Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An OLD SCHOOL Lakers fan goes to see the Lakers v Wizards @ Verizon

Yesterday, was Tuesday and I was dragging ass all day. Literally... Although I wasn't going far since I work from home. I'd gotten sucked into a late night/early morning showing of the movie, Airplane, on the comedy channel on Monday/early Tuesday so I'd been struggling through the day. I was working from home and ESPN was on in the background as usual. Throughout the day, I brainstormed on different ways I could get tired or get myself to fall asleep easier at night, and sure enough ~ I somehow thought about the Washington Wizards...

It was around 3PM, and I had been getting a couple of messages from friends asking me if I was going to go the Wizards game. The Lakers were in town, so the idea was somewhat appealing... I figured it'd be a blowout, but I haven't been to a Wizards game this season so I thought more about going. Around 4:30 I posted on my facebook, that I was thinking about scalping a ticket to the game. That's all it took. The comments/messages started pouring in from a crew of friends. I heard from a crew that I knew were already heading to the game (Mario et al are regulars), a friend who's never in town (Pun), a diehard Laker fan (Neville) telling me that he and our mutual sports crew (Teri, MW, DA, et al) were already planning on being there, and a friend who's a KOBE SUPERFAN and was celebrating his belated birthday at the game with his college alumni asociation (Jack), etc.

Um, hello... I've seen Kobe play many times in person. Hell, I saw him last week in Cleveland. As far as I was concerned, BFD... (For those that don't know, what BFD means ~ it's Big Effin Deal. Come on now... My mom could be reading this, so I need to watch my language.) Needless to say, I was late with my RSVP, but I decided that I was going to the Verizon Center for the party. Why?

1. I was bored.
2. I need material for this blog, and I don't think you want to hear about my weekly Trivia outings on Monday night (i.e. I reserve the right to cover it if I'm low on material, since Trivia is competitive and could loosely be described as a mental sporting event).
3. I am an OLD SCHOOL Laker fan.

Let me clarify. I am not really a Lakers fan, I'm an OLD SCHOOL Lakers fan. I'm not a Kobe fan ~ I'd take LeBron any day. Maybe it's because I'm from Ohio. Maybe it's because I think Kobe is too cocky or that his wife annoys me when I see her in the tunnels waiting to kiss him after the game. Vanessa, if you ever read this ~ get out of the tunnel and wait in the family lounge. You look silly, and I'm not buying it!!! But I digress...

I have a poster of the Lakers at my mom's house. It's still rolled up and I look at it when I'm home for the holidays. It's the OLD SCHOOL Lakers ~ James Worthy, Byron Scott, Kareem, Magic, etc. I'm actually not sure who else is on there. Maybe it's Cooper, Green, or Thompson. Eh, who am I kidding? It's probably not Thompson.... Anyway, I love this poster but I refused to hang it when I was younger because I didn't want to put holes in the corners or use tape and risk the poster tearing. This poster is serious to me.

At my dad's house, I have a framed Magic Johnson poster picture and for the longest time, it was the only picture in my room. Eventually, I added a family picture from when we were all young and before my parents' divorce. If that house caught on fire and I could only rescue 2 things ~ those 2 items are the only things I'm grabbing.

I love/loved Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I'm not even sure why. I like tall. I've always liked tall. Tall symbolizes security to me. My dad is 6'2", My first fiancee plays ball and he's 7'2". Yeah ~ I said first fiancee. Yeah, I said 7'2". WHATEVER. I told you I liked tall. Kareem was an anchor, the CENTER. The game starts with a center (i.e. I'm obsessive with catching the opening tip of a basketball game. If you don't believe me, ask one of the many friends and relatives that I flipped a ticket to in the parking lot and left in my dust, as I sprinted to get into the building in time). I once skipped a day of medical school (OK - I'm lying. You're right, I skipped many days of medical school) and talked a classmate of mine into going to MC Sports so I could get Kareem to sign a Lakers hat for me. My dad had given me an autographed picture of him years prior, but unless I watched the guy sign it right in front of me ~ I question autograph authenticity.

