No doubt, it’s going to be ugly when Lebron and the Miami Heat head to Cleveland next Thursday to face the Cavaliers.
Emotions are going to be running high; there’s still a lot of dislike (or hatred whatever you want to call it) for the man that decided to take his talents to South Beach.
That being said, the NBA and the Cleveland authorities are trying to calm the waters a bit.
The team and the league have been planning for this date since the summer, starting a continuing dialogue since the Heat’s first game in Cleveland was scheduled in early August. The Cavaliers, the league and the Cleveland Police Department have had conference calls discussing the proper way to secure the game, which will be televised nationally on TNT.
To ensure James’ safety, there will be dozens of extra police officers on hand, both uniformed and undercover. Officers will be stationed inside and outside the arena, and many will be positioned by the Heat bench and at the tunnel where the Heat players will enter the court.
“Honestly, I’m a little bit afraid,” one member of the Cavs organization said. “Some people don’t care. Their mentality is ‘‘I’ve got to get this off my chest.’ There’s so much negative energy around this game. People aren’t excited about the game itself. They’re just like, ‘‘I can’t wait to do something.’ “
The Cavaliers organization and the Cleveland authorities have done research on the various crude and offensive James T-shirts in circulation locally, and officials will be stationed at entrances to make sure no fans enter with such shirts or signs that disrespect James or his family members. They’ll also be in the stands, authorized to take away inappropriate apparel. Fans who have such shirts will be required to remove them and then will be given a Cavaliers-branded T-shirt to wear instead. All inappropriate signs also will be confiscated and officials will be on the lookout throughout the game for inebriated fans or fans who are preparing to throw things onto the court.
“We don’t want to create a police state,” said Tad Carper, the Cavaliers’ senior vice president of communications. “We’ve always had a real energetic, super-charged home crowd and we want to encourage that for every game, including Dec. 2. We want people to enjoy themselves and express themselves, but we don’t want fans to cross the boundaries of decency. We’re not going to allow profanity and things like that. We’ll have no tolerance for anyone trying to cross those boundaries.”
What’s so crazy is that with all the early hype the Miami Heat ain’t so hot this season…check out the following quick video summary of the Heat season thus far.
Update: Here is the video from this week that Lebron gave talking about tonight’s game
[story via ESPN]