YAKIMA – Freddie Garza of Yakima, an Air Force reservist known for singing at Mariners and Seahawks games, will perform at his first NBA Finals game on Friday.
Garza will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Game 4 of the NBA Finals. The game in Cleveland between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers begins at 6 p.m. on ABC.
It could be the biggest audience yet for Garza. Game 1 of the NBA Finals drew an estimated 17.4 million viewers. That number was about 18.5 million for Game 2.
“Usually before I perform, I’m fine. I don’t start feeling any type of nerves until an hour before I perform, then I get focused and get in the zone,” he said.
Due to the quick turnaround – his performance was confirmed only a few days ago – Garza will travel to Cleveland without his wife, Rebecca, and their sons. But they will be watching, along with his extended family.
“They’re definitely excited for me, that dad is going and could possibly meet some of their favorite players,” Garza said of sons Diego, 12, and Mateo, 8, both Golden State Warriors fans. The boys have made requests for photos with certain members of the team.
Other viewers may be members of Holy Family Catholic Church, where Garza has worked as a youth minister since January. He’s a technical sergeant in the Air Force Reserves, and is working to complete a bachelor’s degree in business.
A 2000 graduate of Davis High School, Garza grew up singing.
“I started at a young age. Everybody in my family is a singer,” said Garza, 36. “In high school I was in choir, jazz choir, sang at pep assemblies.”
Garza has sung for the Seahawks twice and 10 times for the Mariners. The Cavaliers initially contacted the public affairs office for Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma about having him sing.
“I was originally going to sing for Game 6 (of the Eastern Conference finals) – the Cavs versus the Celtics,” Garza said. That didn’t work because the team needed an answer immediately and he didn’t see the email until later in the day.
The team had invited Garza to sing at tonight’s opening game in Cleveland but went with another singer who performs at many of their events, he said. Garza is fine with that and is looking forward to Friday.
“I’ll be able to stay for the game but I don’t know too much detail after that. I’ve never done this before,” he said.
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