First Rose Garden Game Redux...

Well... i STILL loved being there...

Thanks to the folks who linked me to others who were at the game. Sadly I didn't check back soon enough to get the link until the game was over... too bad, it would’ve been fun to meet some BE folks.

In any case. The game was obviously very frustrating.  The Hawks are not better than we are.  We shot ourselves in the foot.  Repeatedly.  But despite everything, I enjoyed myself immensely.

As I wrote before, I went to tons of games at Memorial Col when I was growing up, but I moved away from Portland 18 years ago, just before the Rose Garden was built. Never set foot inside.  Someone asked for a write-up of my experience so here it comes... it's gonna be long and perhaps interesting only to me... read or ignore, I won't take offense :)

My buddy, Craig (Birnbach), who is a sports anchor on KATU, had always promised to get me tickets when I came back to town.  He remembers when he first met me, playing basketball in DC or Jersey or somewhere, he was like "who's the guy in the Blazers jersey..? who wears a BLAZERS jersey...??"  Ironic that he ended up here :).

He got us good seats in the 105 section, and because he’s got press credentials, I was able to get on the floor before the game and meet a lot of Blazer Folk. 
-I met KP, who was sitting on the scorers table talking with Quick. Craig was introducing me to everyone as “my buddy in Brooklyn who’s still a huge Blazer fan” and I told them both that I enjoyed Quick’s pieces and that I’d feel completely disconnected out east if it weren’t for his stuff and for BlazersEdge. I think I must have mentioned BlazersEdge to him 4 times in a 5 minute chat. lol. 
KP asked what I did and when I told them I was an actor he said that one of his friends was one of the producers of the Broadway 80’s Metal/Hair Band musical Rock Of Ages… a little random to find out that your favorite NBA General Manager has friends who produce Broadway shows, but still.. fun to hear. 
Maybe I’ll someday be in a play produced by Kevin Pritchard… He could pay me in Blazer tickets.
And you know, I’ll say this.. KP could not have been nicer. Really. He didn’t know me from adam and still he maintained a nearly 5 minute conversation. I mean, it was loose and there were a number of other people standing around, so I don’t want to make it sound like Kevin Pritchard and I had a CONVERSATION.. no, but, you know... 4 or 5 people were talking and I was one of them and I never got the feeling that it would be So Nice If I Were Elsewhere..
I did do the goofy thing and said “thank you for everything.” lol.  But, damnit, I meant it!  And he was really gracious about it.

-Met Tom Penn… But I didn’t know it was him until we were walking away… I was like…“wait, was that Tom Penn?!” Felt a little silly for awhile, trying to remember if I said anything embarrassing to him. Altho, really, it couldn’ve been much worse then “Thank you for everything.” lol. God I’m a dork..

-Craig seems to be buddies with Bayno, who jogged over to say hi as soon as we got down to the floor, so I got to meet him too. Really briefly, he was working obviously. He was bigger than i expected, but was covered in pads.. :) Really nice… 

Hell, they’re ALL NICE! It’s preternatural…. 

-Bayless and Miller were working on jumpers. Like 10 feet from me. They didn’t miss.

-Met Ben Golliver. Told him I loved the chart! He was very nice too, and after the game called out “hey guy! nice to meet you!” as he was heading down to the locker room. Classy, he obviously didn’t have to do that.

-The Rose Garden hot dogs are HUGE!!! And only 6 bucks! I was told that the proof that I’ve been in NYC too long was that I thought a 6 dollar hot dog was cheap… 

-I met Wheels and briefly met Antonio and Vance. They were all friendly. Wheels was particularly so. And said to come by and say hi is I was ever at a Knicks/Blazers game. I would not expect him to remember, but it was a nice gesture.
-Saw Harry Glickman courtside center. Cool that he still comes to all the games from what I heard.

-And Dominique Wilkins was there! Dude has a Really small head! I didn’t get to meet him, but it’s probably just as well because I was very distracted by his disproportionately tiny head…

-I didn’t get to meet any players (i never thought i would but still… they were RIGHT THERE…! lol), but I did get to meet Shonz. And you know.. I really got all goofy. He said “hi Kelly” in that freakin voice that I grew up with, and.. I mean.. I’m a 42 year old man. I’m an actor, I speak in front of people for a living.. I’ve been on Broadway with Denzel Washington and managed to keep myself together… when I heard Shonz say hi to me.. lol… I was a babbling child! But I did manage to tell him how much I loved hearing him calling that preseason game, and also about the time when my family had first moved from Portland (to Washington DC) in 1975, and the Blazers were playing the Bullets at the Cap Centre. My dad took me to me to the game and before tipoff we wandered up to see Schonley. He was so nice to this shy little boy and he put me on the air for a few seconds, asked me if I missed Oregon, etc. 
I told him that that had actually helped me a little in my adjustment to the big city (I know, I know…. total cheese!). But he seemed genuinely touched. Shook my hand with both of his before heading off.

Next to my wedding night that was the Best. Night. Of. My. Life.

And yes, I am somewhat prone to hyperbole…

But it was certainly a great night

(at least until the 4th quarter…).

My wife was there too btw, and was as loud as anyone there. I was so proud… ((beam)) 
She said I was allowed to call it the Best Night Of My Life until we left the building. Then It had to go back to #2 status.. I thought that was more than fair.

The game itself was actually often quite fun. And I noticed 2 main things that I haven’t on TV.

(I never claim to be an expert. At all. But I love me some BBall)

Stevie B looked for Brandon Every Single Time. Seriously. And to my untrained eye he did so to the detriment of offensive flow. I know this is no breaking news to a lot of folks, but it seemed more clear than ever up close..
First example that springs to mind was Martell. He had just scored 8 straight points including to beautiful 3’s, and found himself open in the corner the very next possession. 
Steve looked at him, looked away, and forced the ball in to Brandon, who missed a contested layup.

Opposing players literally hurl themselves at Greg. At one point Evans lowered his shoulder and drove through Oden like a linebacker to get through a pick, knocking Greg back a few feet. No call. And of course we know how refs call Oden… you could really see it live. Just sayin….

Anyway. Thanks for letting me ramble. Weird to be so essentially happy during such a devastating loss… but there it is.
I believe my boys will get it together soon. I really do. They in no way looked over matched. Just very out of sync most of the time.

I should also give a little shout out to my buddy Craig Birnbach who got me those tickets and made the night possible. If you all don’t know him, he does a great job on KATU. Really good stuff.  Check him out!

Go Blazers!!


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