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Preview: The NBA Season Of Drew

The NBA Season Of Drew



This blog will chronicle my attempt to visit all 30 NBA Arenas during the 2007-08 season. You can now post comments without signing up for an account. Just click on the comments link and select anonymous. Contact info: Drew Cieszynski 2637 N. Freder



Updated: 2014-10-07T00:04:43.089-05:00

 



Drew's New Blog

2009-08-05T12:09:49.530-05:00

Hey everyone, I'm dusting off my keyboard and my credit card for my next BIG TOUR!
11 straight weekends of BIG TEN football. Follow my much-improved website/commentary at www.THEbig10tour.com

Thanks

Drew



The NBA Finals!!!

2008-08-07T21:47:36.617-05:00

Here it was...the culmination of the NBA Tour. As I previously mentioned, the Los Angeles Lakers gave me the opportunity to purchase 2 tickets at face value for Game 3 of the NBA FINALS. 10 months ago, the thought of seeing a game outside of Milwaukee or Chicago didn't even cross my mind; now I had not only seen 30 arenas, but I was achieving my dream and watching the NBA Finals. LA was pretty ramped up for the Finals, despite being down 0-2. As soon as I stepped off of the metro, I saw that the arena had been ramped up for their presentation of the NBA Finals. A fan-fest going on outside where you could shoot hoops, sample free Craisins, or even watch people walk around with TV's built into their outfits. There were plenty of photo opportunities to let people know you were there. I can't believe the NBA would let people walk all over its trophy. There were a variety of entertaining T-shirts to be found around the arena. The gentleman below was waiting in a line that wrapped around the building, just hoping for an opportunity to purchase a ticket that had opened up. He kept himself entertained with a Celtics jersey. Even this trophy was guarded by security. The outside patio was a pretty lively crowd - especially when someone wearing green showed up. In an effort to promote the new Disney movie W.A.L. - E, they had this robot out front heading down the read carpet into the STAPLES Center. This segment aired at 8:30 EST on ABC during & what do you know - I made it on. Here's to another banner being raised shortly... & of course Jack Nicholson was there in his customary seats. Player introductions. American Idol winner David Cook signs the national anthem. Delivery of game ball from Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson. Is that Joe Crawford doing the tipoff and not bickering with Tim Duncan? Odom bringing the ball down the court Eddie House putting up a jumper After a Ray Allen jumper KG on the post The best dance team in the NBA Sasha Vujacic, resigned recently, shooting a jumper. The celebrities were out in full force Hugh Hefner and the girls Hillary Duff Steven Spielberg Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers Slyvester Stallone and Eddie Murphy Dustin Hoffman and finally JACK!...not to be confused with Jack... But these are my people... Don't know if you can tell or not, but the basket was loaded with A/V equipment. How bittersweet! Leaving the Staples Center after a great night! Despite the risk of having anyone who reads this call me a pussy and endless mocking from my friends that will ensue, I must say that when I heard the Laker's Public Address Announcer, Lawerence Tanter, say "Welcome to Game 3 of the NBA Finals," I started to tear up a bit. Very emotional for me as I achieved what was my most desired goal of the season & this being the culmination of it all. Wow, I made it to the NBA Finals. So I guess that's it - the tour is over. Back to watching games on TV and sitting in the upper level like everyone else. But allow me one last attempt to show you what type of person I am. I live for now, I seize today, and I regret nothing. Thus, I commemorated my travels on my back. The Great Dan Lins, who motivated me to become the person I am today, was kind enough to tattoo the design I created for me. His home base is at Hollywood Ink, but he travels all over the world to tattoo. Click the link on over his name if you'd like to set up an appointment. The tattoo took 5 straight hours, with a 5 minute break halfway through. The theme was to create a skyline of everywhere I've been. Difficult to see in a picture, but from left to right: Tower of the Americas - San Antonio One PPG Place - Pittsburgh 225 South Sixth - Minneapolis Bell South building - Nashville Wells Fargo building (cash register) - Denver Excalibur Hotel - Las Vegas Empire State Building - New York Bank of America Center - Houston Washington Monument - Washington DC Emerald Plaza - San D[...]



Update

2008-08-07T08:12:51.467-05:00

Hi everyone - sorry for the extreme delay. Upon return from the Finals, my laptop died on me. So obviously all of my photos were on there - collecting them all from the Internet sites that I uploaded them to has been a challenge. My new laptop should arrive in the next week or two.

I also moved to a new residence to save money and am trying to get my financial life in order.

Beyone even that, keep in mind that Milwaukee has approximately 3-4 good months of weather a year - so when I'm not working 10 or more hours a day, I try to get outside and enjoy it



The NBA Finals?

2008-06-04T07:47:07.887-05:00

Today, I proudly announce that with the assistance of the Los Angeles Lakers very professional staff, it appears that I will achieve the big goal of this tour - Attending the NBA FINALS!!! The plan is to attend Game 3 in Los Angeles on Tuesday June 10th. Some are saying this will be the highest rated NBA Finals in history?

I should also note however that the Dallas Mavericks & Detroit Pistons also guaranteed me spots had they made it, so heartfelt thanks to them as well.

Funny thing is that I had no interest in the LA Lakers when the season started, yet through the scheduling process I saw them more than any other team during my tour. On Tuesday night, I will enter the STAPLES CENTER as a Lakers fan. Typically, when you hear of a Red Sox fan or a Lakers fan, you think of the bandwagon...however isn't my scenario is a bit different? I've grown to enjoy this franchise because despite all of success, Mr. Black had the time to answer my requests in a timely fashion, Mr. Cardona got me the needed materials for my blog without needing a follow-up. Bottom line - a front office that cares for its fans is more important than all else to me.

But look who our opponent is...the Boston Celtics. Wouldn't it be just plain beautiful karma if I were to witness ... part of the Lakers dismantling the Celtics, the only team to not help the NBA Tour? Isn't this the ultimate fairy tale ending for me - the number 1 goal of this tour and my ultimate dream, the NBA FINALS, being in attendance as the Lakers take down the franchise that showed me I was not even worth their email response?



