Friday, April 11, 2008

Life as a VIP

When you are sitting in the upper level at the Target Center you are literally sitting in the dark. You can see the people in the lower level sitting in the light and imagine them sipping their Merlot and barely paying attention to the game. You think of them as corporate snobs who don't know that Kevin Garnett no longer plays for the Timberwolves. You drink your beer, cheer on the players you like and heckle the players you don't. You take pride in sitting in the nosebleeds and being a true fan. You pay less for the game and sit with people who care because nobody would watch an Nba game (especially a Twolve game) from the upper deck unless they really care. For the most part true fans are found in the upper deck.

That being written I like being a sell-out. I will pay more, scalp tickets, beg for the corporate tickets or do whatever it takes to get the best seats possible. Watching the best athletes in the world from the lower level is a treat that I am afraid very few people appreciate. Even a team as bad as the Timberwolves have incredibly talent players that are best seen play up close. Note the two players below (Randy Foye and Rashad McCants) are not two of the talent players I am referring to despite both of those players being drafted before Brandon Roy and Danny Granger:

As written in the last two posts I was able to get some courtside seats to the Hornets-Twolves game. Sure it was a game where the outcome that was best for both teams (a win for the Hornets and a loss for the Twolves) happened to be the same thing and not surprisingly the final result. Here are 11 things I learned from sitting courtside:
  1. If you hold out a camera to take a picture of your lovely date for the evening then some attendant will ask if you would like them to take a picture of both of you. This will happen...guaranteed.
  2. In the lower level players might be able to hear what you say, but courtside they actually talk back.
  3. Chris Paul does not like Duke or JJ Redick. I had heard him talk about his hatred of Duke on the Dan Patrick show, so I thought I would find out for myself. During warmups I yelled at him "Hey Chris, how does it feel to never have won at Cameron?" He responded by telling me that he "never lost to Duke at Wake" and that "2-2 wasn't that bad." After that he told me that I "must have gone to Duke" and that he "would rather be where he is than where JJ Redick is right now."
  4. Morris Peterson was shocked that some random fan in Minnesota (me) told him that he should have gone to the Jazz." This was in reference to him debating between signing with the Jazz and Hornets. He let me know that he was "doing all right."
  5. Jannero Pargo tried to impress M with a behind the seats trick shot. I thought we were special and that he was just doing it for us until I looked up Jannero Pargo on youtube and found this. I guess he just does that for everyone.
  6. Tyson Chandler should give half of his $10M contract to Chris Paul for the number of easy points he gets off Paul's passes. If anyone can find that stat on then I would love to see how many of Chandler's field goals come courtesy of Paul.
  7. The guy next to me was what I would think of when I think of the typical courtside fan. The give away was when he was confused to find out that the Hornets were no longer in Charlotte. Also, he was a little too quick to point out that he paid $750 for his ticket. I didn't mention how I paid 1/13 that price.
  8. You get "free" food and drinks before the game and during halftime. I don't think that even Jimmy McNulty could drink enough Jameson to justify the cost of the ticket. At least the food included twice baked potatoes.
  9. M and I showed how out of place we were when we asked one of the attendants "where is the free food and drink section" with special emphasis on the free. For some reason I don't think the season ticket holders ask that question.
  10. I had high expectations of the exclusive Lexus Courtside Club. I thought waitresses would be former Timberwolve dancers, the food would be steak from Manny's, and the drinks would be served with Cuban cigars. Instead our waitresses thought the Twolves were playing the Grizzlies, the food was salmon, salad, and potatoes, and the drinks were served with Lexus Courtside Club bottled water. Also, the Club itself was nothing more than a blocked off section of the normal bar (Nba City Restaurant) that I go to with my friends.
  11. The part of the game that got the crowd the most excited was a blooper clip of people falling down water skiing, tubing, etc. The funny thing is that it wasn't just the crowd that got into the clip. The Hornets players were cracking up and ignoring the coach by looking at the clip.

If you are a basketball fan then sitting courtside is a great way to watch the game. The problem with the seats is that now that I have sat there I don't want to sit anywhere else.

