Note: Updated 5-14 at 3pm to add some conclusions and links for Flea's bass rendition of the National Anthem
So tonight I got to attend the game 5 massacre in LA. I sat in the way deep high seats offbaseline. I went with a friend who is L.ker fan as I used to be a long time ago. When he first offered the tickets, it was before we knew the Blazers wouldn't themselves be there. I wore a Spanish Bull shirt -
and was happy rooting against two teams I dislike with a bunch of players I "dislike".
That being said, in addition to wanting to see a good game (didn't really get that) and someone get ejected/flagrant fouled/bloodied (that either), I started really paying attention to the entire experience to compare my experiences at the Rose Garden as a season ticket holder the last three years.
First and very important to Blazer fans - Anyone who wants to broadly dismiss the L.ker/Staples Center fanbase for lacking any fan passion has never sat in the "cheap seats" (80$ a seat?!?!). I thoroughly enjoyed myself up there because they were sooooo rowdy and talked sooo much smack about the Rockets it was just like being in the RG a couple of weeks ago - except enjoyably more ethnically diverse.. But people from up top finally left with around a minute left in the blow out, and they were rowdy the whole way. Mbenga is loved there like a crazy mix of Ruffin/Bayless/Shavlick/Ike/etc.. the intensity for the Mbenga chant was far more than the 'Houston sucks' chant earlier in the game.
Not sure if this was obvious on TV (if anyone kept watching), but they did the wave. It took a few go around for the entire arena to get it at the same time (at one point there was a lower bowl wave going one way and an upper bowl wave going the other), but they got it done.
I'm not going to lie and pretend it was as loud as the RG, but I am also here to say that every seat was basically filled prior to tipoff. There are a lot of things fake down there, but I didn't experience fake fans out there. Maybe playoffs change things but that place was packed for several minutes leading up to the anthem/lineups.
Oh yea.. Flea did the national anthem; almost certainly the best to which I've ever borne witness. Best video link I've found for it yet
Ok.. So.. the bad things about the Staples Center experience...
The only individual stats that are displayed at all times are the points and fouls of the players that are in the game; I kept looking for a board with some more stats like I do at the RG and found myself missing it. They don't display anywhere close to the number of team stats that we do either. I found myself really missing our three independently cool stat boards (nine players with guys playing individual stats, detailed team stats, and the hustle board!) and confirmed my own geekiness for myself.
They play commericals for movies sometimes during timeouts/between quarters. The starting lineup was "sponsored" by the new terminator movie and they kept showing some clips from some other movie that they finally gave one row free tickets. Other than this, a little towel at the door,
and the "Free Taco" coupons - they never gave ANYTHING away.
Beer might even be more expensive: I paid 19$ for two Dos Equis. And the nearby bars were only slightly better.
Now I don't want to incite any fights, but the L.ker dancers reminded me so much of Blazer dancers.. but it was as if the Blazer dancers went bulemic for a week and didn't get even slightly more attractive for it. Oh yea.. and they are also a more ethnically diverse group. But even my rather crude L.ker loving friend felt it was odd that these girls dance stripper moves at a basketball game.
So my mom (a total Blazer fan who attends many games with me) loves Pau Gasol and wanted a shirt. They had nothing - only jerseys. Every shirt that wasn't just the L.kers was basically just K0be. If it wasn't obvious - they are obsessed with him there. They even lightly play music when he is on the foul line to encourage MVP chants. I loudly asked if Lebron was in the building and got ugly looks: did I mention yet that i enjoyed myself despite the L.kers winning like that?
Okay.. so.. despite that.. Staples centers does a few things that were really cool.
Staples throws a drop cloth from on top of the big screen down to the floor and projects their little preannouncements video; it was really a nice effect and one that I would fully endorse.
So they don't give anything away.. but they also don't really do tons of dumb contests and annoying stuff to waste time... except for the stupid movie commericals I already mentioned. They did a round of Kiss Me cam (celebrity edition), a half court shot (that went horribly) contest, some thing having to do with a pretend car race where either red, white, or blue win (white wins.. even in LA), and lots of dancers stuff. No stunt team, shooting shirt, getting fridges, throwing balls at pins, or anything like that. Honestly.. despite not liking the commericals.. i enjoyed not being talked to over the loud speaker about people doing dumb things (OR HAVING TO LOOK AT a STUPID MASCOT!!!).
I got a couple for two free tacos (they actually handed me a pair of them at that!). I exited out of a stairway and walked back to a main doorway, and the door attendings just handed them to me. This surprised me as they are very tight with Chalupa coupons at the RG and have never given them to me from the outside.
Get this - they don't give these free tacos for the L.kers scoring over 100pts but, rather, if they can win the game AND hold their opponents to under 100pts. Another point for Staples - way cooler - even though there is no one point that wins you the free tacos; you could never have a 'taco player of the game'.
So that's that.. except that I really have missed In 'n Out burgers and don't go to Long Beach airport after leaving staples center for a next morning flight.
1. Get rid of all stupid “Todd” and Blaze stuff; do not replace it with stupid movie commercials. As much as I had gotten use to ignoring that stuff, one of the best lessons I would love for the RG to take from Staples is getting rid of this stuff. Seriously, it’s like living near a train station or something and then moving away.. i’m sure most of us could acclimate to it but then you only realize how nice quiet is when you are surprised by it.
2. My number one thing to change after the lame gimme gimme yell this and shout this nonsense would be the way we give away chalupas… changing that to something like Staples where it is for holding the opposing team to under 100 is cooler and would make the reward more related to the larger goal of winning.