Milwaukee Bucks (#30)

2008-06-02T23:38:20.516-05:00

Hey thanks for checking back on my blog! It's been a few weeks since I've updated as I've been trying to catch up on my financial situation, my job, and most importantly ... rest. Tonight in an effort to get back on track financially, I signed a lease for a new apartment that will have zero amenities, but hopefully save me over $250 a month - building towards the next "tour."Check back in July and August as I've going to post a "reflection," which should contain some good insight. I've held back heavily during this blog so that children could go through it and in hopes that I'd be semi-tasteful in case the NBA actually wanted to notice me. Possibly more importantly however, could be my NBA FINALS post. Now, for the final arena...my new home...The Milwaukee Bucks.So here it was, April 12 in Milwaukee and surprise, surprise...it was snowing. Now sit back and think about this for a minute. During my travels, coupled with my full time job, my biggest obstacle was the weather. Milwaukee recorded its 2nd-worst winter of all time! Remember I had nine round trip flights and 6 big roadtrips leaving from Milwaukee (Chicago, Minneapolis, Toronto, Cleveland, & Indianapolis all encountering weather problems. Yet outside of a $1,000 accident on my shortest trip, Chicago, I did not get into any fender-benders or have any flight delays/cancellations. Milwaukee's General Mitchell airport had more delays and cancellations than ever before.This day however, would be easy travels as I only live a few blocks from the Bradley Center. With me for this final game would be Scott Bellmyer as he collaborated on many of my tactics to get this accomplished and more importantly, made my job a lot easier whenever I returned from my trips.The Bradley Center has one of my favorite locations in all of the league. Within approximately 3 blocks east of the arena is probably over 20 watering holes to stop at before or after the game.Regardless of which side that you enter the arena, you'll enter through one of the two large atriums where you'll see a variety of activities that range from live bands to local radio talkshows being broadcast live.Just like every other arena, I had no idea what the Bucks had in store or where I would be seated. I quickly found that I would be seated in the Midwest Airlines seats, located courtside opposite the Bucks' bench. If you're not familiar with Midwest Airlines, you may not want to waste your time getting to know them as they'll likely be purchased by a competitor in the near future. The most characteristic thing about the Milwaukee-based airline however, is the "baked-on-board" chocolate chip cookies. Scott and I were entitled to one cookie each...Now many of you know that my favorite part of the NBA game is the player introductions. I don't care what David Stern says about them, I think they really get the adrenaline going and I always dreamed of being introduced in front of thousands of people.Well I found out that today, I would be a part of the player introductions! I would be riding out on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle after all of the players were introduced. One the Bucks starting lineup was announced, the sounds of a Harley engine came from one of the tunnels and the public address announcer told the over 14,000 in attendance about my journey that started in Salt Lake City on November 3rd and would conclude on this very evening as I rode out w/ Bango, the Bucks mascot. I still have to bother the Bucks staff a few more times for video of this, but check out some still shots below:Raising my hands to the roar of the crowdAfter Crossing the FINISH LINEThe thumbs-up from Bango & being escorted away from an Energee Dance Team member (I must add at this point, I had no idea what was going on, I was so blown-away by everything)!Crossing the finish line (this picture and the one below are compliments of Getty Images).Finally, what I call the million dollar photo. Check me out on t[...]



Milwaukee City Portion

2008-06-02T23:39:30.518-05:00

Give your computer a few moments to load...So here's the Introduction to where I live...if you want to get technical, here's the building I live in.If I had to pick one thing Milwaukee was known for, I'd have to say the Miller Brewery. I still rank the Coors & Budweiser brewery tours as better, but this is a good time and you get 3 free beers and a small bag of pretzels at the end.Here you see myself and Tim Workinger, who felt his career in accounting was too intense for him to join me for a game in the NBA tour, at the start of the Miller Tour.Here, Shea Sterner shows us that people can wear skull t-shirts and act civilized in the Miller Caves.All of this beer will be displaced within 24 hours.ProductionHonestly, if you want some good brewery tours, check out Lakefront Brewery. For only $5, you get the tour, 4 full glass samples and you get to keep the glass you drink the samples out of.Another tour, I've yet to try is the Sprecher Brewery.Or you could try one of the much smaller tours...such as the RockBottom Brewery (national chain).Or the Milwaukee Ale House...Or the Water Street Brewery...Unfortunately, there isn't much Schlitz around anymore.The Pabst Brewery is becoming a residential area...Forgetting the breweries, you could just go buy your beer at one of the local watering holes. Water Street is the home to most of them.Or if you don't want to walk for a tour or sit in a bar, why not take a boat?The Milwaukee "booze cruise" stops at 3 different breweries along the Milwaukee river, with lots of sampling at each.Probably the landmark of Milwaukee if the Art Museum. This is most interesting because it changes throughout the day. 3 times a day, the wings rise.Of course, there is Miller Park, which never experiences a rain-out.Where the tailgating is the best I've experienced (here we see Nate Bollinger participating in Lasso Golf/Blongo Ball).Of course the big celebrities are the Sausages. The Bratwurst, The Chorizo, The Hot Dog, and the Italian Sausage.But with a last name like Cieszysnki, my loyalty is with the Polish Sausage.Individuals that have never seen a one of the 5 Great Lakes often fail to understand the immense size of the them.How about some of the Milwaukee architecture?The Milwaukee Hilton, featuring a small indoor water park.Milwaukee TheaterThe Midwest Airline Center. Apparently this convention center could hold 555 city buses, end to end.The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel buildingMilwaukee Historical SocietyMilwaukee Public LibraryFrom Memorial Day through Labor Day, you can bring a bottle of wine and a blanket and experience Jazz in the Park.Time for all of America to inherit these. Why do we need parking meters anymore when more people carry credit cards than change.Street signs...The US Bank buildingThere's even skyscrapers on the parking garages.You may notice the skywalk crossing the river and connecting the buildings; typically a way to deal with the winter.Notice the skywalk below; it's the only skywalk in the United States that spans a river used by boats.The Milwaukee RiverwalkIt's great to rent kayaks for the day and go up and down the river, stopping at restaurants and bars along the way... I can't really talk about it too much, but make sure you try out the Safe-House in Milwaukee. It may be a bit tough to find, but ask around and you'll get there.Many visitors come to Milwaukee every summer for Summerfest, the World's Largest Music Festival.Upon the Summerfest grounds, there are several concerts going on at once. There's the US Cellular Stage -The Harley Davidson Stage (currently in construction) - The Miller Lite stage - The Potowatami Bingo & Casino stage (by the way, you may want to check out the Casino during your visit) - The Briggs & Straton stage - Then there's the headliner stage, the Marcus Amphitheater.Big Ben? The Allen Bradley Clocktower is recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest 4-faced clock in the world, wi[...]



