The feeling is there, with a reversal of the weather. Just like the October chill brings something extra to a pennant chase, the spring thaw brings new excitement to a contending basketball season. Night basketball games with daylight starts mean something. It's spring. Your team is in the playoffs. If you're so fortunate, you team might still be playing when shorts and t-shirt weather arrives.
Basketball on the precipice of summer is the best kind. It the kind that fans in just two or four cities get a chance to experience each year. It's national-stage basketball -- heck, world-stage basketball. It's an experience just to touch the hem on its garment, especially in a city like Cleveland, where something that big can't possibly be ignored.
In 2007, on the off-day between Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals, I made it a point to head downtown just to see the pomp and circumstance, the giant inflatable Larry O'Brien Trophy out on the plaza next to The Q, all the signage, the souvenir stands. I wanted to be a part of basketball's biggest stage on a warm June night. The Cavs were in an 0-3 hole and about to be swept, but I just wanted to take it all in. A lot of fans had the same idea. Hundreds stood, watched, took pictures, lapped the Q to take in the whole scene.
It was something of a pilgrimage by fans who had never experienced the NBA Finals before. They wanted to drink it all in, because who knows when the circus is going to come to town again.
This is basketball, away from winter's grasp, just like baseball removed from summer's embrace. Every time it comes around, it means something different. Something unpredictable. Something that rallies the whole city.
Something, we endlessly hope, will someday produce a title, a trophy, and a parade attended by thousands.