It was a great time at the Ohio Homecoming Battle for Ohio Game this weekend. I'm already looking forward to the 2nd Annual meeting between Team 216 and Team 614 in Cleveland next year, and expect it to be even bigger. It's a great event, put on by great people, and you could feel the momentum building towards Cleveland's game inside St. John's Arena on Saturday. Tristan Thompson's voluntary participation this weekend is an important reason for that momentum too. I mentioned this while on the air with Joe Lull at 92.3 The Fan on Saturday following the game, but just wanted to reiterate.
Tristan was the fourth pick in the NBA Draft. The last exhibition game he participated in was the Rookie / Sophomore Challenge at All Star Weekend. He's from Canada and went to college at Texas. He did not have to drive 2-plus hours to Columbus in order to be the lone Cavaliers representative for Team Cleveland in the game on Saturday. He did though, because the community he now represents as a member of the Cavs is important to him. Next year, when the game is in the 216, and Team Columbus gets that call to make the same drive Tristan Thompson made to their city, guys are more likely to do it because he just did. I appreciate all that, and think it shouldn't be lost on Cavs fans right now amidst the free agent hysteria.
I talked with Tristan while we were down there about the Draft and what he's up to this summer, and our conversation is below.
StepienRules: How did you end up deciding to play in this game, and how was the experience for you?
Tristan Thompson: Coming down here, repping for Cleveland, it was great. I was glad the guys reached out to me on it and I was happy to get involved with the community in a game like this. Without the fans we’re nothing, and I really appreciate the love they show, and the love they showed to everybody down here.
StepienRules: How's your summer going, what are you up to, and have you had a chance to reflect back on last season at all?
Tristan Thompson: To think that just two years ago I was a McDonald’s All American in High School, and now I’m here with an opportunity to help build something special with the Cavs, it's just something I don't take for granted. So I’m just trying to do everything I can to get better this summer. I think we had a great draft, added two great draft picks with Zeller and Dion, and I’m excited about what we can do moving forward. I think we added two great players in the draft who are also great guys, and I'm just working everyday to get better.
StepienRules: Have you talked with Dion [Waiters] or Tyler [Zeller] since the Draft, had a chance to spend any time with them lately?
Tristan Thompson: Yeah, I have. They're both in Cleveland full-time right now, and I'm in Cleveland, so we’ve all been doing individuals, and working out with the strength and conditioning coach lately. We're just trying to build that chemistry right now. We’re trying to build something special here, so we feel like each day we’re able to be around each other just makes us better.
StepienRules: What are your thoughts about playing alongside Tyler in the front-court together, do you feel like your game's compliment each other?
Tristan Thompson: Whenever you can play with a 7-footer like Tyler it makes your life easier. With him now I can play the four. I also think with him being long, me being athletic, we can both make shots, all that will create a some space inside for us. I think we’re going to be two young front-court guys in the NBA who are going to play well off each other as we continue to grow, and I'm excited about it.
Game Notes, Team 614 Gets The Win 94-91:
The Battle for Ohio Celebrity game came down to the last possession, and guys were playing pretty hard down the stretch. They played hard throughout to be fair, but it definitely heightened some in the final seven minutes. On that final possession, Team 216 ran a pick and roll and the pass was thrown out of bounds; no real opportunity to tie. Then Columbus hit a FT with a second to go and it was over.
Tristan Thompson led all scorers with 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Juby Johnson added 20 and 5 for Team 216 and Chet Mason finished with 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting to go along with 5 rebounds of his own. David Lighty finished with 7 and a game high 3 steals, but nobody else was in double figure points for 216. Ron Lewis had a game high 18 points, Evan Turner finished with 17 and 7, and Terrance Dials, Jon Diebler and Brian Brown added 12, 11 and 10 points respectively for the winning side. Diebler also won the three-point contest, coming back to hit 15 of 17 three's to beat Dru Joyce III by a bucket at halftime.