Charlotte Bobcats (#29)

2008-05-04T00:06:36.623-05:00

After a lovely 4 hour drive, Craig and I arrived in Charlotte. It was yet another day of disgusting NBA Tour weather, so Craig and I weren't able to do too much sightseeing. We arrived at the arena a bit early and met Michael Thompson who provided us with two great seats. What is best about the arena is that there is a bus terminal right across the street and the train stops right next to the arena as well. Plenty of transportation to and from the games. Parking wasn't too expensive either.When we were there on April 6, it was known as Charlotte Bobcats Arena. By April 8, it would be known as Time Warner Cable Arena. This is a shame because it's another corporate name, but even more so because Time Warner Cable provides some of the worst service I've ever dealt with.Fans can peer into the practice court from outside the arena.Unfortunately the Bobcats asked Ron Laurita to show us around. Of all my visits, he was THE MOST comfortable person to speak with. He was clearly annoyed that we were there and had no interest in answering any of our questions. We followed him around for a bit, but he wasn't pointing out any sights or making the slightest effort to converse with us. Eventually, we couldn't keep up with his speed-walking and were questioning ourselves as to why we were even near this guy. Some views of the court.Mr. Thompson gave us two passes to "Back Court," which is a club that select ticket holders can access before, during, and after the game. At halftime, we were able to enter and get free soft drinks as well as other appetizers. It was a bit annoying though because there was also a band inside that made it so obnoxiously loud that you couldn't hold a discussion with the person next to you. Some shots from around the arena.What surprised me most was that for such a new arena - it still had the "cement palace" feel and lots of empty spots. While the Bobcats don't have a lot of history, you would think they would find something to fill all of this empty space, whether it be a revenue-creator, art, or something relating to the franchise."Frequent Fryers," "Pie in the Sky" just to name a few.There is lots of interesting artwork throughout the arena. Throughout there are all sorts of references to Charlotte's heritage, including the ticket office and the concessions.The franchise definitely sells the Jordan name. Many references to Jordan throughout the arena, including his shoes. The team apparel is the only apparel in the league with the Jordan logo.I guess they have to remind you where you're drinking the Bud Light, which was enjoyable with my panini.Prior to the game, we saw some interesting personalities...Ray Allen working out with his midget friend. Allen wouldn't play in the game that night.It even looks like the Celtics have a certified leprechaun on their payroll...If it wasn't embarrassing enough to have the nickname of "Big Baby," he also had to sport this ridiculous haircut.Adam Morrison and Sean May working their way back from injuries. Looks like Morrison still won't part with that moustauche. I'm guessing that this was Brian Scalabrine's son?Some views of the scoreboard. Clearly my favorite to date and is officially the largest video screen in the NBA.Mascot RufusTip-offI really lucked out seeing the "after" effects of many of the key NBA transactions in the second half of the season. Just when you couldn't take any more of the Rihanna "Umbrella" song, the dance team has a whole performance based on the song.The halftime act was Dan Menendez, the Piano Juggler. One of my favorite acts to date. - Just when we had all forgotten about him, Earl Boykins shows up with another team.Unfortunately, the so-called "Big Three" all sat out this game. Ray Allen actually made it to the bench in his suit, but Garnett and Pierce were no where to be found.I would've believed this to be an easy win for the Bobcats. The Celtics reserve[...]



Atlanta Hawks (#28)

2008-04-27T18:19:28.996-05:00

My final roadtrip of the (regular) season would take me to both Atlanta and Charlotte. Philips Arena. Referred to by the Hawks as the Highlight Factory. If you look closely at the outside, you see the word "Atlanta" spelled out.The really went from one extreme to the other here. Below, we see one of the league's great scoreboards, but look at the photo below that. You see all of the banners, but below that you see some minor league scoreboards. You couldn't make out some of the images on these LED boards.Near section 119 is the "Fro-Zone"I hand it to Atlanta - it's the best arena to grab a beer. The opportunities to get a beer are everywhere and beyond just your "Big 3" beers, you have many choices from locals brewers, Heineken, and more! Check out some of the other eateries. Notice that the entrances to each section are known as "Portals."The Philips Experience. All sorts of games and such going on. Strangely enough, even an orchestra playing on this evening.Me taking some shots on goal.Before tipoff, Spirit the Hawk flies down from the upper-most suite and lands on the arm of someone standing at center court.A look at the full court.What makes this arena most unique is that one side is just loaded with suites. Most importantly is the Heineken suite, which includes a spiral staircase.The other side of the arena.A VERY late arriving crowd in Atlanta. Notice on the clock that there is approximately 6 minutes until tipoff. Next, notice the amount of seats that are filled.While walking through the concourse, two girls offered us the opportunity to exchange our tickets for comparable tickets and the opportunity to meet Dominique Wilkins. While I have great respect for "The Human Highlight Film," I just wanted to stay my course in my current seat and enjoy the game. Below is Dominique laughing at Harry the Hawk.Now here we are at tip-off. Notice again the amount of seats filled now.Harry the Hawk. What is funniest about this mascot is that his lower jaw is not locked in place, so with his every move, his jaw is constantly flapping up and down.SkyHawk is another mascot that makes occasional appearances for the more risky stunts.I'm not entirely sure, but I think this is former NBA All-Star Tyrone Hill sitting courtside.Mike Bibby, now in a Hawks uniform, leading them to their first playoff spot in 9 years.Here we see Bibby shooting over Samuel Dalembert, but unfortunately the shot would not fall and he finished shooting 1-11. He was a bit better at distributing the ball, tallying 11 assists.Josh Childress puts up a shot and Iguodala jumps for the block.Iguodala was contributing on the offensive end as well. Shown here finishing a dunk after a steal.Now this was very clever. Hanging above each basket were large black boxes that would emit flames throughout the game. Every time the flames would shoot upwards, a message would appear on the scoreboard, telling fans that playoff tickets were now available and how they could be purchased. Now I'm clearly not attending any Hawks playoff games (unless the NBA Finals), but I gotta tell ya...every time those flames went up, my attention turned to that scoreboard. Very effective ticket sales tactic!Coming into the game, Atlanta held a 5 game winning streak. These two talented teams kept it close all game, and it was even tied up with less than 7 minutes to play. The Sixers just some great offense from their 3 leaders: Iguodala (30), Andre Miller (23), and Dalembert (15). The Hawks youngsters couldn't slow them down consistently and it was the Sixers clinching a playoff spot, winning 109-104. I've got to say, watching these young Hawk players was some of the most fun I've had all season. Josh Smith's dunks and blocked shots were all too entertaining.Al Horford putting up a shot. I've seen this guy twice now and I think he should be rookie of the year. No discredit to Kevin Durant[...]



Atlanta city portion

2008-04-27T18:18:37.077-05:00

Atlanta. Mother Nature was once again showing her disapproval of the NBA tour by dumping rain and fog upon the city. I brought sandals to wear, but they didn't even make it out of the suitcase. So once again, I'll have to revert to older pictures of my visit there in 2006.I get the feeling that this city really saw a re-birth when the Olympics came through. You may remember Centennial Olympic Park...Some of the reflecting pools.Said to be the World's Largest Aquarium, housing whale sharks, a hammerhead shark, and even some beluga whales.Typically the symbol of Atlanta, the Georgia Dome looks to have withstood the recent tornadoes.Having fun outside of the High Museum of Art. This is known as Cartoon House III.Some of the best skyscrapers in the country, including Peachtree Tower and the Westin. Below is yet another Bank of America building.If you head out towards Turner Field, you can see the Olympic Torch.While I didn't take any photos of it, make sure you check out "The Underground." It's basically lots of shopping recessed below the sidewalk. All kinds of food and other vendors.Coca-Cola World. Get there early - lots of long lines. If you look close, you can see the gold dome of the Atlanta state capital building.The CNN Center - attached to Phillips Arena.This time around, I decided to stop at Stone Mountain, which is one of the largest pieces of exposed granite in the world.Unfortunately this place is a popular "field trip" destination for young children, which completely ruins the beauty of the place. Within an hour, I was so annoyed with all of the rugrats' yelling and screaming that I had to get out of there immediately If you want to enjoy this place, I would recommend going some time when you suspect that kids wouldn't be there.You take a tram up the the top. Now some of these pictures will look like they are from another planet. The fog was so dense that you couldn't see 50 feet in front of you. I'm told that on a clear day, you can see the Atlanta skyline.The Confederate Memorial Carving. Features Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, & Thomas J. Jackson.Don't leave Georgia without having a peach![...]



