Eating crow never tasted so good.

9 Jun

When I bought tickets to game 6 I knew there was a chance that it may not happen. Game 3 was a guarantee but there weren’t nearly enough good seats to choose from. I had predicted the Spurs in 6 so I knew that if there was indeed a game 6 then that would probably be the night they’d clinch. I didn’t think it would be the Thunder who would do the clinching.

There were a couple expensive lessons that I learned from this round of hoops:

1) You never know. I felt so sure about both series that I bet on both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals. I thought a Heat vs. Spurs Finals was in the making with the Spurs dispatching Miami in six. ERRR WRONG!!!!

I didn’t foresee Scotty Brooks outcoaching Popovich during this series. Now I’m not saying He made better decisions than Popovich. Pops did the best he could with what he had. I just didn’t foresee Brooks putting together a game plan and the boys sticking to it.

Somehow I never saw the Sefolosha adjustment coming, and I definitely never saw it being a pivotal turning point in the series.  I didn’t think old Russ would have more assists than Tony Parker either.

As for the Celts-Heat series. I just thought the C’s were too banged up to keep up with the Heat. I gotta give credit to Doc Rivers for his great job of coaching them this series.

I didn’t give Spoelstra enough credit for being the overwhelmed coach he is. I just thought the Heat would out muscle the Celtics. After watching how badly game 2 was called, I was sure the fix was in.

I thought it was a done deal before the series even started. I wasn’t even going to bother watching it except to see the greatness of Rajon rondo. I sure as fuck wasn’t going to bother previewing the series in a blog.

As of today the C’s are sitting pretty with a 3-2 series lead, and with game 6 being in the Garden tonight, It could be  a wrap. Once again, never a sure thing. I ‘d say I wouldn’t bet on it but I already did.

Which brings me to lesson number 2) Don’t bet against teams you like. I bet with my head and not my heart, and normally this is a good thing. Betting against your favorite team is just not a good idea. All it did was mix me up inside. I wanted the Thunder to win but I also didn’t want to lose 50 bucks.

It created a struggle within me and finally I just made peace with the fact that neither outcome was going to completely feel good (as is much of life isn’t it?).

I’m not a Celtics fan  but I do like a lot of their players. I’ve always dug Garnett’s passion for the game, Rondo is a sick motherfucker–probably the sickest they have right now.

Pierce and Ray Allen of course are two guys I have followed for years (even open debating why the Mavs took Dirk instead of Pierce but I guess it worked out for everyone involved).

So its hard not to root for them and root against Miami.  My money and heart were in two different places and that is probably not a good thing.

Expensive lesson # 3 is that the scalping game has flipped since 1999. No one buys tickets at the games anymore. The best place to scalp and be scalped is the internet. The game has changed son!

My boy tried to tell me this but I didn’t listen. I could get anyone to pay me what I had bought for my extra ticket and ended up selling it at a loss of 80 bones.

Every venue and city has different laws governing the world of scalping and it pays to know what they are. It is important to know where the buyers are and where the sellers will be.

I got taken for sure but it was 7:30 and it was raining. I wasn’t going to be spend all night trying to get rid of the ticket. The best offer I got was 120 (I made sure to ask the guy who sat next to me how much he paid. He said 150.)

In some out of the way venues like the Cynthia Mitchell Pavillion in the Woodlands, Texas, it is quite possible to walk up and get a ticket for cheap because it is out of the way.

I’ve often heard of people showing up 5 minutes before the start of an event and see scalpers giving away tickets because they weren’t nearly as easy to sell as they thought (ME).

This made me realize that the venue in OKC is a seller’s market and that I could’ve walked up and gotten my ticket for way less than I paid on the internet.

I have the feeling that I can get Finals tickets for a fairly reasonable price if I’m patient. Unfortunately I won’t be able to see them clinch in person. all the home games fall on nights that I work except game 2. So if I go (which I probably will)

that will be the one I attend.

Quick notes from being in attendance for game 6:

Can’t tell you how excited I was to see my playoff t-shirt waiting for me in my seat. I put it on before I even sat down and joined the throng of hungry fans there to see the dogfight that was about to commence.

True I had bet against my boys, but in every way I was there to support OKC. Everyone there for the game seemed to have the same attitude. They were going to bring the series to a close, and the fans were not going to let the Thunder lose.

It’s pretty cool to be part of a fan base that can actually affect a game. I grew up watching those Arco arena games where the Kings would fucking light up the scoreboard.

Those fans were loud. It was awesome to see how into it they got. Sometimes the noise would reach 120 decibels.

I wish I could have watched the game on TV to see how loud it translated for television. It was bananas inside that arena. The first half was loud in waves.

I caught myself being captivated by the flow of the Spurs offense in the first half. There they were, Tim Duncan (who I’d watched play since he was a freshman at Wake Forest), Manu Gonobili ( My homey Lou’s favorite player) and Tony Parker. Their execution the first quarter was flawless.

I couldn’t help but stare in awe as Tony Parker carved the Thunder defense up for 21 first quarter points. It was unreal. It wasn’t like I was cheering for the Spurs, but I was digging the sometimes breathtaking plays they were making. Stephen jackson was drilling every open three available.

