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Sunday, October 17, 2010
Pre-Season Shootout - Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets, Lakers, Oh My
If there's ever a preseason game to go to it would be the annual Pre-Season Shootout hosted by the Staples Center. For the price of one admission you get two preseason games. The first game was Clippers vs. Utah Jazz (4:30PM) and the main event was of course the back-to-back champs vs. Denver Nuggets (7:30PM).
So my cousin and I decide to get there at around 4:00pm to walk around and absorb the Staples Center a little. We take photos outside. I couldn't resist taking one with Chicky Baby! What a beautiful statue commemorating his brilliance as the voice of the Lakers for over 35 years.
Then we walk into the new Nike Vault store located right outside the Staples Center entrance. As soon as I walk in my eyes are drawn to this massive art piece of Kobe. This was no ordinary art piece like those paintings you typically see capturing one of his dunks, no this art piece was different. I couldn't quite picture why it was so unique until I walked up to it to take a closer look. Up close was even more amazing! Each layer covered by cut-outs of different Kobe pictures.
Now its time to make our entrance into the Staples Center. We wanted to find our seats first before we venture into the outskirts of the arena. Our seats are great, located behind the right-side basket mid lower level. Perfect spot as our backs were against the wall which really means no annoying kicks to the backs of our seats. So now that we've found our seats we stepped out to wander. Please keep in mind that I like to make the most of my Staples Center visits as they don't happen as much as I would like. Soon enough I find yet another photo op. This time in front of the Lakers press conference curtains. I think I was more excited about the exhibition lines to every thing! I loved that there was no long waits. I was like a kid in a candy store! Next stop, Lakers locker room. Yeah right!
I make my Staples Center ritual which is walk around the entire arena. This time for some strange reason my round was so much faster. Maybe because we got there early for the Clipper game? Man I tell ya, Clippers fans were nowhere to be found. The place was empty. Blake Griffin was playing for crying out loud! Anyhow, we grab some grub and walk back to our seats to watch the Clippers game. Again, a complete ghost town. I would say only a quarter of the Staples Center was in attendance. Blake started off slow but heated up late in the game. My luck, as I look down to grab my drink the crowd erupts with a giant roar. Apparently Blake decided to make the dunk of the night the very second I looked away. Dang it! He had caught an alley-oop one handed for a monstrous dunk! Blake had several of these. He's back people, and he's back to piss defenders off this season. I look up to maybe catch the replay but no luck. But wait, something looks different up there. Are those high-definition screens that I'm looking at? Woa! The Staples Center purchased a new HD scorebaord. Damn, when did this happen? I'm suppose to know everything about the Lakers! Wow, the new scoreboard is amazing. I took a quick video of it from my iPhone but it really doesn't give it justice. Here a good article that I found on the web: New Staples Center HD Scoreboard
There were several familiar faces I saw last night. One was good old Raja Bell in a Utah jersey. Remember his antics this past post season? He stood up Kobe's helicopter ride to their scheduled business dinner engagement. Kobe was actually interested in Bell becoming a Laker even after their sketchy past. As we all know, Bell signed with Utah for more money and more playing time.
The other was Brian Cook. Remember Cook Lakers fans? Well, I didn't know he was back in town playing for the Clippers. That was cool to see because it sucked to see him traded to Orlando 4 years ago.
Okay now to the main event, Lakers and Nuggets. This time around the arena was jam-packed! The crowd erupts when the champs make their entrance to the Staples Center since game 7. It was awesome to see Blake out there warming up as a Laker. It was weird though to see Barnes help Kobe with his pregame rituals. This will definitely get some getting use to. The aura did not feel like an exhibition game, it felt like the playoffs all over again. Before tip-off Matt Barnes was given the mic to welcome us but more importantly to welcome his Staples Center debut. You could tell he was nervous becasue he wasn't sure how the fans would accept him. To no avail, the crowd cheered him on and welcomed him with open arms. Mine were closed of course. I'm no cued puppet, he will have to earn my respect like Artest did.
Shockingly my preseason expectations were not met. Starters were given more PT than I had thought. Players ran up and down the court with high energy and played great as if their numbers mattered that night. The champs were pumped up. They played great together as a team. Brown was sinking his jays, Barnes and Ratliff played great defensively, Artest made his 3's, Blake orchestrated the ball well, Odom was not indecisive with the rock, Kobe drilled his fade away shots and made his defenders pay with easy free-throws. Kobe's whistle cry to the officials was mute though. I'm sure it will awaken once the regular season starts.Ariza, oops I mean Ebanks played with high energy too. Phil's eyes were glued to his players the entire game and the Laker girls were hotter than ever! All of this is a great sign for the upcoming season.
Last but certainly not least I want to thank Rob Allsup for these awesome tickets! Thank you for your generosity Rob! You're the best! We had a blast!
Please take the time to visit his accounting firm Mead, Allsup & Lim located in Anaheim, California.
Well fans, this is going to be another hell of a ride. Buckle up!