Detroit Pistons (#27)

2008-04-16T00:17:23.721-05:00

"Basketball Fans from around the great state of MEEEEE-chigan, and those of you at the Palace from all around the world; get up get up get up on your feet, time to meet & greet, the ballers representing the Detroit Pistons." -John MasonHonestly, I'll admit it. When scheduling this arena tour, the Pistons were one of those games that I anticipated just fitting in to be part of the tour. I wasn't excited about this particular weekend at all. Little did I know it would prove to be my favorite stop of the tour.After visiting Ford Field and Comerica Park a year earlier, I anticipated the Pistons arena would be in downtown Detroit as well. Unfortunately, this was FAR from the truth. Auburn Hills is a good 20 minutes outside of the city, and even stranger is that there is NOTHING around the Palace. There is a gas station and a bar across from the arena, and a McDonalds maybe 1/2 of a mile down the street, but other than that...nothingness!Inside, Wes and I met Ryan Pretzer where the cheerleaders were practicing warm-ups.Ryan took us to the atrium (a newer addition) to the Palace, where we met Dave Wieme, who would give us a tour of the Palace. In the lobby was a giant shoe; take a look: The first thing Dave mentions is that The Palace was built back in 1988, making it one of the older facilities in the league. He also noted that some younger child won the contest to name the arena and received free tickets for life - so if your city is building an arena, start thinking up names. Rather than selling the name of the arena to a corporation, they name different sections of the the arena for different businesses such as the Key Bank Club or the Caeser's Windsor Club.The first thing I noticed while walking around was that the concourse and hallways were WIDE open and SPACIOUS. There wasn't that claustrophobic feel that I had in many of the other arenas around the league.Now I'm going to try and remember back to many of these places, so if I get anything below incorrect, shoot me an email or comment on the site.The first of many nice restaurant/bars I saw was Club 53. This club is used for many private parties/receptions. Decorated with cherry wood and stone, a fireplace, and a round bar, this club was a very cozy setting. The suite of Piston's owner, William Davidson. Equipped with a sliding glass door that allows one to get away from all of the action. Not a bad view either! In the hallways below the seats, you see quite a bit of cable. The amount of cable is said to triple during the NBA Finals. I pray that I get to show everyone reading a photo of that cable tripling this June.The Key Bank Club, making you forget that you're even at a basketball game. When you go through the club, you'll see probably the best suites in the NBA. Unfortunately, there were some fans in these suites while I had the opportunity to look in and I didn't want to take a photo and disturb them. Some of the other suites are nothing to scoff at. While in Indianapolis, Jeff McCoy told me that I had to see the bunker suites in Detroit. The Pistons staff didn't let me down.A piss-poor photo, but below is the Ameriprise Financial Club and below that is the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club. Ryan then took us to the Food Court, which was one of the most extensive in the league, featuring a Red Bull bar, a margarita bar, and a slew of hot dog choices at the Barcardi stand. While you could choose hot dogs styled after Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami...I went with the local choice, the "Detroiter." I must add that after visiting Detroit for the 3rd time in 3 years, I've noticed that Bob's Big Boy and Little Caesar's Pizza are ridiculously popular in this area. Before heading to our seats, we took a look at the upper-most suites. Afraid of heights?From up there, I noticed the retired names/numbers printed on the cour[...]



Detroit city portion

2008-04-16T00:16:40.161-05:00

It seems that every time I've been to Detroit, it has been in passing and I haven't had the opportunity to wholly take in the city. If there's one thing you're guaranteed to find, it is casinos...lots of them everywhere.Greektown, and the casino downtown is always a good place to start.You're sure to find some automakersThe Fox TheaterRight across the lake from Detroit is Windsor, Canada.The "People Mover (cement structure)" is the way to get around.The Joe Louis fistOne of the most beautiful modern stadiums - Comerica Park.There's an interesting bar across the street from the stadium. Anything look odd here?View from the bar of both Comerica and Ford FieldThe GM Renaissance CenterTiger Stadium still somehow standing. The area around has died however, the roads haven't been repaired and it looks like several businesses around the park have folded.If you're a cereal fan, maybe you want to stop in Battle Creek, Michigan.I don't know how I stumbled upon it...well being from central Pennsylvania - I'm close to cities such Blue Ball, Intercourse, and Paradise. And I was even close to the infamous Centralia. It was probably after driving through Santa Claus, Indiana that I researched cities with strange names. Then I cam across a gem. No, I'm not kidding...it's Hell, Michigan.Check out the souvenir t-shirt.The Dam Site Inn - apparently appeals to people who like 2-wheeled vehicles.No joke...you can be married in Hell's chapel.Last item. Everywhere I go, I get a souvenir postcard, however while in Detroit I neglected (well not neglected, Wes can explain) to get a postcard. If someone in the Detroit area could send me a Detroit postcard (un-addressed in an envelope), I will send you a $10 check. Please help![...]



Minnesota Timberwolves (#26)