Incidentally, my dad told me when I was younger that he'd take me to the Forum. We never went and now they play at the Staples Center. I've been there, but I'll never forget the fact that I missed out on the Forum...

So do you get it, now? I'm an OLD SCHOOL Lakers fan.

I decide I'm going to scalp a ticket when I get to the arena. Carefully watching the clock, I remember that work is supposed to call me at 5 to go over some documents. I jump in the shower at 4:45, so I'll be out and ready to take the call when it comes. 5:30 comes and I'm still getting ready for the game, and I have yet to hear from work. I email my work and tell them I need to leave my apartment by 6 and ask to pushback business until the following day. My request is granted! WOOHOO!!! I'm in the clear.

I finish getting ready. What to wear? To quote Miley Cyrus, "this is definitely not a Nashville party", this is the Lake Show. I decide I need to dress up, because (unlike in finance) past performance indicates future results, and I'll probably be going out after this game at least for a little bit... I wear a conservative brown dress, pink scarf, and some hot boots. They say you should dress for the job that you want in the workplace. My philosophy is that you should take into account where you're going and dress for the life that you want. It's a sporting event. I'm going to be sitting low to the court. Who knows who I could be sitting next to, and I refuse to look like I just went to Sam's Club and rolled into the game. Plus, let's face it ~ I'm a girl. Most of the people at the games are men. You figure it out...

I get to the arena and find a lot to park in. I drive because I know it's not going to be a RAGER and I won't be out late. I'm running behind schedule and notice that I'm going to miss the opening tip. Oh well. I've seen it, and that's what I get for being last minute. $25 for event parking is still less than cabbing round trip, and I was not going to subject myself to the Metro in my outfit. Car is parked and I am racing to the arena.

Incidentally, I use to valet my car at Rosa Mexicano across the street until I had to get snippy with a valet attendant about not eating there. Um, hello.... It's not my fault your restaurant kitchen closed before the game ended. Jerk...

I walk towards the box office and see the group of scalpers I normally deal with. I ask for "One Low" and I have a price in mind. They wave a guy over and he shows me a bent ticket for section 112, row K. Man.... I hate bent tickets. They're the worst. I ask how much, and he asks what I'm willing to spend. I offer $100. He tells me face is $225. Yes, I can read ~ but there's no chance in hell. It's no secret to either of us that the game is about to start. He asks for $200 and then immediately drops to $150 since he sees I've started walking towards the doors of the arena. Sorry guy, no deal.

1. I already missed the tip-off.
2. Your ticket is bent.
3. I know the box office has tickets available.

I am at the box office behind a guy trapped in a timewarp. He's asking the guy at the ticket window for a good ticket in the lower bowl, but he doesn't want to spend more than $80. I realize we’re in a recession, but seriously… I could scream. I literally think about hip checking him out of my way so I can get to the window as he hmmmmmms and hahhhhhs. Why can't people like this stay home and watch on their TV? The ticket agent can tell this guy is a WOT (i.e. waste of time) and asks him if he can move over so I can be helped. REDEMPTION!

I set my price and ask for the best under a certain threshold. Don't worry ~ I am still in the black when it comes to my casino/gambling winnings, so I'm playing with house money. I get what I want for the price I want and I'm moving around the concourse at a decent clip to get to my seat.

My view of the Lakers' coaches.  Notice Phil Jackson sits higher.

One more thing, it looks like Phil has a phonebook in his pants...

I watch a boring game and root for the Lakers. Incidentally the line was Lakers -8 and the Lakers more than covered. I realize that I will win my wager with a friend and begin to chat it up with the people to my left and right. Why?!?! Because I'm a girl and people like to give me stuff. You never know when someone has an extra and people in those lower level seats are usually season ticket holders so extras come up all the time. Mark, the independent Xango distributor, gives me his card on his way out and tells me to email. He says he may have extras coming up since his buddy is going out of town. JACKPOT!

