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Friday, June 24, 2011

A Cavs Fan's Diary of the NBA Draft in New Jersey

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 11:52 AM

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Former Scene intern Jordan Zirm trekked to New Jersey to witness the NBA Draft. Here's what he saw.

While many of you sports fans settled into the comfort of your arm chairs and stared at Jeff Van Gundy's bald head for over four hours, I decided to make the trek to Newark, New Jersey as Scene's one and only draft correspondent. I could bore you with talk of how every state has gardens in it so why New Jersey get the sole responsibility of being called the Garden State angers me, but I won't. Let's get to my draft observations.

-Attending the draft live is a lot like being a part of a studio audience for a television show, except that it's a little less exciting than watching Eric make out with Donna live on That 70s Show. The ESPN analysts literally do not move for the duration of the draft. They don't even stand up to stretch. It's no wonder Van Gundy's eyes look like they have sunk into the back of his skull, all he can do is stare straight ahead for hours on end. It was difficult to hear the player interviews when they came off stage, so I liked to imagine that Jan Vesely told ESPN's Mark Jones how much sex he was going to have later with his 7 foot girlfriend and that Brandon Knight admitted that he indeed was a Volcan child.

-Any fan who can sit through the entire draft live deserves some sort of prize. The time between the Cavs fourth pick and their 32nd was approximately six years. When we left, my brother had graduated college, I had grown a full beard and my dad said goodbye as he flew to his retirement home in Arizona. It was weird.

-Every Cleveland fan has some sort of laughable Browns jersey in their closet, a homage to the revolving door of horrendous players the Browns have compiled since 1999. It might be a signed Jeff Garcia jersey or a mustard-stained Jeff Faine replica. For me, it's an orange Dennis Northcutt jersey, something that's just so awful I cannot get rid of it. Looking around the Prudential Center last night, it was rare to find a Cavs fan with a current jersey. One father and son combination from Shaker Heights were wearing expensive Delonte West and Larry Hughes jerseys, respectively. The son looked a bit ashamed when I pointed out that he was wearing the jersey of the guy who spent his offseasons rocking shirts that proclaimed his love of strippers, but the father was downright proud of his West jersey, proclaiming him as the anti-LeBron.

-A handful of fans were wearing Lebron James Cavs jerseys, except they taped over “James” in the back and wrote in “Irving,” which could have made for the worst jersey of all time if the Cavs had taken Derrick Williams. Except for a William Green Browns jersey, because that's the worst jersey you can have.

-I met the world's youngest basketball expert, a Cavs fan no older than 10 walking through the concourse in an Antawn Jamison jersey. As I was discussing with his father the prospect of Kyrie Irving being taken No. 1, the father glanced over at his kid for a moment before returning his gaze to me and letting me know his kid wasn't too high on the Duke product.

“He hasn't played enough!” the kid said, almost defiantly, “I want Derrick, um, Derrick, um, Williams!” It was like every morning before school this kid stomped out the door screaming “I JUST KNOW THE CAVS ARE GOING TO TAKE IRVING, DAD! IT'S A MISTAKE! PLEASE DON'T DO IT! DID YOU PUT ANIMAL CRACKERS IN MY LUNCH?”

No word on if he was taken out of the arena strapped down to a board after the Cavs went with Irving.

-The most interesting Cavs fan I found was Jeff, a New Jersey resident who grew up in Pittsburgh of all places. He told me that because Pittsburgh lacked a basketball team, and because of his love for Mark Price's silky smooth jumper, he adopted the Cavaliers at a young age. While some children anger their fathers by flunking a test, getting addicted to drugs or hitting on the babysitter, Jeff did the worst thing you can do in Pittsburgh: Root for a Cleveland team. I'm not 100 percent sure they still speak, or if he is welcome at home for Christmas.

-A kid in a New York Knicks jersey was strolling around the arena before the draft, armed with a “Cleveland Still Sucks” sign and an overall douchey look on his face. I couldn't quite find a pattern to his route, he would stroll through the seats for a few minutes, hold up the sign, laugh at himself even though no one was actually looking at him (Besides me of course. But you could say I was more “hunting” him than “looking” at him), and then stroll to some other part of the arena. He was clearly looking to get a rise out of a Cleveland fan, and to my knowledge it didn't happen. What's ironic is he was probably at last year's draft running around the aisles with a “Cleveland, please let us have LeBron! We will love you forever!” sign.

-Finally, a short observation on the small gathering of Miami Heat fans I spotted. 90 percent of them were under 10 years of age, and I am not exaggerating. It is understandable, though. Young kids gravitate towards the stars of the game, and since three of them lie within the confines of South Beach, they have every right to root for that Satan spawn of a team. But at one point during ESPN's telecast, Jeff Van Gundy stated that the hate for the Heat had to dissipate at some point. And maybe it will. But it certainly isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Every time a Heat highlight was shown on the jumbotron during ESPN's commercial breaks, the entire place booed. And I don't mean a half-heartedly, “I'm-booing-because-everyone-else-is” type of boo. I'm talking about the “If-you-weren't-so-gigantic-and-strong-I'd- consider-fighting-you-on-the-street-if-I-saw-you” type of boo.

Awesome things overheard at the draft

“Honestly, Kemba Walker is the best player in this entire draft!”-Drunk UConn fan

“Jimmer don't play no defense because if he tried to in the prison, he'd get shanked.”-Fan in front of me after Stuart Scott told the crowd that Jimmer and his brother used to play pickup basketball at a prison near their home

“Who'd the Cavs get? Irving? He's gonna be ass. Are you an agent?”-Drunk fan in a Cincinnati Reds hat, speaking to my father.

“WHY AM I HERE?! I SAID DON'T DRAFT A EUROPEAN! WHY AM I HERE?! EVERY SINGLE YEAR!”-Contingent of furious Raptors fans who stormed out of the Prudential Center after the Raptors took a European with their fifth pick. — Jordan Zirm

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