A couple things need to be said.
1. I feel to be a true fan of any team, you need to love the sport and understand that the sum is greater than the parts.
2. If you get the chance to sit on the front row of an NBA professional game, DO IT, without question. It is a completely different game on the ground level. You can’t quit smiling.
3. If you work at D.I. make friends with people who enjoy the same things you do. It will be a beneficial relationship.
I have been to numerous pro basketball games, from Orlando to Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. My experiences all varied from location, who was playing, the implications of the game, but tonight, might have surpassed them all. I’ve watched Kobe, LeBron, KD, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, and it is always entertaining, but if you told me I would have the most fun at a pre-season game just because I was sitting front row, I would’ve said you are crazy. I mean, the Jazz and the Blazers were playing… I feel bored just typing that… Jazz v. Blazers.
However, sitting on the floor, even just for a quarter, gave me a whole new sense of what NBA ball is all about. I was obviously amazed at their size, ability and physicality. It was brutal masterpiece, in the only way basketball can be, coupled with spectacular plays and dense decisions. Strip all the flash and flair, the music, the dancers, the mascot (who could commit murder and we would laud him on) the obnoxious fans, and you have a high intensity pick up game. This may be an oversimplification, but I felt I was watching normal guys hustle for loose balls, box out and rebound, talk smack and just play ball together. It didn’t feel like it was a product, all tied up nicely to be presented to me. These dudes, who’s day job is basketball, were actually trying, which at times I have forgotten. They were real humans.
For example, there was about nine minutes left in the second quarter. There was a shooting foul on the same side of the court as we (Walker Wood and I) were sitting. Wesley Matthews is about 20 feet away from me. I feel comfortable with Wesley, I’ve watched him play several dozen times on the television, and he played for the Jazz for some time. Anyway, I lean forward in my chair, not to talk any real smack (bc to talk smack you should buy the seats, which I didn’t do, and be totally committed to looking like an idiot, bc you can’t quit the entire game… which I also wasn’t) and said:
“We wanna see Adam play [speaking of Adam Morrison, the Gonzaga star who faded quickly among NBA competition],”
He came towards me and had a quizzical look on his face and said,”What?”
Me: “Make sure Adam plays tonight, could you make that happen for me?”
Then some meat head said,”Yeah, remember when he was good?”
Wes: “Remember when you used to be in shape?”
Burn. Everyone laughed. He was silenced. Matthews then went four for four in that quarter on a variety of shots, ranging in difficulty for an NBA player, and after each successful bucket he came back down the court and said ‘Thank You’ to the knuckle-head behind me.
I was obviously giddy as a school boy. Just the same as when Metta World Peace finally responded to my tweet. I don’t know if that interaction led to the amplified intensity, which was noticeable from then on out, but I do know that Matthews was very conscientious of that particular guy and wanted to play harder. Wes got a kick out of saying ‘Thank You’ a few more times.
I was itching in my seat, hoping I could bring on my five and have the next game to 11.
Thank you to Tyler and Taylor Thurston. A great couple and exceptional individuals. I am lucky to have them look out for me. I appreciate the opportunity you gave me tonight.