It was crazy. Yet despite how good the Spurs looked, there still was no doubt that the Thunder were going to come back. When Durant nailed the deep three on two defenders with .4 seconds left, it was clear that the Spurs were in trouble. During halftime out in the corridors every patron had the same look, like “WE GOT THIS!”

I sent that exact text to my boy in Portland who replied ” Naw man its going back to San Antonio. You can’t give up 63 first half points and expect to win.”

I wasn’t surprised with the reply. He hadn’t the fortune of seeing as many Thunder games as I had this season. He hadn’t seen what Durant had been doing all Post-season, turning it on in the last quarter to take it from cats. There was no doubt that they’d make a run. 18 first half points was a joke. A lead that early cannot be taken seriously.

Besides, old dude was Portland what did he know? His franchise were the ones who passed up on Durant to get Oden. They were like the cats on Star Search who chose some random ass dude over Dave Chappelle.

I went to concessions and grabbed a Coca-Cola and caffeinated myself. When the second half began I made sure that not only was I into it, but that everyone in my section was as well.

I hi-fived the little kids and old folks nearby. I yelled at the top of my lungs, jumped up and down. The crowd didn’t sit the whole second half (vaguely reminiscent of Warriors fans in Oracle) and things went from loud to obnoxiously loud once the boys had trimmed the first half 18 point deficit to 10.

When we cut it to five I knew it was all over. There was no way the Spurs were going to win.

The third quarter was the best spurt of basketball throughout the game. The thunder made a run, then the Spurs made one, then the Thunder countered. There were some brilliant plays, and some athletic ones and honestly everything kind of blurred together.

I couldn’t even tell you one particular moment from the quarter. But it was an awesome sight to see and clearly I was in the right place at the right time. It was loud and it was exciting and it was euphoric. I looked up at the scoreboard and realized that KD already had put up a quiet 29 points.

Unfortunately the fourth quarter didn’t flow as well. There were too many stops and starts between officials whistles and TV timeouts.

There was a lot of dancing in the aisles during the timeouts and everyone had fun, but the officials and their questionable calls marred what should have been an outstanding ending. It was a bit unsettling how one-sided the calls were going (When I saw Joey Crawford I knew the fix was in but not FOR the Thunder).

I almost felt sorry the Spurs. Then I remembered this and the resulting suspensions (bullshit interpretation of the ‘leaving the bench” rule) that cost the Suns a chance to truly compete for the NBA Finals. So then I was like fuck ’em.

They had benefited from some calls so no reason to feel bad that Durant was getting Superstar treatment now ( a guy in the stands joked that Durant always misses 1 of 2 free throws if he got to the line because of a bad call–almost as if he felt guilty about it).

The end of the game was pretty sweet–punctuated by a Perkins dunk that send the crowd into a frenzy kinda like this one. It was all but over.

The Thunder had vanquished the Spurs. And I couldn’t think of a more worthy opponent (after the game KD said that it was the toughest win he’d ever had  as an NBA player).

Being in the arena for the trophy celebration was a bit unreal. Seeing everyone in the crow in synch, cheering as one, moving as one was a sight. KD couldn’t even talk because we were shouting MVP. He stopped and just took it all in.

I was taken back to the moment when I first saw him his freshman year at Texas, warming up for a pres-season game against some small college.

There was no way I could have imagined that we’d both be in Oklahoma City celebrating (albeit differently) the success of a pro basketball team.

I started thinking of other post championship celebrations. The ones like I’d seen on the Madden video games. The time I watched jealously as Houston celebrated the Clutch City Rockets (which Scott Brooks was a member of). It was an incredible thing to be apart of.

There is a festive atmosphere that rivals collegiate sports at a Thunder game from the  outlandish outfits to the fevered pitch of the crowd (I guess this makes sense because up until recently they only had college teams to root for).

And though there are some high toned people who attend, it is nowhere as bad as attending a Mavs game. Everyone seems overdressed for those things.

In the form of celebs I saw no one but radio personality/former Cowpoke Doug Gottlieb and former MLB manager Tony LaRussa.  People aren’t there for a fashion show.

They come to see hoops and even those who are there for the scene have no choice but to represent. It’s a great experience and if you ever get a chance to go to an OKC game in the future, I recommend you do so (though tickets are much harder to get than when they first got here).

Of course things didn’t go perfectly. I had lost 80 bucks on my extra ticket. Before warm ups some dude tried to pick a fight with one of the people sitting next to me (he was so drunk that he passed out in his seat before the start of the 2nd quarter).

The water fountains weren’t turned on upstairs so I was hella thirsty throughout the 4th quarter.

But it was worth every dollar spent and every inconvenience I endured to be there to celebrate the team’s success. The jubilant high I felt leaving the arena was unparalleled (And I have tried many a drug and gotten many a laid).

My favorite basketball team of all time was going to the NBA finals. Now it was only a question of who we were playing next and if I was going to attend any of the games(More than likely).

I didn’t know it could feel so good to be so wrong.

Team is One!


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