Drunk with fandom and devoid of reason I purchased my one seat for this one day on the first day they went on sale, some two months ago. Ms. bte okay-ed it with the plan that she would survey various of the purveyors of the Las Vegas consumer oriented establishments while I was holed up in my hoops haven. ** WARNING** This thread is chock full of name dropping.
I left SMF Friday and Urijah Faber was on my flight. I met up with ms. bte and we checked into the Trump Hotel (yes, a Vegas place without a casino. Further, I got a room for around $120/night. The check-in attendant asked if we wanted to upgrade (more $$) to a larger room (double the size) and I declined. Good thing: this room is both large (a sofa and kitchenette are included and a bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, separate shower) and beautiful. We went to the NY, NY hotel to see Zumanity – nice enough show and it happened that Glenn Davis was in the front row and was called on stage. He was funny and personable and polite.
On Saturday I headed out to Thomas and Mack Center. The games started at 1 PM. I arrived a little after that time – it was 113 degrees F. I headed inside and was shown to my seat. As I was spending the money to fly out to LAV and the hotel for two nights I figured $140 for a seat wasn't much more, so I bit the bullet and spent the change. As I arrived I learned the first game was in the Cox Pavilion which is like a large sized high school gym. Seating is only on the sides of the court, nothing behind the basket. I asked for help to find my seat and they directed me to sit courtside! I was so close I had to move my feet back to let the guy take the ball out of bounds. I was in BB Heaven.
The first game was Wizards/Knicks. Unfortunately, John Wall did not play. Bummer. The game was fun and went into OT (in VSL it was a 2 minute period. I thought they should play first one to 5 but no one asked me). Landry Fields can play, Leo Lyons lead the Knicks, and Cartier Martin led the Wiz. Summer League has a lot of basketball. Some of it is good. A guy sat next to me who was an intense Clipper Fan. He was iPad-ing and checking all kinds of Hoop news. When John Wall came by and said hello to him I figured he was somebody; Turns out he is actor Rondell Sheridan, nice guy, devoted Clipper Fan (I didn’t know him and apologizingly admitted I did not recognize him, he told me he was “nobody important” but someone else spoke up). One behind me was Amar’e Stoudamire who came to see his new Knicks teammates. After the game Clyde Frazier and Mike Breen walked past and said hi. I was close enough that I could hear Rick Kamla yakking away – his energy and enthusiasm are apparent.
Within 5 minutes the next two teams take the floor – Cleveland and Miami. An interesting match up in the regular season, not so compelling here. JJ Hickson beasted a bit, Dexter Pittman is very large and sweats more than anyone else I saw today. Jarvis Varnado is a tenacious shot blocker but not much else.
I went over to the Thomas & Mack to check out the venue before the Kings took the floor. I caught half of the Raps/Hornets game. No DeRozan, no Collison, Thornton. Fun game nonetheless. The courtside seats were very comfortable. Padded like a Phil Jackson sore hip special seat. I almost put on sunglasses and a smirk to watch.
Right before the Kings play, a guy comes by and asks if I and the guy next to me would mind if they moved us: the Maloofs were coming and would like these seats. I didn’t mind, I was sitting courtside anyway. Gavin , Momma Maloof and the entourage came in, I introduced myself to Gavin and we settled down for the game.
DMC was, umm, not impressive, and the team started umm, slow. At halftime, Rick Fox came by, Vlade came by, Grant Napear came by. Ty Corbin was 12 feet away. The only disappointments were that I couldn’t get WiFi and I never did find BearKing. I went up to one guy (twice in fact) and asked him if he was Bearking. I received the no response, blank look followed by the “go the eff away” stare at the floor. I don’t think BearKing actually exists. I am going to go back and look at those images he posted to see if they are doctored like they did in Zelig and Forrest Gump. I was on the frikkin floor for criminy sakes! I had to be visible. I looked in the stands like I was seeking a sniper, but find BearKing I could not. I am telling you, the guy is a mirage.
Anyway, the Kings won on the backs of Hanukah Omri and Dionte Christmas and a nice play by Ryan Thompson. Mario Elie got two T’s – hahahaha (he didn’t swear but the refs made multiple mistakes and he complained with a “c’mon” or two). After the game Tyreke passed me and returned my “hey Tyreke” with a “how ya doing?”. Yes, I will never be a Jimmy Kimmel.
I finished the day with the Minnesota/Portland game. Six seats to my left sat David Khan who gave me a smile and nod. The man is even more pale than me. Amazing. Wes Johnson didn’t play. Luke Babbit looked lost. Patty Mills moves fast. I left at halftime. It was 100 degrees at 8:30 PM.
I had a great time. It was one of the most dazzling live basketball fan experiences I have had. Like getting courtside seats to the Qualifying matches at Wimbledon or watching a Q card tournament. Lots of bad basketball but plenty of good stuff and the access is unprecedented. Guys you have never heard of, guys you have. New rookies, One year and Two year vets. No Names. Guys making comebacks (Lester Hudson and Maurice Ager).70% of the guys won't play a minute in the League next season. Bad officiating. Lots of NBA faces. Worth every penny, even though it was a ton of green.
I am already planning for next year. I am going to try and bring a fan friend (Section, are you there?) and I figure with two of us perhaps we can find the elusive BearKing.