Game over. Onto the next episode. I see David Dupree on the concourse while trying to leave the building and make it to my car. I need to move my car to the next spot so it’s not stuck in the garage over night. For those of you that don’t know. David Dupree is a reporter that used to work for USA Today. A few years ago Bob Ferry (friend and former General Manager of the NBA Champion Washington Bullets) introduced me to David before a Cavs v Wizards playoff game. I never forget a name or a face. I’d seen him another time as I left a Lionel Richie concert in Baltimore so I just kept on walking and didn’t stop since he looked busy.

I get to the parking garage and thankfully notice that I can reverse my car and turn around easily. Unfortunately, I’m parked in hell and so far below ground that this is going to take awhile. Awesome. I have 2 guys staring at me in a black truck. Double awesome. Time passes and I’m still waiting… My window comes down a little bit and the guy driving the truck looks over and says he’s going to let me in. Nice. He then asks me if I went to the game, if I’m a Lakers fan, where I’m from, etc. Blah blah blah. He says that I’m too pretty to be from Ohio. Um, ok ~ thanks, I guess ~ but you just dissed my entire state. He’s from Iowa, a Hawkeye fan, and does counter-terrorism stuff. How do I know? He told me and actually got out of his truck to give me his card. RANDOM. Don’t worry we were surrounded by a ton of people who weren’t moving so there was no risk of danger.

I get to the point to pay and the attendant asks me if I have $20. Cool. I just saved $5. I win again. I have no idea what happens, but I’m out of the garage and in motion to the meet up spot so we can all eat and catch up. The people I’m meeting for the most part are sports people. They’re involved in sports, media, or communications, etc, in some fashion and if they’re not, they’re simply PASSIONATE about sports. One by one they trickle over from the arena and through the door and I’m excited to see everyone.

David Aldridge is there and I hadn’t seen him since a bunch of us were in Miami for the NBA finals. He compliments me on a blog that I wrote in November, while I was working in London. The blog was about Maxwell. I’m literally floored. I cannot believe he took the time to read my words, much less comment on them to me. To be complimented on my writing by a professional is very special. Thank you, my friend.

My girl rolls in and she’s carrying a bag from the Green Turtle (a restaurant/bar connected to/inside the Verizon Center). What’s in the bag? You wouldn’t believe me unless you saw it. She had Kobe’s shoes from the game. They were signed by Kobe and Derek Fisher. Say what?!?! I’m telling you. Some people are just lucky and my girl had hit the jackpot. No one deserves a more random act of kindness than her. She’s a professional also and her love for the game, the league, and the players is immense.

I run into my friend’s husband and his friends at the spot and he/they want an introduction. Sorry. It’s not my place and it wasn’t the right time.

Our party is seated and we start the part I love the best. We share ideas, debate and comment on the current headlines and sports news. Each of sharing and bringing something special to the table. The doctor tells us whether he thinks sex addiction is real, the communications people tell us about how they would’ve handled various public relationship nightmares, etc. We discuss differences between baseball, football, and basketball with regard to locker room/salary/punishments. My brother texts me and tells me Kentucky was upset, I get to be the first to tell everyone about the loss.  From topic to topic we fly, and I love every minute of it.

At the end of the night I get to hold Kobe’s shoe. It’s the lightest shoe ever. I realize I’m holding something special. I mean, it is kind of cool. But at the end of the day, I’m still an OLD SCHOOL Lakers fan.

Holding Kobe's (autographed) shoe after the game.  Yes, it's HIS shoe ~ and no, it's not mine.

You can buy your own Kobe shoe here, if you're a true fan...  :-P

I can’t wait for the Cavs and Lakers for the NBA finals. Yes, I said it. :-P

No sports tonight ~ tonight it's music...  I'm not 1D, you know...  Maybe I'll start dropping music in here or maybe I'll start another thread,  Looks like I have something else to think about....


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