BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
I've seen a lot of interesting pre-game festivities and national anthem singers, but what I saw on Wednesday Dec 1, 2010 was a first.
This was the first time that I've seen a Rabbi sing the national anthem before any sporting event. But there was a good reason for this.
The Detroit Pistons vs Miami Heat contest at the American Airlines Arena (AAA) was the first day of Hanukkah. Being Jewish myself, it's a strange way to find out about this holiday and with my busy schedule lately, it slipped my mind and I never gave it much thought.
So now here in the year 2010, I'll know where I spent the 1st Day of Hanukkah, at an NBA Basketball Game in Downtown Miami.
To this day though, Karen Newman of the Detroit Red Wings is still the best national anthem singer I've ever seen having been to many arenas around the country and a few in Canada! Hands down!
During the pre-game shoot-around at the AAA Rabbi Yossi Lebovics was rehearsing and I admit, the Cantor was pretty good. He was even better when it mattered just before tip-off.
But I have to give the Miami Heat credit, they played up this night quite well. To honor the Jewish faith on this night was a Class Act!
They handed out 1st Day of Hanukkah T-Shirts to their fans. There was a Menorah Lighting Ceremony at the East Plaza Outside, the only part of the building where the fans can re-enter the building where there are special events.
This night made me realize some things.
1) There is a large Jewish Population in South Florida and on one occasion, I went to South Beach to a place to pay tribute to my late Grandma Dorothy Caplan with a cousin.
2) It was the first time that I was at the AAA since April of 2009 and that was the last time that I saw my good friend, former Pistons Vice President of Public Relations Matt Dobek. The more I reminisced with former Miami Heat & Washington Bullets Public Relations Director Mark Pray, I continued to think about the great memories with Matt!
Pray and everyone that knew Matt realized that his death has left a tremendous void in all of our lives. Dobek came down to see former Pistons Coach Chuck Daly, who died on May 9, 2009 at the age of 78 due to Cancer.
3) Sitting in the Upper Press gave me a good overview on the Heat's Big Three of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James and what they did for attendance. There were a lot of empty seats and even though Detroit entered the game with a 6-12 mark, therefore, the odds of the Pistons winning let alone being competitive seemed remote, I still thought we'd see a sellout. I was wrong. One thing will always remain consistent. If you don't win in South Florida, the fans won't show up. The Heat were 10-8 going into the game but 1-7 against teams above .500.
4) I had as much desire to interview Wade, Bosh and James as I did Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants after the 2003 NLDS when the Marlins went on to win the World Series. No Desire!
When these three clowns win an NBA Championship, "I'll take My Digital Tape Recorder To South Beach." To this day, I get sick to my stomach when I think of what James said, though if he was smart, he should trademark the absurd saying, "I'll take My Talents To South Beach." I didn't care that he left the Cleveland Cavaliers because an old fashioned press conference has always been the way things are done. Not some stupid staged circus. I was concerned that I couldn't refrain myself from telling himself this, though he's heard it zillions of times, therefore, the Pistons locker room was my safest place.
What I will take from the first day of Hanukkah is the Miami Heat Media Guide with these three clowns is a good collectors item.
Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars may have finally made a good decision by drafting Georgetown Center Greg Monroe (6-11, 250). The rookie played nearly 31 minutes and scored 15 points and added eight rebounds in the Detroit's 97-72 loss.
I realize that it will take some time for the three clowns to develop some team chemistry. But I will admit that this trip to the AAA didn't compare to those days when the Pistons/Heat were battling to be the best in the Eastern Conference. This arena was rocking when Shaq O' Neill was in the building and the Heat played like a real team with less hype.
But Mozel Tov to the Heat and Rabbi Lebovics for a job well done on Jewish Heritage Night, the first day of Hanukkah.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.
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