By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
Do you consider yourself a basketball fan? Are you a part of the Xavier community? If you answered yes to both of these questions, Cintas Center at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15 is the one place you need to be as the Cleveland Cavaliers “host” the Indiana Pacers in a preseason exhibition.
Despite having no bearing on the regular season itself, this game has basketball enthusiasts jumping through the ceiling even though tickets have yet to go on sale. Tickets are expected to sell out quickly once made available.
This game not only features two of the NBA’s top teams, but also two players that hold a special place in hearts of basketball fanatics in the Greater Cincinnati area. (*Note: another preseason game will be played Oct. 20 in Columbus at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center versus Derrick Rose and division rival Chicago Bulls.)
The Cavs will be showcasing 2014 all-star game MVP Kyrie Irving, newly acquired small forward and four-time all-star Kevin Love and SportsCenter magnet LeBron James. This game is part of James’ return tour across Ohio included in his heart warming letter over the summer, or what some may also believe to be the only sports headline in July.
Now back at home, James is attempting to patch up the wounds left behind from his infamous TV special “The Decision.” The former villain image that stained his career has now been put to rest as he continues to cement himself as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Even sour Cleveland fans must admit he has been one of the league’s top players every season for the past decade.
Seeing an all-time great play in any game is one of those stories that you tell your children and grandchildren long after his career is over.
Conversely, the Pacers will not display such a star-studded lineup because Indiana superstar Paul George broke his leg while preparing to compete for Team USA in this summer’s FIBA basketball World Cup and guard Lance Stephenson is departing in free agency.
However, former Xavier grad David West will be returning to play in front of a Cintas Center crowd that supported him to an Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year award in 2003.
The history of Xavier basketball is incomplete without discussing in length the lasting impact left by David West.
He is the school’s all-time leader in blocks while also seeing his name on lists for second all-time in both scoring and rebounding. In his senior year, West earned first team all-American honors.
West was the program’s poster boy as Xavier joined the college basketball elite in the early 2000s, leaving the standard of excellence that still exists today.
Throughout the David West era, Xavier reached a top-10 national ranking and earned a no. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The university honored West by retiring his jersey number, not after, but during West’s final season as a Musketeer.
To cap off his legacy, West was named to college basketball’s all-decade team for the 2000s.
So basketball fans, your backyard will soon be graced by arguably both the best player in the NBA and definitely the best player in Xavier’s history.
Aside from Musketeer Madness, this will be the ultimate preseason basketball event to take place in Cintas. It is not everyday you get to see basketball superstars in Cincinnati.
From Pacers faithful to Cleveland bandwagon riders, go show the NBA what it feels like to play basketball in Xavier Nation’s packed house.