2008-04-13T22:01:32.351-05:00

So I choose to visit Minneapolis late in March, thinking it would avoid the difficult weather of one of the northernmost NBA cities. Once again, I was dead wrong. Leaving Milwaukee at about 5 PM, I drove right into the heart of another snowstorm. Visibility was next to none and a typical 4 and a 1/2 hour trip took nearly 7 hours to complete.Myself, Adrienne, Paul, and Jen arrived at the Target Center several hours before tip-off. I was disappointed that the Timberwolves visit would overlap March Madness, but we actually got to watch the Duke loss while we were in Jeff Munneke's office (VP of Client Development).The Target Center couldn't have a better location. It's located right downtown with LOTS of access to restaurants/bars etc. To battle off the cold, many of these places are connected by skywalks & if you're using bus transportation, many of the bus stops are heated (see photos in my city portion).The first thing we had the opportunity to do was to sit in on a staff meeting before the real game operations began. This was one of my favorite parts of all of my visits because I gained an idea of what working for an NBA team would be like. I would even permitted to give a speech about why I was there that evening. A lot of the focus in the meeting revolved around specific groups or individuals would be at the game tonight (& even Drew Cieszynski made the list!). They also discussed how their arena has the ability to look a bit more full on a given night because they only have an upper and lower section(rather than Conseco where you have 3 sections of seating). Lastly, they touched on the opposing team, the New York Knicks, and what promotions they had been running recently to capture fans.The first, and probably most interesting place Jeff showed us was up above the arena...in "the rafters" if you will. It's tough to get a real idea of how big these arenas are until you look down from above.It's so dark up there that it was difficult to take photos, but I needed some proof that I made it to the top.After showing us around some more of the arena, we went to NBA City for some drinks and the Wolves treated us to dinner at the Lexus lounge.Paul is enjoying this too much! We made our way back out to the court where Rashad McCants was ensuring that his free throw percentage would be better than Shaq's.In this next spot, I could easily put, "Here's a picture of Mark Madsen hitting on some women." But unfortunately I won't because he was such a nice guy signing autographs for the kids and talking to everyone around him. I think he is clearly the T'Wolves most popular player. When he got into the game late in the 4th quarter, the crowd went crazy. Everytime "Mad Dog" touched the ball, the crowd suddenly awoke and started yelling and screaming.Next, I had the opportunity to conduct a radio interview with Billy McKinney, who is one of the most respected NBA personalities around the league. Former player, assistant coach, scout, and administrator, he is now the Radio Analyst for the Timberwolves. Photo Time!Me, my Minnesota Twins t-shirt (from '06 baseball tour), and Crunch1) myself, Crunch, Adrienne, and Paul. (2) myself and Jen. (3) me and some of the dance team/cheerleaders. The courtHopefully we'll see Kevin Garnett's number up there someday.So we finally took our 4 seats under the basket (thank you T'Wolves) and the players were introduced to Timbaland's "The Way I Are."Tip-offOk, you want an interesting character? I spent the first few minutes of the game saying to myself, "What the H*ll?" "Who is this guy?" Sitting (well not sitting) courtside opposite the Knicks bench was this guy. This guy, not a coach, but some guy. He was dressed in a business suit and spent the game kneeling in front of his game. Every[...]



Minneapolis city portion

2008-04-13T22:02:11.251-05:00

I stayed in downtown Minneapolis for this trip as the city has one of the most beautiful, safe, and entertaining downtowns in the country.One of the most likely to be seen items on Minneapolis postcards is the "Spoonbridge with Cherry."Unfortunately you can't actually climb on or walk across this bridge. It is a beautiful site in the Walker Art Museum Sculpture Garden. The Stem of the Cherry actually works as a water sprinkler.The Art Museum itself.Minneapolis was known for it's many flour mills. The remains of some of the mills still stand.The Mill City Museum. Built within the remains of an old mill. Minnehaha Falls is also a great stop. It's located within a big park that can let you get away from the big city without going too far away.Of course, St. Paul is right down the street from Minneapolis (hence the Twin Cities). The author of "Peanuts," Charles Schultz, is from St. Paul. The Mississippi& who could forget US Olympic Hockey Coach Herb Brooks.While it doesn't have the popularity that it once did, the Mall of America is something to check out.More shots of downtown Minneapolis. The sculpture of Mary Tyler Moore.Heated bus stopNotice the skywalksI thought I'd share another place that I've encountered in my travels. During my MLB tour in 2006, I had a some time to spare between my visits to the Colorado (Denver) Rockies game and the Minnesota (Minneapolis) Twins. While it was several hours out of my way, I decided to stop at Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.Still one of the most beautiful places I've seen to date. It's very tough to get to because there are no major airports nearby, but if you get the opportunity to stop it, it's very worthwhile.Can you spot the person atop George Washington?The 4 big guys...George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.Wildlife running around everywhere.Miles and miles of trees in the background.[...]



New Orleans Hornets (#25) - game

2009-07-27T20:49:44.374-05:00

No, that's not a typo. It is the NEW ORLEANS Hornets, no longer Charlotte. To most of us basketball fans, that's common knowledge. However, I've found that many people I've come across were dumbfounded by the fact that New Orleans has a franchise or by the fact that Charlotte does not have the Hornets.When you see pictures of New Orleans, you often see the Superdome. If you look at bit closer, you can see the New Orleans Arena, dwarfed by the much larger football facility.Out front, Cobaugh & I were enjoying "Buzzfest" with live music and $1 beers.New Orleans was the home of the 2008 All-Star game. In the photo below, you can see that they are finally starting to tear down all of the advertising. Keep in mind I wanted to go to this event as part of my tour, but unfortunately this game is only for the media and celebrities.I started showing myself around the arena & found Face Painters, a French Market, the Crescent City Cafe, and a Hairspray Station. Some nifty "hive" lighting fixturesSome great food throughout the arena. Check out this one w/ Jamalaya, Crawfish, and Alligator.A view from up high. Judging by the cock-eyed photos, I had a little too many drinks at Buzzfest.Then I found "The Shoe." I must have played this 23 times before going back to my seat. Unfortunately, some child under the age of 12 beat me on multiple occasions. The Audubon Cafe & Winery.When the Hornets players came out for warm-ups, the players started throwing out t-shirts. I saw one land several rows in front of me and went on offense. I jumped the first row but didn't make it over the second, but i kept pushing, hopping two more rows of seats, reaching down and grabbing the t-shirt. I beat some old man by a second, who tried to hit it out of my hands and then swung at me. I said, "Whoa, are you okay buddy?" To which he replied, "No!" in a very child-like voice. What makes this even funnier is that he had already caught one of them. Check out the bruise I got from trying to jump the seats. #25 in the booksThe only two retired #'s of the franchise. "Pistol" Pete Maravich from his days with the New Orleans Jazz & Bobby Phills, who lost his life while racing his car against David Wesley.Oh no, it's Gospel night!Before the start of every game, they do an invocation. I believe they are the only team in the league to do such a thing.Hugo the HornetOne of the best hot dogs I've had to date.Player intros The tipoffPeja letting it fly...Chris Paul. MVP candidate of course. What was absolutely most interesting about the game was that every time CP3 scored, the entire crowd started yelling "Woooooooo." For those of you who are familiar with professional wrestling (WCW, WWF), the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair used to and still does give a "Woooo." There were even portions of the game where they would show a clip of Flair on the jumbotron holding a basketball and giving a "Woooooooo." The fans were consistent, yelling it out after every Chris Paul jump shot, free throw, or layup.Capital One. It's not just a credit card anymore.Vince Carter going in for the dunk.During the 3rd quarter a man came into our section with a microphone & went down to seats below us. The mascot and several members followed. I thought to myself "Hmmm, the representatives from the Hornets told me that they might send a sideline reporter over to me during the game." Then I saw one of the cheerleaders holding a ball that said "ANDREW." I thought that was one too many coincidences and said to the cheerleader, "hey, I'm Andrew!" Her response was, "Sure, everybody wants to be Andrew." I assume that she expected some guy in a suit or something, but I'd like to thank that cheerleader for depriving me of that opportunity. Tyso[...]



