Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio State senior David Lighty said he would attend one or two Cavaliers games a year dating back to the days Terrell Brandon and Bob Sura raced up and down the court at Gund (now Quicken Loans) Arena.
He even shot a free throw as a youngster when a few fans were invited onto the court after a Cavs game.
"Unfortunately I missed,'' he said.
But the highlight for Lighty came when Cleveland hosted the 1997 All-Star Game.
"I got to meet Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Akeem Olajuwon and all those guys,'' Lighty recalled Thursday before practice for Ohio State's second-round NCAA Tournament game against UT-San Antonio. "Having the Jam Fest at the Convention Center, it brings back some of the memories.''
Lighty said he and his family were lucky when they parked their car for an open all-star practice.
"Their bus pulled up right next to us,'' Lighty said. "I had my pen and my paper ready, but I guess when I saw them I got shocked and amazed. My dad, my uncle and my two cousins, we just stood there and looked at them. I did not get one autograph. Don't know why.
"Those are moments you dream about. Seeing those guys give you motivation, being in the backyard and counting down 3-2-1, Michael Jordan hits the shot, putting yourself in his shoes.''
Although he wears Jordan's No. 23, Villa Angela-St. Joseph product Lighty said he never just pretended to be one player in the backyard.
"It changed as time went on,'' he said. "I was a whole bunch of different people. I'm me now.''
While the Cavs are struggling, Lighty said he would still love to play for his hometown NBA team. There's no guarantee the defensive specialist will be selected in June.
"Of course, why wouldn't I?'' he said. "I'm pretty sure my grandma and mother and pops would love that as well. You never know what happens. We'll see down the line.''
He said he's endured the ribbing he's taken from friends about the struggling Cavaliers.
"All the time,'' he said. "I tell 'em, it happens, you can't do anything about it, you lost one of the best players in the league. It's all about rebuilding and how to make the program better.''
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