Quick hits
  1. What are my thoughts on the Masters? I tried watching 30 minutes during the middle of the final round today and then again at the very end. Seriously why do people watch this? I can understand the allure of playing golf with your buddies. I don't understand the appeal of golf as a spectator sport in person or on TV. On TV it seems like a lot of people clapping, walking, and talking. Occasionally a player hits the ball in the air and then randomly it falls down on a part of the course that unless obvious (water, trees, etc) is completely unrecognizable to the viewer. Also, maybe it was just today's Masters, but the lack of drama made me want to see if there was a tape of last week's Bobcats-Twolves game. Some random person won and the contest was never in doubt.
  2. Francisco Liriano made his debut today and for me it was definitely bittersweet. I remember the 2006 Liriano and to see the way he pitched today was like watching the cutest girl in your high school class show up at a reunion 30 pounds overweight. I still have hope that he can turn it around.
  3. My parents are coming to visit next week despite the fact that A) It still might be cold up here and B) There isn't a grandchild.
  4. Are UNC fans upset at Roy Williams? This one is.
  5. M asked me to put this observation on the blog. Kristen Wiig (the Target lady) is the Tyler Hansbrough of SNL and scetch comedy. Seriously she is awkward, a poor public speaker, a terrible actor, and never once has been funny.
  6. The Nba playoffs start next weekend. The Western Conference Playoffs couldn't be more intriguing and the Jazz stand as good of shot as any.
  7. As cliche as it sounds the movie 21 wasn't as good as the book Bringing Down the House. Still it was a halfway enjoyable flick.
  8. I loved Season 3 of the Wire. Nothing is better than seeing McNulty, Avon, and Stringer Bell in their respective areas of expertise.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Courtside pictures

Just in case you were wondering what the view is like from courtside:

This is unfortunatetly before I knew how to say hello in Serbian:

M and I before the game

After hearing about how Chris Paul hates Duke I had to let him know that he never won at Cameron.

I don't know if Big Al is tired or if he is rolling his eyes at the poor play from his teammates.

Rashad McCants never met a shot he didn't like (or take).

Courtside seats

Today I won a silent auction for two courtside tickets to tonight's Timberwolves-Hornets game. The face value of the tickets are $750 each. I paid (for a good cause) $110 for both of the tickets. In case you were wondering I paid 7.3% of the face value. For that $110 I get two courtside tickets, valet parking, and free drinks and food before the game and also at halftime. Just recently I paid $100 for two lower level (20 rows up on the first baseline) tickets to the Twins home opener. Who knew for only $10 more I could get courtside tickets to the Twolves? Anyway, I am taking M, who gets to celebrate not only courtside tickets, but also the end of college basketball season and the end of the Twolves season.

There will be more to come later, but for now this will have to do.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The end of UNC's season

Have you ever noticed that there is no D in North Carolina?  That is appropriate since this year's team was an excellent offensive team that sometimes struggled on D.  There was the reason why Grant Wahl wrote that UNC couldn't win the title in his annual Magic Eight column.  The end of UNC's season was marked by especially poor defense in the beginning (resulting in a 40-12 Kansas lead) and at the end.   They made a valiant comeback, but couldn't get the stops when they needed.  

The player that best exemplified UNC was the cover boy and the player of the year.  Tyler Hansbrough is known for his ability to score and rebound, but I don't think anyone would ever confuse him with Shane Battier on the defensive end.  In the Kansas game Tyler Hansbrough and UNC's post players gave up 30 points on 52% from the Jayhawk post players.  Tyler Hansbrough and UNC proved that the old adage that defense wins championships was in fact correct in San Antonio.

The Kansas win helped show the nation how over-hyped and over-rated UNC was this year. UNC played an a average non-conference schedule against a bunch of teams (Kent St, BYU, Ohio St. etc) that were good, but not great.  They never played that one game against a truly elite team.  They weren't prepared for Kansas and that lack of preparation showed from the opening tip.  Now a lot of people (Roy Williams included) are commenting on how poorly UNC coached the game.  They are mentioning how Kansas wasn't prepared and how Roy Williams just sat on his timeouts during Kansas's epic run.  I don't think the coaching was the reason for Kansas jumping on UNC from the beginning.  I think the reason was due to lack of experience against top competition.  

