In today's promoted Fanpost, Anitachampionship recaps his experience with some awesome seats for last night's Blazers/Hawks game! -- Tim
I like the part where I got to sit in the second row behind Paul Allen, Neil Olshey, and Chris McGowan at the Blazer game last night.
While the recaps and post-game interviews spoke about the Hawks game as a "glad we got the win, let's move on" situation--my buddies and I are still buzzing about one of the most fun experiences of our young lifetimes.
I thought it would be fun to share about my entire experience with the rest of the Blazers fan community, if only to offer my perspective of what a game is like that close to the court from a peasant/common citizen's perspective.
HOW WE GOT THE TICKETS
Yesterday morning, one of my best buddies informed me that he had Blazer tickets to the game last night, but I had no idea how good the seats were. He's a builder, and uses Standard TV & Appliance as one of his vendors to supply the appliances for the homes he builds. To recognize how outstanding of a customer he is, they provided him with 4 tickets to the game along with free parking and buffet passes. I'm thinking "sweet, that's gotta be at least 200 level seats for us to get in the buffet. Much better than my usual 300 level viewing experience". Wrong. He informed me and my 2 other buddies that the seats were 2 and 3 rows back from the COURT--with 2 of the seats being directly behind Paul Allen, Neil Olshey, and Chris McGowan. The other 2 seats were on the right side of the hoop. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor and changed my pants, I had a hard time focusing at work yesterday to say the least.
After we parked in the hassle-free parking garage, we walked up to the club level to check out the buffet. Now, I've been to a decent number of buffets, mostly at various locations in Vegas, but to have access to all-you-can-eat food prior to and during an actual Blazer game is a "game changer". They could have served Ham & Cheese Hot Pockets and I would have been 100% satisfied. However, the fare was a really, really solid spread: pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, prime rib, chicken & waffles, huge salad bar, etc. Needless to say, my buddies and I made sure to gorge ourselves with more than we could eat, and found the best $9 beer the Rose Garden had to offer--a Laurelwood Red Ale.
Best part was--we could go back as often as we'd like--which we naturally took advantage of during halftime.
Like everyone else, we witnessed a subpar effort from both squads, with the Blazers talent gap being too enormous for Atlanta to overcome. It didn't matter, however. Seeing some of my favorite players only a few feet away more than made up for the play on the court. Witnessing the game that close is an entirely different experience, and almost slowed the game down a bit. It was incredibly fun to watch, and seeing some of the most athletic players in the world playing the game I love up close and personal made for a once in a lifetime experience.
Out of all of the players last night, I was most impressed with Nicola Batum (obviously, after looking at his stat line..). We're all aware of his somewhat passive nature on the court at times, but last night he was incredibly fun to watch. Everytime he took a shot or drove into traffic, he'd yell "HEY!" with every shot. He was the most vocal leader on the court for the Blazers last night. Wesley Matthews was a close second, and between timeouts was always jawing in the ear of some of the younger Blazer players. LMA kept to himself during timeouts, and was always super relaxed. There was one point where Dorell Wright was "coaching" McCollum when he was in the game to extend his arm up more and follow through more next time he took a shot. Pretty awesome to see that.
Taking in the experience as a whole, you can tell that they all get along really well. No bad blood in the locker room. They have a good time together. Will Barton danced to some of the tunes during timeouts. RoLo appeared to be really friendly and to crack a joke with the dudes on the bench. Lillard balled hard, but only took to joking when they were up by 20 and he was on the bench.
I'd say the most interesting part of the evening was sitting so close to the Blazers brass. Olshey showed up slightly before the starting lineup festivities, with McGowan and Allen coming in shortly after the national anthem. Olshey appeared friendly enough, and gave my buddy and I a nod when he sat down. Throughout the game he was one of the most vocal fans in our section. He was yelling at the refs like any other fan, celebrating the good plays, and getting on the Blazers when they made a boneheaded mistake. At one point Allen Crabbe was under the hoop and fouled Shelvin Mack (I believe), to which Olshey yelled out "Allen! Come on man! If you're going to foul the guy, you need to FOUL him hard. Don't slap him on the wrist". This evening single handily made me love Olshey even more than I already did, as you can tell he's really passionate about our team. The only knock against him is that he uses a Blackberry, but he did have a pic of his kids as his background (not creeping on the dude, but that's how close we were to him, ha!)
Allen kept to himself and rarely clapped or made a comment about a play, but I realized he's been to a million Blazer games so I can't blame him. His hat slowly moved back against his head throughout the game. I was hoping to catch a shot of him using an iPhone so it would go viral, but didn't happen.
Chris McGowan stuck out like a sore thumb. The way he interacted with Paul Allen reminded me of the way a freshman in high school is trying to fit in with the Senior class. He smiled and talked quite a bit, but Allen was a stonewall for the most part, to which McGowan's smile would slowly fade and he'd go back to watching the game. Pretty funny.
At the end of the game when we had 98 points, my buddy and I intentionally started chanting "CHA-LU-PA", to which you could tell Olshey and McGowan turned ever so slightly to see who was shouting the incorrect food name. Knowing the business side of the game that they're very attached to, it was funny to be a fan and witness their reaction to the still-popular Chalupa chant that I'd reckon will never completely die.
Who knows if I'll ever have the same opportunity to watch a game this close again, but I don't care. Sitting in the cheap seats for so many games made me bask in the VIP treatment even more. My friends and I took full advantage of the entire experience, and will never forget it for as long as we live. And this entire experience was had around a Blazer game, of which we won by 24 points. I sincerely hope that everyone gets this type of opportunity at least once in their lifetime. It felt like I was being rewarded for being a fan of NBA basketball for so long, and that I can now die happy.
Feel free to relive the experience with me through a few pictures below, along with captions.
Damian warming up..
Batum, showing fans which direction France is.
He tans even harder in person.
He's got potential.
Stotts was surprisingly good at clapping in person. Good form.
If you can guess who this is inbounding the ball, I'll give you a shoutout in a comment someday.
At one point the in the game, this cameraman on the floor had a hard time gathering up all of his cords and getting them off the court as play was about to resume after a timeout. Batum ran over to help him out, and the camera dude thanked him. Batum smiled and said "no problem", then play resumed. So awesome!
Barton was a funny dude. Jokes around a lot and liked to dance during the breaks. He also knew we were taking pics of him often and kept staring at us like we were crazy.
Batum right before the standing ovation for his career rebounding night.
Olshey is single handily keeping Blackberry in business.
They prematurely shot the streamers off after the opening tip. The streamer operators thought the game was over already.
It was pretty apparent that this was the first time McGowan had ever seen streamers. He was pretty excited about it. Paul told him to knock it off.
My wife managed to catch me on the ESPN broadcast. I'm in the blue hat (don't worry, it's a Blazers hat!)
I always thought Blaze was a homeless guy walking around Portland. Turns out he just wanted a high five--not money.