“I love this game!” Do you remember this catchword in 90s? :) That was the sentence spoken after every short commercial presenting in 30 seconds many spectacular actions from National Basketball Association – NBA! Then a small Flying Polack caught the love of basketball from his friends from the neighborhood and from NBA games watched in TV. Today, after about 18 years, finally I was able to realize my dream and go for the game of the team, which from the very beginning I was supporting – Los Angeles Lakers! So seat back ,relax and let me show you how the NBA (league where the players are the best-paid athletes in the world) game looks from the perspective of the fan.
Going to the game on Christmas day?!
The match was held on December 25th, which is the first day of the holidays. From the Polish perspective it might appear who would go to the match on the first day of the holidays?! On such days usually we visits the family members, we’re going for a walk after a massive feast, or to the church. In America, however, it has become a tradition that most popular medial teams play their matches, which attracts crowds. It was no different this evening in LA. All 19,000 seats at Staples Center was occupied.
At the huge arena shimmering in blue I arrived already two hours before the game. Unnecessarily. Gates opened 1 hour 20 minutes before the first whistle. It was freezing but I wasn’t alone (true, in California winters are mild, but yet is still winter!). In front of the arena was several hundreds of other enthusiasts.
Finally they opened! I enter and immediately got a shirt for free – a cheap version of the jersey, in which this evening will perform Lakers. The idea – that the whole arena is dressed in the colors of the home team. As it turned out the plan didn’t work out. Too many celebrities and people aspiring to be celebrities. Their fancy dresses and suits must be visible.
Stars not only on the court
And if we’re already at the topic of celebrities, Lakers games attracts a lot of them. Because of the proximity of Hollywood, Staples Center attracts them the most in the entire NBA. It was no different this time. In the first row appeared Denzel Washington, Mark Whalberg, Andy Garcia, one of the Kardashian sisters (sorry, no idea which one), Cameron Diaz and many others. Of course there was also most faithful fan of the Lakers – Jack Nicholson, who has seasonal ticket for the very same chair year by year since 70s.
Unfortunately I can’t show you any photos, because I don’t have them. Security forbade me to bring my camera so that I couldn’t take decent photos, for which I deeply apologize you.
Since to the game was still plenty of time I explored arena. And inside are plenty of eateries (of course spearheaded by the traditional for American cuisine – fast food ones), bars with alcohol and Fan shop where you can purchase almost anything. From toothbrushes with the image of Kobe Bryant, through t-shirts and jerseys to the pictures presenting Lakers legends for 2500 dollars.
Arena itself apart from the house of Lakers also serves other NBA team from the city of angels – LA Clippers, who just this evening were a rival of Kobe and his fellows. Interestingly Staples Center also serves for local LA Kings hockey team. For its performances court is rolled up and in its place it’s being putted ice sheet. Such miracles only in America!
Dreams come true!
I go to the sector, steward politely asks to show ticket, to make sure I got to the appropriate section. I’m going down to the chair in the sixth row behind the team bench. A smile from ear to ear can’t go out of my face for a second. Players are warming up, among them a living legend and one of the best players of all time – Kobe Bryant, who as a kid I watched every day on posters exactly covering every square meter of the walls of my room.
To say that I was observing him all the time is like to say nothing. I devoured his movements, plays, behavior, motivating teammates. I was just sitting in about 7 meters away from the court and the players of the best basketball league in the world and simply I was happy like a kid. I have fulfilled my dream. LA Lakers game still with Kobe in the team, live at Staples Center! Ahhh! :)
Basketball in contrary to Football for instance, is a game quite often paused. Match lasting 48 minutes is divided into 4 quarters. Coaches of both teams can take a break and after every foul the game is interrupted as well.
Therefore, it would seem that basketball games blows with boredom. None of these things! And certainly not in America. There, in fact, sport is just part of the performance. At each break is planned scenario. Once you see cheerleaders, later acrobats and next is arranged contest for fans who will score from halfway line to win sum of money. Show must go on!
The atmosphere of the crowd
Audience itself I would call a picnic one. If someone doesn’t want to get up from the chair and go to the buffet area there’re always some guys strolling across sectors offering snacks, beer and Coke. Team is encouraged by the crowd only in the moments when they’re winning. This is also a moment when you can get up from the chair. This is particularly at the ends when the game is close to be won or lost. Otherwise, if the emotions would make you stand up the person sitting behind you might ask you to take your seat as you cover his view.
Supporting itself isn’t to complicated either. Limited mainly to the shouts of Let’s go Lakers! Let’s go! And Defense! Defense! Through most of the game the support of the team is inspired by the pre-recorded voices coming from the speakers like Bring the action! Clap clap clap – which is to encourage people to clap their hands.
Personally however, for NBA games I’m going to enjoy the best basketball in the world and not for atmosphere among the fans. So I won’t complain :)
How much the dreams costs?
To not making whole story so sweet, I’ll tell you how much the game actually cost me. 382.5 $ paid for the ticket. Why such a high price? The seat wasn’t at the front of court but just a little in the corner. However it was really close – just in the sixth row. Visibility was great! In addition, the match was at first day of Christmas when the tickets are always more expensive. And above all, this is Los Angeles – home to many rich people so they can afford that.
Bearing in mind also cost of reaching there and coming back, it a bit drained my wallet, but what the hell! You don’t save on dreams! And frankly if there were available for purchase tickets for an even better seats, I’d probably have bought it :)
Short reportage which will fulfill the picture of how such game looks like you’ll find here: