May 22,2009 was a big night in the history of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball. It was game two of the eastern conference finals against the Orlando Magic at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers were already trailing in the series one game to none. The favored Cavaliers were down to their final second and the reality of traveling down to Orlando trailing the Magic two games to none was running through the heads of Cavaliers nation.
Hedo Turkoglu had just made a clutch shot to give the Magic a two point lead, 95-93 and silencing and already nervous sold out crowd inside of the ‘Q.’ The Cavaliers original plan was to have Mo Williams inbound the ball to LeBron James for a lob to the basket and force overtime. The Magic defended that play well so James improvised and got open behind the three point line. Williams tossed James the ball and LeBron took the shot from the top of the arc. James hits the biggest shot of his NBA career at that time giving the Cavaliers a much needed win and hope that a championship run was still in order.
We all know the end result of that series, the Magic would win all three of the games played in Orlando and would shock the heavily favored Cavaliers to advance to the NBA Finals. That shot however did something for Cavaliers nation. It provided Cavaliers fans a new meaning for ‘The Shot.’ Just 20 years earlier, that phrase was made famous by Michael Jordan for eliminating the Cavaliers from the playoffs on a very similar executed play call.
James has made many more clutch shots since that very day, the most recent back in game four of the Chicago Bulls series where LeBron hit a baseline jumper to even that series at two games a piece. The fact that James’ most recent game winner took place in the house that Jordan built was sweet redemption for Cavaliers fans. If you ask me though, the events of six years ago today is still the most memorable moment in Cavaliers franchise history. Hopefully my opinion will change in about a month if the Cavaliers bring the city of Cleveland its first major professional sports championship in more than 50 years. Only time will tell.
The shot by James six years ago also hits home for me as well. How you ask? Well there is an old saying that we all have our 15 minutes of fame. Well that happened to me, on this date six years ago. I was working as an editor at WEWS NewsChannel 5, the ABC affiliate here in Cleveland. One of my assignments on that night was to edit the highlights of game two of the eastern conference finals between the Cavaliers and Magic. Now you have to remember there are rules about airing game highlights while the game is still in progress, it’s not allowed. Of course I know this, but there was a chance the game could be over before the eleven o’clock newscast was over.
The game was still going on as the newscast progressed. The game was still going on as the sports segment was coming to an end and there was just one more commercial break before the anchor team signs off for the night. I am sitting back in the newsroom monitoring the end of the game and hoping to get to show the end of the game highlights before signing off. That ultimately didn’t happen. We come back from the final commercial break and the anchors talk for the final minute or so to wrap up the show. Right as the anchors were about to say goodnight and have a great weekend, James makes the game winning shot and the anchor crew goes crazy. The anchor team consisted of news anchors Leon Bibb and Alicia Booth, meteorologist Mark Johnson and sports anchor Terry Brooks.
Now you ask how am I a part of this moment. Well I was so excited back in the newsroom I just start running in the newsroom doing a happy dance. I sprint from one side of the newsroom to the other. The news studio is located right next to the newsroom and there is glass in the background. Right before the station signs off, you see a shot of me in the background of the news set celebrating the victory.
What happened after that was just unbelievable. I was asked to get a copy of that clip and post it on you tube. Well it took a while for that to happen, but once I did, the video went viral and it became one of the most talked about videos at that time. Members of our on air staff were doing interviews on ESPN not just about James’ game winning shot but the reaction from the staff at NewsChannel 5. Of course, I became known as the guy in the background, some people used different words to describe me but I didn’t care. I enjoyed being in the spotlight for a couple of days over it.
I wasn’t interviewed personally after the video went viral, but just hearing my name mentioned on ESPN and having sports center anchors ask about my part in the video was gratifying and something I will never forget. If you don’t know what video I am talking about here it is.
Anyways, the Cavaliers play game two of the eastern conference finals in Atlanta against the Hawks tonight. Perhaps history will repeat itself and James will hit another game winning shot at the buzzer on this very date. Honestly, I would prefer the Cavaliers win game two in convincing fashion so Cavaliers fans don’t even need to think about a buzzer beater.