Some other quick hits:
  • Check out the note on Jay Bilas from the USA Today.  Here is what is written:  ESPN's jay Bilas almost had his bases covered, picking a Kansas-UCLA NCAA final on air, and picking Memphis-North Carolina online.
  • I tried Arby's Southern Style Chicken sandwich and can write that it is disappointing.  While it isn't terrible, it is terrible compared to Chick-Fil-A.  I wish that Chick-Fil-A would start their northern expansion plan, because these cheap knockoffs just don't cut it.
  • A note on the Twolves:  A guy at my office won 2 courtside tickets to see the Twolves play the Hornets and do you know what he did with them?  He offered them back up to be auctioned off for again.  I don't know if this says more about how generous this person is or how unappealing Twolves games are right now.  Needless to write I am bidding on the tickets if only for the chance to taunt "Deron is better" at Chris Paul.  Or maybe I will ask Paul about the Julius Hodge incident from his days at Wake.
  • My boss (a former MN high school basketball player) told me about Cole Aldrich and how he was such a good basketball player up here.  I then asked him if he could contact him with an offer of $500 if he could beat UNC and specifically Tyler Hansbrough.  I wonder if I will be getting a visit from Cole asking for his $500.  
  • I didn't know Tyler Hansbrough could be outworked or out-hustled.   I mean he never takes a play off....right Jay Bilas?
  • Duke is in need of a big man next year.  If only there were a 7ft 2 inch Sudanese center ranked in the top 5 of this year's class.  Oh wait there is and Duke is in the running (along with Uconn, Georgetown, and Florida) that is in the running for John Riek.  I watched a few highlights of him and while he looked like the Sudanese version of Brian Zoubek I am optimistic that 1) He is good and 2) He will pick Duke.
If Kansas wins tonight I will have picked the correct champion for the past two years.  

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"We won every tournament except for this one"

The title of this post is could be the quote of the year from Tyler Hansbrough. It was answer from a reporter asking about the season. Hansbrough said it was a good year, but they didn't play to be one of the top four teams, they played to be the top team. Then he helped recap the season by saying "We won every tournament expect for this one." Hmmm....UNC won the ACC tournament. What other tournament is he talking about? That quote is almost as bad as Shaq saying that he won everywhere except for high school and college.

Duke has plenty of players that nobody remembers that won multiple ACC championships. Tyler for a player of your caliber (player of the year, etc) the only tournament that matters is the NCAA tournament.

See you next year

I guess that the outcome of tonight's game means Tyler Hansbrough is coming back next year.   The national media has to be happy because that just makes their life that much easier.   No need to debate who to put on magazine covers or hype to be player of the year because the choice will be obvious.   Next year I expect Tyler Hansbrough to shoot 500 free throws, be on at least 5 SI covers, and block at least 20 shots.  Also, I expect that if he doesn't win the title next year for him to apply for a 5th year to try and get that elusive championship.   

M sent me this great picture of the face of college basketball

There should be more thoughts later (like Billy Packer jinxing everything by saying the game was over, which was before my brother-in-law jinxed UNC by calling me during UNC's run), but right now I am going to enjoy my victory Jameson (no Protestant whiskey as McNulty would say)  and a victory Samoa.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

One of the reasons why I don't subscribe to SI anymore

Plenty of teams (Memphis, UCLA, Kansas) and players (Stephen Curry, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley) have played incredible basketball this year and yet SI has singled out Tyler has the only college player they will put on the cover. In the past month he has been on the cover twice, which stretches his overall total to 3 times. They must have a man crush on him because it isn’t like the pictures of him are any good.

