Been way too long since I updated my blog, and what better way to start writing again then to share a once in a lifetime experience that happened on Sunday.  Here goes nothin’:

Last week when the Yankees lost, I said to my roommate, “sucks your season’s over!”, his response, “sucks you won’t get a season!” touche my friend, touche.  This ruined my night and he knew it would.  See, I am a huuuuuge NBA fan and have been ever since Payton threw that perfect alley-oop to Kemp (that they used in the opening montage for NBA’s Inside Stuff…Ahmad Rashad where you been? Summer Sanders..you alive?) and so it goes without saying that this lockout is killing me.  

Then the tweets started coming about summer league games featuring NBA stars, followed by the most ridiculous youtube highlights (i’m looking at you brandon jennings vs. josh selby, durant vs. lebron, kobe showing up unexpectedly and the infamous drew league vs. goodman game in DC) and i knew if there was any opportunity for me to attend one of these games, I will do whatever I can to be there.

Then James Harden and Brandon Jennings started tweeting about a potential game in Long Beach and Truehoop (thank you Henry) talked about a potential re-match.  Finally it was confirmed; October 9th, Long Beach University at the Walter Pyramid Center. Now all I needed to do was find tickets, searching, searching, searching, DONE!  They went on-sale last wednesday night at midnight and by 10am on Thursday I had 2 courtside tickets for the game.  Quick call to my buddy Adam asking if he wanted to come, “YES!”, a quick roundtrip flight from SF to LA and it was almost game time.

Just before the game Adam and I decided that we needed to get something for the players to autograph (you know, just in case we got close enough to the players for an autograph or two) and we decided upon basketballs and i wanted to get an authentic Durant OKC Thunder jersey to go with the Texas jersey I have of his signed (from the night he got drafted) and framed on my wall. 

With a sharpie in my pocket, a basketball in my left hand and the durant jersey over my t-shirt, I waited in line at the will call window.  ”Sir, no basketballs allowed inside”, the security guard explained.  ”Shit” adam and I said simultaneously and so we got the tickets, dropped the ball off in the car and waited in line (well we cut the line and didn’t really wait much at all) and finally entered the stadium about 15 minutes before the “celebrity game”.

"Holy shit!!!! Dude these seats are unbelievable!" Adam and I said at the same time.  "Sucks, I didn’t get someones jersey to get signed." Adam said.  "Hmmm..well how bout this…if I get the durant jersey signed, then you can have all the autographs I get on the ticket envelope (only other paper we had)."

"Deal!" Adam exclaimed.

The celebrity game started and while everyone’s attention was on the court, I looked to my right and see one of the doors on the side entrance swing open, and in walks Derrick Williams (no. 2 pick of the T’Wolves out of U of Arizona), I don’t hesitate for a second and nonchalantly walk over to him and ask for his autograph.  He was cool, took the sharpie and signed the envelope, next in walked Dorrell Wright and Nick Young (both were cool enough to sign the envelope) then came James “The Beard” Harden (he signed as well) and then the man of the hour, Kevin Durant walked in.

With white skull candy head phones and a grey sweatshirt with the hood up, durant was shielded from the ever growing crowd by a large bodyguard looking individual.  I kinda walked next to them for about 50 feet as they walked under the bleachers (apparently towards the locker room) and finally began to ask Kevin to sign my jers——-

"Not now brotha"  said the large man.

"but I came all the way fr—-"

"Not now brotha."  Nuff said.

Point taken.

But instead of turning around and walking back to my seat, I kept up the pace and walked parallel to them until I reached the security section before the locker room. There were about 12 people mulling around, seemed like 6 were media people and the other 6 were entourage-esque folks.  With my bright blue thunder jersey, a sharpie in one hand and the envelope in the other I figured there was no way security would let me through.  Good thing I don’t listen to myself. 

3 media people, an entourage member, myself and then 3 more media people hustled by the (apparently not very observant) guard and wooosh, we were in the drew league locker room!  There Brandon Jennings and Marcus Banks welcomed me with a warm smile, Nick Young and Trevor Ariza gave me dap and then the media people’s cameras started rolling.  Instead of standing there frozen, I started asking questions with my iphone camera rolling, as if I was supposed to be there…so Brandon, “what have you been doing with all your free time”, so Nick, “do you think if you were able to play last game the drew league would have won?”  The rest of the team was ushered in and the “media” was asked to leave (at that point I guess I was considered media?) and so back to my seat I went, with an envelope full of autographs but no durant.  

More players shuffled in, John Wall signed my ticket, Baron Davis signed Adam’s shirt but still no Durant.  Finally he emerged from the locker room and began shooting around and showing love to all his boys playing in the game.  This might be my opportunity.  I walked to the corner of the court (where baseline and sideline meet) and walked straight to mid-court (right in front of the scorer’s table on the other side of the court) and waited til he was done talking to Mike Beasley….”Kevin…” I politely yelled.  He heard me, turned towards me…hesitated for a second and then walked right to me.  I handed him the sharpie and the jersey off my back.  Without hesitating a second longer he signed right on the 3 underneath the D U R A N T.

Triumphantly, i walked back to my seat, handed Adam “his” envelope and watched Harden, Wall and Durant put on an incredible show…but the story doesn’t end there.

Right around halftime, Russell Westbrook (besides Durant my favorite player in the league) walked in and sat next to the Goodman League bench, with nothing else left, I had to get creative.  Since I was wearing my brand new jordan’s for the first time, I figured #whynot and walked up the stairs, then down the stairs (positioning myself directly behind westbrook) and had one of his entourage tap russ on the shoulder.  He turned around, i handed him the sharpie, my shoe, he smiled and signed.  

Does it get any better?  I walked in with the hope of watching NBA stars in an intimate setting and left with these autographs:

Jennings, Harden, Derozan, Nick Young, Rudy Gay, Dorrell Wright and Derrick Williams on the ticket envelope (that I gave to Adam for being the man)

John Wall on my ticket

Russell Westbrook on my Jordan’s

Kevin Durant on the Thunder jersey

Truly an honor to see these young millionaires and superstars be gracious and appreciative of the fans.  They don’t make a $ off these games and all the profit goes to charity.  Hell of a way to spend the loooong off-season, thank you all.  Hopefully I’ll see you in OKC for the next one!

OK owners, now go end the lockout.