It's interesting that today is the anniversary of the Cavaliers beating the Pistons in Game 6 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals, because that's when this quest really began. What quest, you ask. My quest to see LeBron James play in the NBA Finals.
Flash back to 2007. Once the buzzer sounded on Game 6, I started to look into the possibility of flying to Cleveland for a game during the NBA Finals. It just so happened that I had requested the weekend of June 15-17 off from work, with the original plan being to attend Philadelphia Comic-Con. However, by June, that plan had fallen through, so I had that weekend free, and an opening to attend a scheduled Game 5 in Cleveland. I booked my flight and hotel, ordered a ticket off StubHub and I was all set. There was just one problem:
The 2007 NBA Finals never got to a Game 5.
I ended up going to Cleveland anyway, because my flight was non-refundable and I'd pre-paid for the hotel through a travel site. It wasn't a total waste, as I saw two Indians games, got to see Quicken Loans Arena in person for the first time, and visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But it wasn't the NBA Finals. And I did eventually see LeBron play in Cleveland, but a regular season game in March isn't exactly the NBA Finals.
In a cruel twist of fate, I did get to attend the NBA Finals in both 2008 and 2009. But LeBron did not -- at least not as a participant in the series -- with the Cavaliers losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Celtics in a Game 7 in 2008, then getting upset in 6 games by Orlando in 2009. The Magic series really hurt, because I spent the majority of that postseason being convinced that I was not only going to see LeBron in the Finals, but see him win a title, and in the span of a week, that dream all came crashing down, but I still had to go to the Finals for work purposes.
This season, I wasn't planning on going to the Finals, even if the Heat made it. I spent a week in Miami in March, and that was intended to be my basketball fix for the season. As recently as two weeks ago, I ruled myself out from another trip to the Finals. Too expensive, too inconvenient, I enjoy watching on TV. I told myself all of that.
Really, I think it was all just a way of protecting myself from another 2009-like disappointment. So when the Heat actually clinched a berth in the Finals, my line of thinking changed. LeBron James is in the NBA Finals, presenting another opportunity for me to see him, and if I go down for Games 1 or 2, there's no chance of the series ending before I can see the game.
So, I looked in to it. The flight to Miami was affordable -- more so than the flight to Cleveland was in 2007 -- and I was able to get a ticket through Ticketmaster at face value. I came around to the thinking that I couldn't pass up this opportunity. Which is why in just a few minutes, I'll be getting on a plane and flying to Fort Lauderdale, landing just before 6, then driving to Miami to get in my seat before tipoff at 9pm. Are my seats close? No. Does that matter? Not at all.
Assuming all goes well, I'll have a full report for you on Friday.