Hicks sang the national anthem, but he once played a lot of basketball.
Taylor Hicks for 3?
Taylor Hicks put away his basketball a long time ago in favor of a harmonica. Hicks, last year’s “American Idol” winner, sang the national anthem before Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Hicks spent time before the game dribbling a basketball while players warmed up.
“I actually played a lot of basketball in high school,” the 29-year-old Birmingham, Ala., said. “I was a better harmonica player. I was a little bit short for basketball and wasn’t too short for the harmonica.”
The move paid off about 10 years later. Hicks is a multi-millionaire recording artist.
So, what’s more pressure — the NBA Finals or “American Idol”?
“That’s interesting,” said Hicks, whose hair started to turn gray when he was 13. “ ‘American Idol’ is like the Super Bowl each week. There is a lot of pressure. It’s very similar to that when you consider what’s at stake for each team.”
Taylor ... Rizzo
About three and a half hours before tipoff, rehearsal begins for the show that is put on from the national anthem to the introduction of both teams.
Fox-8 sports anchor Tony Rizzo stood in for Hicks during rehearsal and ended up singing the national anthem — twice. Rizzo wasn’t bad. At least not as bad as Rocco Scotti, who used to sing the national anthem before Indians games.
NO SLEEP, NO EXCUSE
LeBron James spent most of the night and early morning hours in a Cuyahoga Falls hospital. His fiancée, Savannah Brinson, gave birth to their second child, Bryce Maximus James, at 12:51 a.m.
“It doesn’t matter,” LeBron said after being asked what time he got to bed. “I’m here right now. I wasn’t late for shootaround, and I’m not late now.”
James’ lack of rest didn’t seem to bother Head Coach Mike Brown.
“He’s a young guy,” Brown said. “I’m sure there’s been a few other nights where he stayed up pretty late and came and played basketball. He should be fine.”
James wanted Maximus to be Bryce’s first name, but Savannah had the right of first refusal.
“I had no choice, because I named my first child,” James said of little LeBron. “She didn’t like (Maximus), so she settled for the middle.”
Maximus is the lead character in the movie “Gladiator,” James’ favorite movie.
Incidentally, James said he wasn’t as relieved as Savannah.
“I think Savannah is happier than any one of us,” he said. “When you’re carrying a baby for nine months ... she was ready to get rid of it. It’s not a relief. It’s exciting. This is great times for me and my family.”
Spurs All-Star forward Tim Duncan has had just one head coach during his 10-year NBA career — Gregg Popovich.
Usually, NBA coaches are tuned out by players after a few years. However, Duncan reveres Popovich.
“I think when you’ve been with a player for a long time, in a way it’s like a marriage,” Popovich said. “Respect grows, and that respect and trust is important to make it work.
“You can’t just have a basketball relationship, because over time that gets real old. ... Often times, we don’t even have to speak. When you’re with your best buddies, sometimes you don’t say anything. You’re in the same room and don’t need to talk.”
Where Were You?
James said he expected Quicken Loans Arena to be loud and crowded for the NBA Finals. He got what he wanted in Game 3. Most of the fans were in their seats and ready to go well before Tuesday’s game.
With 10 minutes left before tip Thursday, there were plenty of empty seats for Game 4.