. This time, Joel’s friend Riley joined us, and they were playing the Rockets, who had MVP candidate James Harden balling out for them. We were excited for what we thought would be another rousing game!
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.