Just to give you a point of reference of how 3 times on the cover is ridiculous check out the below stats:

  • Number of SI covers Michael Jordan was on during his career at UNC: 1

  • Number of SI covers the NBA’s all time leader in assists and steals John Stockton was on: 1

  • Number of SI covers that Mlb’s former all-time leader in home run’s Hank Aaron was on during his playing career: 3

  • Number of SI covers that Duke stud JJ Redick has been on: 2 (one of them was with the entire Duke team and one was with Adam Morrison)

  • Number of SI covers that Duke was on during the two years when they won back to back National titles: 3

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Onion did write something on Tyler Hansbrough


Strong Side:
  • Only player in all of basketball who takes jump shots.
  • So modest he hasn't spoken in three weeks.
  • Heart takes up 90% of body mass.

Weak Side:

  • Cannot close his eyes
  • Extreme intensity and focus makes it impossible for him to hold a normal conversation.
  • Loses eight pints of blood per game.

Also, here is one article that is very similiar to the Mike Freeman article (which the writer refernces) I linked to less than a month ago. Tyler Hansbrough finds bin Laden.

Opening day

M and I went to the Twins opener yesterday and I can write that for at least one day Twins fans are happy. The Twins beat the Angels 3-2. Carlos Gomez (the new Torri Hunter and the only starter from the Santana trade) did better than even the most optimistic of expectations. He was able to get on base 3 times in 4 of his plate apperances, steal two bases (including one on a pitch-out), and score two runs. Also, Livan Hernandez, Delmon Young, Mike Lamb and Brendan Harris were all impressive in their debuts.

Some quick hits:
  • When one of my newly favorite writers (Clay Travis who wrote the excellent book Dixieland Delight) writes an article on one of my favorite basketball teams (Davidson) then I will always link to it: Claynation: Wondering about Davidson? Here's a small back story. As for his article I agree with Davidson academic prowess, the pride in their academic prowess, point 8 about VA Tech fans, and point 10 about the Zach Morris of the Davidson basketball team.

  • Here is the Sportsguy's take on Tyler Hansbrough from his mailbag: Speaking of Favre, he already has been replaced by Tyler Hansborough as the token "White Athlete That The Media Openly and Embarrassingly Fawns Over Because of His Work Ethic and Love For the Game." (Note: Steve Nash was the overwhelming favorite here until Hansborough too over during the tournament.) For anyone who doesn't think there's a racial component to this, you're crazy. Just look at David West of the Hornets -- like Hansborough, he's a self-made player and a staunch competitor who plays with an inordinate amount of passion, an undersized forward who routinely scores on bigger bodies, someone who extracted every ounce of his potential and made the most of it. Well, have you ever read a David West feature? Have you ever heard announcers raving about him to the point that you wondered if they were related to him? No and no. I just think it's a little, um, peculiar. We'll see if this changes during the NBA playoffs.

  • The problem with the comparison is that in the Nba Tyler Hansbrough will be lucky to be David West's backup's backup. If you compare David West's senior year you will see a much more complete player than Hansbrough. West and Hansbrough's scoring and rebounding are simliar, but as I have wrote before that is all Hansbrough can do. West averaged 3.2 assists (compared to Hansbrough's 0.9), and blocked 1.6 shots a game (compared to Hansbrough's 0.4). Other than that it is a good comparison. Both players are proflic scores who shot free throws well and owned the boards. I saw David West absolutely destroy Miami U. in college and have nothing but accolades for him as a player. Tyler Hansbrough is no David West.

  • What? An article about a UNC player not named Tyler Hansbrough. Andy Katz wrote about Ty Lawson's sprained ankle helping UNC. Just when I think Katz is going to break the national media trend of writing about Hansbrough and NOBODY else on UNC, he goes and writes about the "stud" that is Psycho T. It almost seems like he used the Lawson angle to bring up Hansbrough again. I want to read one article about Danny Green's versatility, Ty Lawson's ability to break the press, or Wayne Ellington's ridiculous confidence in his jump shot It has gotten to the point where my dislike of UNC is overshadowed with my dislike of the overrated Tyler Hansbrough and the media's obsession over the hardest working player in college basketball's history and future.

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk.