Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Coach at ALL-STAR

When the Coach finally realized where he was headed after a very long Thursday he realized that something special was right around the corner (Ben Buttons?)

Fearing he’d oversleep and miss his 6am flight Friday morning Coach chose to nap before the gutty Celtics win over the Mavs in Dallas. After the win which included 18 4th quarter points from the Truth and a very timely pair of technical fouls by coach Doc Rivers which fired up the champs the Coach packed, then went to his local spot for a couple of beverages before the his ride was scheduled to pick him up at 4am. So with a carry on, a steamy bag of Newman’s Own and some major anticipation Coach got to the LGA in plenty of time. Everything seemed smooth, even at security where three security guards cheered me on as I chugged the white tea that I forgot I had to drink before I passed through the gate. But then I got on the plane it was like some enemy from the past wanted to keep the coach from getting to Phoenix. Was it that referee that Coach challenged last week? The girl from a couple of weeks ago that Coach just wasn’t that into? Maybe a D-Back that got poco’d back in the day thanks to the Wolf? We’ll never really know, what we do know is that the plane sat on the runway for an hour and a half which caused Coach to miss his connection in Dallas, and ultimately meant a 4pm arrival in Phoenix instead of noon.

As soon as I got on the ground and took a deep breath of that clean southwestern air and I felt something great. I was at ease. This has been a stressful time of year and time away was needed. Friday evening proved to be a great lead in to the weekend. Some down time at the Intercontinental resort and a bath, yes, Coach loves a bath on the road when the tub is large enough and it got me right to start the night in Scottsdale. Dinner, drinks and some conversation while watching KD destroy the rookies on the flat screen in front of us took it until about midnight.(Chicken tacos and sirloin sliders were off the gage!) Following an interesting piece of Arizona police work where they pulled over the cab we were in because of where the driver picked us up (a clear case of racial harassment) we made it back to the Intercontinental for the Chicken and Waffles party thanks to the worldwide leader. It was a good late night activity but would have preferred more ladies and music on hand to go along with the spread instead of perhaps some of the TV personalities that think they are celebrities. You read off of a teleprompter, yes a lot people know your name but stop trying to be THE MAN!

Saturday is where things got really cooking as following the $20 hotel breakfast buffet (both the coffee and fruit were a big help for the Coach’s flow) we then headed to the Phoenix Wyndum for a special VIP sneak preview of Spike Lee’s new joint “Kobe Doing Work.” Thirty cameras were on the Black Mamba last April as the Lakers played the Spurs in a pivotal late season game to determine playoff seeding as well as influence the MVP voting.

Spike was given full access to pre-game, halftime and post game along with capturing each possession of the game while Kobe was on the court or on the bench with the rest of the Lakers. It was a tremendous piece of work by Spike Lee who made some awesome editing decisions as well as showing what the Lakers communication is like both in the heat of battle as well as during their lighter moments. (Kobe has some great exchanges with Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar and Pau Gasol, some not so great one’s with Vlad Radmanovic and Luke Walton) One of the highlights for the coach from the basketball side was the physical contact Kobe had to endure during the game along with how active he was as a help defender from a communication stand point (Manu Ginobili did not play for the Spurs so Kobe was defending off the ball most of the game) After it ended some walked out amazed, others disappointed but if you can’t see the magic from both the artistic side and the basketball side then there is no way you will be able to really appreciate what Spike Lee was able to create.

After a quick walk around the all-star festivities and Thunder Dan Majerle’s Bar and Grill the Coach returned to the International to have late afternoon lunch and a drink poolside before charging the battery for the Saturday night festivities.

Now I am not going to lie, I have been very fortunate for quite some time in regard to getting taken care of as friends at ESPN, Nike, Dime and the NBA have really looked out for me when it comes to my best interests as well getting me to events. Saturday was an amazing example as my seats were just straight silly for the three point shoot out and the dunk contest. The shootout however was quite a disappointment (We had a four man pool going, it got confusing, no one picked Cook, Coach tried to buy back in but Tubbs disallowed it, Tubbs you owe Coach a crispy $20!) I was pulling for #33 from Indiana, I know quite a shock with my track record, but in the end it was DeQuan Cook who outlasted the others. It was real weak.

The dunk contest on the other hand was flat out fantastic. Between the dancers to our left, the high flyers right in front of us and the storyline involving Dwight and Nate it was some serious entertainment. You all saw it, and while Nate definitely deserved the win there was nothing like watching Dwight walk into the phone booth right in front of us.

As much fun as the dunk contest was the party following it that we got access to was fantastic. Thanks to an NBA connect Coach and crew were able to walk into the NBPA party which had a very tight door guarded by none other than Roy Hinson. But thanks to the development of a recent relationship we walked right in and who do I walk into, yes, the Truth himself, who unfortunately happened to be on the way out and really wasn’t interested in speaking. Crazy, right? Maybe I did not hit him with the right thing, perhaps it was the timing, but either way the encounter that could have been amazing with one of my favorites ever fell by the wayside (Just a reminder I met Larry Legend in 2000 and nothing will ever touch it) So Coach had a decision, be disappointed or hit the bar for drink tickets. Before you knew it we had beverages in hand with a fired up T.I. on stage and were part of a big bumping party.

In the midst of the madness you see which athletes are there and which people are there to be seen with athletes. It was quite an experience. I only approached a few people all night to chat it up with but all exchanges post Truth were real good. I also had the chance to catch up with some of my NYC guys that were also in town. After speaking with Shaun Rogers of the Cleveland Browns (great dude) I was finally able to speak to Steve Smith about his NBA TV co-host Rick Kamala who has got to be the most intense studio guy in the business. Smitty and I also talked about his Atlanta Hawk days when he used to drop daggers on people, especially the Knicks at MSG. It was a terrific conversation with the former Spartan star.

But then there was the highlight of the night and the weekend. Pistol and I were walking towards the front just to take a peek at the entry area and we walk straight into the Glove and C-Webb, WOW!!! Not only were we huge fans of them as players but their NBA TV studio show with Ahmad Rashad has turned into pure entertainment at the Gramercy Estate as those guys are just straight chillin on set. We hit Glove with his Celtics and Bucks days which caught him by complete surprise as well as talked about what it would have been like to have had him in New York for his career. My man Pistol hit C-Webb about his studio lean which Chris got a kick out of and then we took quite a picture as you can see below.

Sunday was a day to enjoy to the hotel, chill at the LRG suite near by where Mr. Durant rolled through fresh off of his dominant performance on Friday night and enjoy one heck of a steak before arriving at the arena for the All-Star game. At this point the weekend had already been a unreal, the game was just the icing on the cake. Hats off to the city of Phoenix for hosting one hell of an event. Special thanks to Pistol, Tubbs, PR, Dime crew and of course the NBA for one memorable weekend for the Coach.

1 comment:

ybloc said...

damn coach, i can't believe 'the truth' as you call him, played you like that.

after all you have given for him and that team from boston, this is wrong on so many levels.

does he know you bleed green? did you tell him you were outfitted in head to toe green for one reason and one reason only - to show your unwavering support??

i know that no laker would ever be so rude to a fan.

sounds like a great weekend outside of that!!