New Orleans - city portion

2008-04-07T22:14:48.396-05:00

The trip to New Orleans would be a challenging one...As I left Dallas, I went out to the rent-a-car...only to find snow.The 8 hour drive was brutal as the precipitation did not stop.But eventually, I arrived to the swamp.Our view from the hotel in New Orleans.The St. Charles avenue streetcar is the oldest running street railway in the world.Now as I get into the "city" portion, we stray from the conservative side a bit, but I'll still try and keep it clean as the little brothers and little sisters out there are reading. When you hear New Orleans, you first think "Bourbon Street." All kinds of places on Bourbon & the French Quarter. Let's start with some of the touristy spots:Margaritaville w/ an Island LagerA stop at Pat O'Briens w/ Jason CobaughYou've got to stop and have a HurricanePractically every store is stockpiled with beads & hot sauce. Personally I don't know why people spend a lot of money on extravagant beads. Beads are beads. They will all lead to a bare chest.St. Louis CathedralConstant Horse & Carriage rides going on.Golden Boy offering a pose. Not to worry, Silver Man is on his way. Some images of the famed Bourbon StreetYou'll also find these on every block. Fire meets waterStreet PerformersFats Domino and friendsI will warn you that you absolutely want to stay on the mainstream streets during the day and not deviate from St. Charles or Bourbon Street during the night. Be absolutely cautious of where you go because before you know it, you could be stopping in to problematic territory. It's best to keep walking when someone tries to talk to you on the street. If you give them an "in," they'll leech onto you and won't go away until you give them a free ride.People on Balconies by day and by night. This was pretty hysterical. A "noble savage" (not too flattering of an image) and the child with a bodybuilder body and even funnier is that they have to call out "with grapes!"Then there's the Tropical Isle. Wow! This place is fun! Laying all over the streets, you're bound to find little plastic hand grenades as well as tall cups w/ a grenade at the base.It's a drink...calm down.Yes, I realize it's entirely disguisting, but where else can you compete against your friend in a pissing contest?Getting ready to drive home? Grab a straw and try it out?Two things to notice in the picture below. The Beignut Mix (which are similar to doughnuts) and of course, the sign that warns us of all of the dangers of New Orleans.Enjoying some 65 oz Miller Lites with new friendsHaving ANOTHER Hand Grenade and a "Tropical Itch." Each one comes with a back scratcher.Throughout the bar are baskets to shoot your miniature grenades into. Check out Cobaugh sizing up a shot. What you see here is a liquor tap. The white portion is all frozen over iceAh yes, enjoying beer in a brown paper bag. Even better is the can design. The hand grenade even rears its head hereEvery other establishment on Bourbon street has these and pizzaWhat they fail to tell you is that the constant "brain-freeze" will prevent you from drinking more than 3.Some of the best food I've had anywhere. Let's start with some alligator.Then some crawfish and jalapeno hush-puppiesThe Taste of New Orleans: Jambalaya, Gumbo, Red Beans & RiceDowntown Harrah's casino.New Orleans aquarium.The Riverwalk. Contains all types of stores, but most importantly the Mardi Gras store. The above ground cemeteries of New Orleans are often called "cities of the dead" for obvious reasons.Fan boat rides are always fun. Keep an eye out for the gators!We'll leave you with the Joan of Arc statueThanks to Jason Cobaugh, Harold Kaufman, and Garrick Amos.[...]



Dallas Mavericks (#24)

2008-04-01T07:27:27.811-05:00

"Everything is bigger in Texas" Now before you begin reading this next installment, click to play the song below. It'll all make sense in a couple of minutes. So Arena #24 would be my final stop in Texas, to visit the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. When I began to write the Dallas Mavericks, I feared that they would be one of the more difficult teams to contact. This was far from the truth as Matt Miller got back to me almost immediately after I sent my email and followed up with me on multiple occasions. My first goal in Dallas was to meet Mark Cuban. Unfortunately however, he was out of town for this game so I'd be cheering the Mavericks on without him. When I first set foot in the arena, I was amazed at the size of the place...it felt bigger than any of the others I had visited. Right off the bat I noticed that the "cheer sticks" were on every seat before the fans even came in. Great idea by the Mavericks! Of course this is an added expense to them, but rather than having fans fight over these or some fans receiving preferential treatment, everyone in the arena got to annoy the person in front of them with these. Matt showed us around the concourse, which included a gift shop with talking Mark Cuban & Dirk Nowitzki dolls. Keep your eye one the floor. From the domes above you can make out designs of a basketball player/hockey player/etc. To the angry reader who doesn't like to see me eating out at the basketball game, you might want to close your eyes and scroll down now. The Mavs treated Shea and I to dinner at the Jack Daniels restaurant. From the restaurant, you have a variety of great foods (including Dr. Pepper wings) and great views. On one side, you can view the players running past as they take the court. **Note that this sign is highly appropriate for this game as the Houston Rockets would be going for consecutive win number 17. On the other side, you can watch the Mavericks on their practice court. On this end of the court, we see Devean George and on the opposite end, new Dallas Maverick Jason Kidd. After dinner, we went courtside to be interviewed my arena MC Chris Arnold. Great interview and received quite the reception from the crowd. Now, before I get more into the game, allow me to explain the music. Prior to the game I was offered the opportunity to participate in the arena karaoke competition. Now I'm not entirely naive, knowing that I have a pretty monotonous tone and don't speak with a lot of animation, so I passed the opportunity onto Shea, who was previously in a band and brings some excitement to the table when he speaks. The contest occurred at the end of the 1st quarter and the song would by "Don't Stop Believin' by Journey. Unfortunately the odds were stacked against him from the start as he would be competing against a beautiful local newswoman. I took this picture from afar, but you can spot him next to Chris in the grey sweatshirt. Now to his credit, I also thought the words would light up as you were supposed to sing them. However they did not and the song was 2 lines into it before he realized it had started. The crowd started booing. Then they started booing louder. At this point, most would have ran out of the arena, but Shea kept his composure. The newswoman however had the entire newsteam up there singing with her during her turn. Hmmm, blond hair, breasts, seeing her practice the song over and over again before the start of the game, and a well known newsteam - doesn't take a genius to know who won here. A view of the scoreboard and of the court. Some of tonight's broadcasters[...]



NBA March Madness!!!

2008-03-28T16:35:37.558-05:00

A very interesting poll has come up over on Yahoo! Sports. I’ll be working on my Dallas blog before heading to Detroit, but could you please take a moment of your time to go to the following site and put a vote in for seed #16 and help me upset Kobe Bryant? Voting ends Sunday

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/BDL-Bedlam-Rd-1-Kobe-Bryant-vs-NBA-super-fa?urn=nba,73050



San Antonio Spurs (#23)

2008-03-18T23:09:28.235-05:00

When you go into a place of business, you typically get the feel of the product from the people you encounter. All too often, we hear the cliche, "our most important part is our people." We all know that the Spurs have won 4 NBA titles and have one of the most loyal fan-bases in the NBA. After meeting the Spurs front-office staff and experiencing their culture, its more than a cliche, the organization truly embraces the "people" concept. I must say that they were one of the hardest teams to get in touch with, and without Shea, I may not have pulled it off, but the effort was worth it after meeting this group. At the AT & T Center (yes, formerly SBC Center), we were first greeted by Amanda Tate, who showed us around the arena. First thing I noticed was the signs above the restroom. I love how each city is throwing a different twist on the men's room logo.A shot of the court from above.Loyal season ticket holders often occupy most of the lower bowl, so these are some of the toughest tickets to come by in the NBA. Rather than a sea of dreary black seats, festive colors were spread among all of the other seats.Up beyond the light up Spurs basketball player, logo, and rodeo rider is the H-E-B (local grocery chain)FANFiesta area. The Porch. Great place to get a drink and a view of the outside world.On the Plaza level, just try and get a drink at Headlines. The place was packed at halftime.The arena also has the largest outdoor patio I've seen to date. Live music and all sorts of pre & post game activities take place here.We were each provided with a bag of Spurs merchandise that included t-shirts, Championship DVD, Manu bobblehead, and miniature replica championship trophy.Some shots of the concourseLast I checked, the Spurs won 4 titles, but I only see 2 here...In the past 10 years, the Spurs arena has had quite a few decorations added, including 4 NBA championship banners & the retired jerseys of Sean Elliott, David Robinson, and Avery Johnson. Of course there were your typical suites...Then there were the suites that aren't so enclosed and much closer to the action (the glass panes are all that separates it from the other seats)and then this was a first, suites that didn't have a view of the court. Of course they also had suites similar to other arenas, but these suites can be used to have dinner before the game or for businesses to use before the game. We've all seen it on TV, but always wondered what these light-up images were. Basketball player, Spurs symbol, and rodeo.A shot with one of the cheerleaders, who stand by the entrance and grant fans photo opportunities.The Spurs then treated us to dinner at their Terrace restaurant. I apologize in advance to the reader who commented on the Memphis blog and didn't like seeing me eating shrimp cocktail, but damnit, if I'm treated to some Butterfinger cheesecake and don't take it, I should quit this tour right now.Shea enjoyed the Pork B-B-Q a bit too muchNext we went down to the court, where I got to speak with some more of the Spurs staff. Again, nothing but wonderful. One of the ushers even offered to send me a hard copy of the article published on my tour in the San Antonio Express. A sideline reporter interviewed me for a TV spot, but unfortunately in this business, nothing in predictable and we couldn't get it in during the game. The Spurs somehow managed to get us second row back, literally inches from the Nets bench.Before sitting down, we went to the tunnel to await the Spurs players. While waiting, I came across Sean Elliott, my favorite Spur of all-time. Now a commentator, he was unbelievabl[...]



New Media Posts

2008-03-17T12:51:25.471-05:00

If you haven't read it, you need to...check out the Yahoo! Sports article by J.A. Skeets (owner of popular NBA blog and podcast). More importantly, read the comments section. Several Celtics fans were bashing me, but Yahoo! removed their comments due to use of profanity and false claims.http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/nba_experts/post/Ball-Don-t-Lie-interview-The-NBA-s-ultimate-fan?urn=nba,71735Now, a lot of people write to me and say congrats, etc etc. Friends of mine enjoy coming with me to the games, but bottom line...no one has really helped me. That was until I met Carolyn Hastings of "AND ONE" on Cleveland.com. She has offered to help me on many items and & I'm already impressed by her knowledge beyond hoops. Check out her site here:http://blog.cleveland.com/andone/A seedy little blog out called Pop-Gunning: http://popgunning.blogspot.com/2008/03/bball-styles-by-miles.htmlA great - off the cuff site called "ebsports" - with a lot of humor involved. http://www.ebsports.net/blog/?p=195Southwest Airlineshttp://www.blogsouthwest.com/2008/02/19/nba-road-tour/The Score - from Toronto (second bullet point)http://www.thescore.ca/blogs/basketball/index.asp?name=basketball/2008/03/fourpoint_play_36.htmlBall Hype - the biggest stories. the best fans. This site has my story as one of the best rated.http://ballhype.com/story/ball_don_t_lie_interview_the_nba_s_ultimate_fan/#linksLet's keep it coming. After seeing my $5,000 credit card bill this month, I really want the NBA to pay attention now. Here are some of the best comments from the Yahoo! Sports article:-I think they should get a petition together and fax it to Stern and make Drew a guest announcer at the Finals. Or at least a recognition and seats at the game. Its passion like this that proves its the best sport, and this guy deserves a lot of credit and respect for his endeavors. C'mon Stern give Dave his chance. HOME B-Huge props to the dedication of this dude. I can only imagine the toll it has taken on his finances, career, and personal relationships. This shows some guts and perseverance. I used to work in sports info and often had to try and deal with these front offices and PR departments, so I can sympathize with how hard they are to even get a call back from. RICKISH-I wish I had heard of this young man before he came to New Orleans. I would be glad to give him one of my playoff tickets. You are welcome to the Big Easy anytime.ALHUBB66-I believe drew should get tickets to all NBA Finals games, MR STERN where are you?Would'nt it be great to fly with the teams and have hidden on your clothing a fan cam? Hope you make your dreams drew. STILLLEARNING777-Final message to the NBA: DO NOT ALIENATE YOUR FANS, especially the SUPERFANS like Drew, if this guy pulls this off and I damn well hope he will. Do something big, invite him to a playoff game and make him a showcase for your fans. After all, No fans, means no revenue, means no teams, means no product and no jobs. Our sports leagues would do well to remember that sometimes. ANDREW WTo be honest, I was probably happy just visiting all 30 NBA teams, but now all of the readers and their support has lit another fire under me. I want to go to the Finals. The league will probably ignore me, but at the very least, I'm going to spend the next month trying to get its attention. I'm still waiting for that HERO to step forward and help me get to the Finals or get NBA recognition. I'll do whatever it takes, whether it's tattooing something on my body, dressing up in a chicken costume & dancing around the city, or swim across the poll[...]



Houston Rockets (#22)

2008-03-17T18:05:52.484-05:00

Houston is having no problems. As of publish date, the Rockets have won 22 straight and are the #1 seed in the Western conference.When I had toured the baseball stadiums two years ago, the most memorable part was the "25 hour challenge." This challenge was to leave a final at 7 PM on a Thursday and make it to Houston via car by 7 PM the next evening. I somehow made it, only stopping for gas along the way - behind the wheel for 23 hours straight (the speeding, evidenced by the ticket in Virginia, cut 2 hours off the trip). While visiting Minute Maid Park, I noticed the Toyota Center sitting downtown. Never did I dream that I would return...Probably the best part of the Arena is the outdoor court right next to it. The best can participate in a pick-up game before or after Rockets games. I thought that surely the court would be deranged after two years, but it was still in tip-top shape.When I arrived at the arena, I met up with Jonathan Kornblith, who provided me with a pair of tickets and a bag of Rockets merchandise, including a Yao Ming growth chart (doubt I'll ever get that tall), shirts, visor, mouse pad, and calendar.The lobby was pumping with probably overly loud music from a DJ, You either sat in the lower section or took the "20 minute" escalator ride to the upper bowl.Before going down to the court, we checked out the upper bowl, where during the pre-game, there were all sorts of games and opportunities to meet the cheerleaders.Vertical leap testI relate this one to "whack-a-mole"Hot-Shot basketballSize your hands up against the RocketsSkee-ballReason # 134 on why I never made the NBA. Check out the video below and laugh at my non-leaping ability allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dwMWd--m4OhQL63LoHIW_J0miXrqOR_saK5zdOwGfoPQxYQQHzwAZzAAGCN1ZqBQJkN3tWFqBM26L_7r-6czw' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Brad putting his wingspan up against YaoI was hoping to hop on this court and get a few slam-dunks in, but the little kids were hogging it.A shot from above of the court. When I first arrived, I thought they were going to only illuminate the court as the Lakers did, but eventually all lights we turned on.Many clever names on the spots to get food, including "Clutch City Pizza," "Baskets Grill," "The Rim," and "Space City Dogs."Of course, being the Toyota Center, they had to have a bunch of vehicles in one part of the arena. I really liked this arena, but this is one part they should scrap. This space could be utilized for a "fan experience," but instead Toyota is shoving its product down our throats. Basketball and vehicle shopping do not go together.A first in a basketball arena...a salad stand! See you can eat at a game without adding to that heart attack!The Comcast Hi-Def Zone. I grabbed a beer and caught the end of the Lakers-Mavs game here. Limited seats available, so get here early!This picture doesn't do it justice. But the Toyota Center had the most gargantuan jalapeño toppings I've ever seen!This crazy little basketball hoop with legs was running all over the arenaOne thing I noticed here, the roaming beer sales. I'm seeing less and less of this around the league. I've got to do some research and find out why. If anyone has any insight, please comment.Loved the logos on the walkwaysRudy Tomjanovich leads the way for retired Rockets jerseysThe upper bowl had curtains along the walkways that allowed fans to look down at what was going on rather than having thei[...]



Memphis Grizzlies (#21)

2008-03-09T17:16:50.932-05:00

So after another 5 days at work, I was on the road again. This time I would be taking a flight to Memphis. I would consider the Grizzlies to be another franchise that is probably largely unknown to many NBA fans. The Fed Ex Forum is located downtown, right off of Beale street.Inside of the lobbyA shot of the full court.Early on, the jumbotron showed an informative exit plan in the event of an emergency. This was the first time I had seen such a thing shown at an arena, but unfortunately it was shown when about 2 % of the crowd had arrived.Carly Knight was my contact with the Grizzles. I can't thank her enough because she helped me from the day I contacted her. On several occasions, she followed up with me, rather than forcing me to follow-up with her. Even more, she accommodated all aspects of my visit, even ensuring that parking was taken care of. When I arrived, she greeted me with a bag of Grizzles' merchandise that included a jersey, t-shirt, trading cards, Rudy Gay statuette, and beanie. It seems as if she took the best of all of my other visits and built on that. To date, she might just be my front office MVP. Getting close to Carlos Boozer.and DeronThis stat board was really informative/useful throughout the night. Every arena should have one.The speakers being lowered and the Jazz players awaiting an opportunity to practice, well at least some of them are waitingBrad and I courtsideThe Grizzles treated us to a dinner. Check out our viewChefs preparing the dinnerNow, the favorite food I've had at an arena to date. This isn't exactly "arena" food, but damn this impressed me. It contained two chocolate, two vanilla, and two strawberry. I literally ate all of these in about 10 minutes because I had to get down to the floor to watch the Grizzles exit the locker room.Men's room signOur seats were in the second row on the floor, closest to the Jazz bench. Not a bad view huh?While the players were warming up, I used some time to check out the food and excitement going on away from the game. I'd have to give Neely's BBQ Nachos the cuisine choice of the game.All sorts of video games to playCreate a time capsule from the year you were bornGreat designs throughout the arena.Paul Milsap with the basketAlso away from the action is the FedEx Time Center. Below is a small demonstration on how it works.Conley goes up for twoI'm literally sitting feet away from the Jazz bench. Andre Kirilenko seriously looked right at my camera and held a smile for about 5 secondsTip-offRudy Gay from downtownDarko off to the right"La Bomba"Okur at the line trying to warm up his hands.Sitting this close, I noticed many of the player's personalized shoes. Below, you can possibly see "MEMO" on Okur's shoes. Kirilenko had "AK-47," Deron had "D-Will," and Boozer had "C-Booz."Possibly the most comedic part of the night was a guy sitting near a few rows up behind the basket on the Grizzles bench side. He had an arsenal of signs for all occasions including "AND ONE." My personal favorite was "BC" for Brian Cardinal with a picture of a cardinal.Good thing Carly mentioned the following to me or I would have been thoroughly confused. Apparently the career of an NBA mascot is more than I thought it would be. The Grizzles' mascot is currently out on medical leave. So rather than to throw some new guy in the suit, the "union" of mascots steps up. Every game, a different mascot from around the league flies into Memphis to substitute for Grizz. This particular game, it was Blaze, from the Portland Trail[...]



SPURS website

2008-03-07T15:19:47.894-06:00

Read my sidebar on the San Antonio Spurs website

http://www.nba.com/spurs/gameday/080304.html



EA Sports GameShow

2008-03-07T15:16:39.181-06:00

A nice blog about my tour. I'll be doing an interview with them next week.

http://www.eagameshow.com/blogs/egray/index.php/2008/03/07/my-new-hero-oh-es-daily-links/

*As many of you know, I've had a long, exhausting week. 5 games in 7 nights. Over 30 hours of driving. I'll try and get several posts up next week - However, I still need to confirm things w/ the Bucks, T'wolves, Bobcats, and Pistons & lots of catching up to do at work.



Dallas Morning News

2008-03-06T16:34:36.828-06:00

Go right ahead and comment on the site:

http://mavsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2008/03/give-a-warm-welcome-to-nba-drew.html



San Antonio Express News

2008-03-03T18:09:17.462-06:00

An article related to my 5 arenas in 7 nights (Memphis, Texas, & New Orleans)

http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/columnists/roliver/stories/MYSA.03032008.P2.OliversTwist.EN.3096ab6.html