By: Nick McGill ~Sports Editor~
As Xavier grads David West and James Posey returned to campus and superstar Lebron James made an appearance in Cincinnati, Cintas Center was the place to be as thousands of basketball fans filed into their seats to watch the NBA preseason matchup.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers faced off on campus as part of a preseason exhibition before the season begins in late October.
Professional basketball has been vacant from Cincinnati for many years.
In 1957, the Royals organization was moved to Cincinnati and thrived with players like John Lucas and Oscar Robertson.
Quickly, the franchise began declining.
There was a change in ownership and shuffling around of players.
The Royals moved from Cincinnati in 1972 and the presence of professional basketball has been near vacant since the team left town.
Needless to say, this was a big event for NBA fans in the area. Many Cincinnatians have formed an alliance with the Cavaliers as part of an allegiance to Ohio, while fewer have become loyal to the Pacers.
Despite the otherwise underwhelming nature of a preseason game, the crowd was excited to watch some of the best NBA players face-off in a city with an lack of professional basketball.
The Cavs hosted the Pacers in the home game away from home, and Cavs fans greatly outnumbered their opponents.
Hoisted on the cat-walk above the home locker room tunnel were two banners welcoming home Xavier alumni West and Posey.
West has been a rock for the Pacers since joining the team in 2011.
Posey now works as an assistant on the Cavaliers coaching staff.
Perhaps overshadowing the return of these two Musketeers was James, arguably the best player of this generation.
Fans at Cintas Center roared as James was introduced to the crowd and he continued to be the player to watch during his somewhat limited time on the court during the game.
Shortly after tip-off, the Pacers ran a designed play to get West the ball, who quickly tallied the first score of the game. In response, Cleveland pressed the ball down the floor to James who, in turn, scored his own bucket.
Cintas Center erupted as the poster boy of the NBA showcased his talent.
James consistently executed plays and quietly recorded 26 points in 24 minutes of play on 9-12 shooting.
West finished the game with 15 points with a much less impressive 7-18 from the field.
On West’s return, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel commented on its meaning.
“(West) said it was pretty cool, that it was good to see some familiar faces and have lots of friends and family come to watch the game,” Vogel said.
West graduated from Xavier in 2003, and this was an exciting return to campus as a player after having played in a Xavier uniform.
At the end of the day, Xavier has shown another example of how it is a prominent figure in the basketball scene in Cincinnati.
Teaming up with these professional teams gave Xavier much-appreciated coverage as it looks to improve on its basketball image and prowess.