It Was All A Dream: Basketball Passport's Ultimate Fan Odyssey Through Every NBA Arena in 30 Nights
December 18, 2013 - 5:00 pm
You’ve become one of the greatest NBA fans of all-time, if there is such a measure. Jack Nicholson and Jimmy Goldstein are like the MJ and Kobe of fans, but you’ve got to at least be KD. Have people started to recognize you and what’s been the feedback for this?
Tommy Dee, a blogger who ran the Knicks blog, shared a video for the #30in30 and when he tagged me, I went to his timeline and saw a post from a husband and wife that said ‘I saw this guy in Minnesota and our son Jack has been following the journey ever since. Jack wants to do this one day.’ Mainly NBA fans have started to recognize me, which is cool because get the stamps is the goal, but so is spreading the word about basketball passport by doing something it stands, which is breaking through that T.V. filter and getting out to games.
How have the players and team personnel responded to this new innovation?
I haven't interacted much with players from a standpoint of them knowing about the tool, but team personnel have been terrific. Usually, the folks in the public relations department hooked me up with a ticket to offset some costs. They’ve also been feeding the story of my journey to their media outlets, so it’s twofold. They get me in the building and help me get the word out.
What was the most memorable game?
I would say the most memorable game was Warriors versus the Thunder at Oracle Arena in Oakland. It looked like the thunder were going to win after Russell Westbrook hit a big shot late in the fourth quarter. The Warriors get the ball, Andre Iguodala gets the ball and hits a 16 foot jay to win it. I was sitting second row behind the two owners and to share that experience with them in a place I’ve never been on the Thursday night on TNT broadcast game made it something I’ll always remember.
However, I have to put an asterisk against that. I got to sit in what I call the Jack Zone while at the Lakers game. I was sitting pretty much where he would sit at the Staples Center. Their lights are like The Garden, its like a stage where the lights are dim in the stands and bright on the court, focused on the players. Those seats are $3,000. That’s something I’d never imagine.
Yeah, that’s like once in a lifetime for most people. How’d you get a hold of seats like those?
The owner of VIP tickets.com gave me two seats. We didn't know what tickets we’’d get.
He sent me an email and said ‘go to my office and ask for Annie, she has a special pair of tickets for you.’ It’s 4 o’clock in LA and I’m having coffee. It’s close to game time, so I asked them to walk me over to office. I open the tickets and it’s row one, section court side. I had a friend Russ coming in from NYC to meet me, and I told him he were in 211. He said ‘wow, those are great seats. That’s the lower bowl.’ I kept it a surprise until the end. When we got to our real seats, he almost needed a new pair of pants (laughs).
Has taking the All NBA Arenas challenge given you a new respect for how pro athletes handle the travel? Just going to watch the games is tough, they have to play.
It’s not only deepened my appreciation for players, coaches and beat writers. I’ve been able to empathize with them. I mean they get to fly on chartered planes and I flew coach for 30 days. Sixteen of the 20 flights had connections, so that’s 36 separate take offs and landings. It got brutal. Imagine having to do that and have to play at a high level is something that I have deepened my appreciation for. Fans don't see the whole trip, they see the end result. Sometimes the players are sick or hurt. I just have to sit in a seats with no pressures or expectations.
You got to see some cool things on the trip: Magic Johnson’s statue, The Alamo, The gym from the movie Hoosiers was filmed. Give me the five most memorable sites you saw or visited.
The Hoosiers experience literally gave me goosebumps, so that’s in the top five. Number two would be the Blues City Cafe here in Memphis because they had mazing ribs. While in Miami, I got to go the beach in south beach, which is a good thing when you’re from from New York and it’s freezing in New York City. This one is memorable, not sure its a good thing I spent thanksgiving in Cleveland at a casino buffet. You don’t forget that. And finally, seeing the MJ statue was big for me.
One thing I'd add was going to two games with my dad. He picked me up in DC off of a flight and we went to the Wizards game that night. The next morning we woke up and drove to Charlotte for the Bobcats game.
Given the experience and your passion for the game, the trip has it’s rewards on a personal level. But have you seen growth on the site? I imagine this trip has given BBPP mad exposure.
Yeah, so we got an uptake and added 500 active travelers who log their games and go back to show what games they’ve been to. The real value in the tool is dishing out your personal stats: performances you’ve witnessed, teams records when you attended games so you can see if you’re a good luck charm, things like that. Then there’s the competitive element, where you rank who’s been to the most games per week and overall. The exposure has translated in the amount of new members that we have.
The thing about the site is that its members truly love the game and have a passion for going. No matter what, if they have an option between watching at home or going, they pick going every time. It could be a cold winter night, and the game is Pistons versus the Jazz. We’re going.
For more on PRC's #30in30 trip and additional on how to you can plan your own challenge, head to BasketballPassport.com.