Monday, October 13, 2008

Cadillac Mescallade: Outdoor NBA Basketball Game

I made the hour and a half drive east this past Saturday night out to Indian Wells to see the first outdoor NBA game since 1972. I'm not much for tennis venues, having only been to the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, NY, but this place wasn't bad. 20 bucks a ticket on ebay found me in the upper reachers of the stadium, but, it being a tennis stadium, no seat was too far away. I initially hoped for a legit outdoor game with blacktop and chain nets, but the NBA installed an actual court over the tennis surface for the contest. Since you can read a recap of this game just about anywhere, I will just run off a list of random observations I noticed as a spectator.

1. No sign of Allen Iverson, and Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire did not play. Shaq and Steve Nash did play, and for quite a few minutes. I figured these guys would have ran around for a few minutes in the first quarter and then threw on the snow suits at the end of the bench, but not the case.

2. Save a nice Nash spin move and a few dunks, this was one of the most disgusting basketball games I have ever seen. Perhaps rust from the offseason or the fact it dropped down to about 60 degrees (that is frozen tundra weather for the Palm Springs area), but this was just bad. Many passes being whipped out of bounds, multiple bounces passes in the paint to seven footers. This is, of course, what happens in the preseason since everyone wants to make the roster. I likened it to my high school basketball tryouts: everyone is trying way to hard, the games suck, and the guys who know they are on the team just try not to get injured.

3. Mateen Cleaves is still floating around the NBA. The most famous towel-waver this side of Pittsburgh checked in at some point much to the shock and awe of the crowd.

4. Chris "Birdman" Anderson has resurfaced with a new team: he is on the Nuggets again.

5. Robin Lopez had about five amazing blocked shots and, at least for one night, disproved my theory that the Lopez brothers will be less successful than the Menendez brothers. His main highlight was turning away Kenyon Martin on a sure dunk.

6. It really felt like we were at a game in Phoenix. I know the game was stated as a Suns home game, but I didn't realize that half the city would show up. The entire place was going nuts for the Phoenix Suns all decked out jerseys ranging from current Shaq and Nash to the classic throwbacks of Barkely and Majerle.

7. Cedric Ceballos (former blindfolded dunk champion) is the on court MC for the Suns during timeouts. This was stunning to see but I give Ced credit as he has a great speaking voice, I just never thought a former NBA player would take on that position.

8. You know you are at a tennis arena for a basketball game when chicken panini sandwiches are available at the concession stand and certain bathrooms are for certain ticket holders only.

9. That whole thing about the desert being hot in the day and cold at night is true. It did get pretty cold there, I headed home towards the end of the third as I was freezing and the game had devolved into the NBDL All-Star game- no fun for anybody.

10. The NBA should do this more often. Next location: the infield at Monmouth Park.

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