Cavalier craze paves the streets of Kent

Samantha Berk

Whether in Kent or up at the ‘Q’, the talk is all Cavalier basketball

Kent State students watch the second game of the NBA Finals at Mugs Bar in downtown Kent. CAITLIN PRARAT | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

It’s official.

The Cavalier-crazy phenomenon that swept through Cleveland has arrived in Kent in full force.

Around town, impromptu stands selling Cavs gear have been set up on street corners, boasting a rainbow assortment of hats and T-shirts. From pink baby tees to wine and gold old-school jerseys to Cavs hats, Kent residents had a variety of team apparel to choose from. And stores throughout the area have enjoyed the business.

“I would say that we’ve been selling through that (Cavaliers) stuff very quickly,” said Randy Oswald, a manager at Target.

Cavaliers merchandise isn’t the only thing selling fast. Competition for seats to the games has escalated ticket prices, some prime spots reaching as high as $14,999.99 each. Those on a budget have to take their chances by entering the ticket lottery on the NBA Web site.

Fan support

Even if they can’t manage to scrounge up enough cash for a ticket, Cavaliers fans have plenty of opportunities to cheer on their team. The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland hosted free watch parties last week (including one in 3-D) so fans could watch the game taking place in San Antonio. Downtown destinations such as Harry Buffalo and Buffalo Wild Wings are also popular sites where Kent residents gather with friends to watch the Cleveland team experience the NBA Finals for the first time.

“I think some of them are just jumping on the bandwagon,” said junior biology major Kate Verhoff of the people who have turned out to show their support. “Even if they’re not true fans, it’s just good to see Cleveland support its team.”

Chris Singletary, sophomore exploratory major and member of the Kent State men’s basketball team, said although people have rallied to support the team, long-term fans are loyal to LeBron James more than anything else.

“It’s kind of hard to be a die-hard fan when your team never wins nothing,” he said.

Bob Lindsay, head coach for the Kent State women’s basketball team, agreed.

“I think Cleveland fans love to have winners,” he said.

Road to the finals

In absence of victories from the Indians and the Browns, the Cavaliers appear to have become the golden child of Northeast Ohio.

For Lindsay, the team’s debut at the finals seemed long in the making.

“They were headed in that direction over the past few years,” he said.

Singletary initially expected Detroit to appear at the finals. He said the Cavaliers’ roster looked too weak to merit much success.

But Verhoff thinks differently.

“I believe if you have LeBron James on your team you can accomplish anything,” he said.

Popular Players

James’ popularity is openly rife among local fans, even transcending Ohio borders. His efforts recently earned him a coveted spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

“He took the team from the cellar to the top,” said Cavaliers fan Steve Adams, who was selling T-shirts to drum up support for the team.

“It’s nice to see him so successful,” said Verhoff, who knows James personally. But she added that it takes an entire team to reach the finals.

She said Daniel Gibson has done “a phenomenal job,” and Larry Hughes showed tremendous dedication in playing despite his injured foot.

“You can’t get that far without contributions from everyone,” she said.

Contact features correspondent Samantha Berk at [email protected].