Archive for the ‘60/30’ Category

60/30: The End

Andrew Unterberger just finished his quest to see a game in every NBA stadium. Here are his thoughts on his excellent journey…

Well, it’s been a crazy couple months of Seeing America Right, and while I’m thankful to be returning to a life where all my laundry is in the same place (generally) and I can sleep past 11:00 without having to worry about it costing me an extra day’s worth of hotel rates, I don’t know if I’m quite ready to move on from life on the road just yet. So before I say farewell to the 60/30 series on the Basketball Jones, I had to round up some final facts, figures and findings from my 60 days spent in the NBA wilderness. If you have any specific questions I can answer them in the comments section below. If not, thanks for sticking with me these last two months — hope you’ve felt it’s been the same rewarding, character-building, full-time-employment-delaying experience to read these articles as it was for me to research and write them.

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Andrew Unterberger just finished his tour of the NBA’s arenas. Here’s his final report with a recap coming tomorrow. For the last time, enjoy…

After ringing in the New Year in Boston with some high school friends, I began what would be the final drive of my trip, back up to my home base in New York. About sixty miles out, I thought to myself “Well how about that, I made it the entire trip without having to change a flat tire.” About fifty miles out, I heard a tearing noise followed by a horrible grinding noise and I quickly realized that I had thought-spoke too soon. I pulled over to the shoulder and got out, determined to use the instructions my father taught me before the trip started and to prove how much I’d grown over the trip by changing the tire all on my own.

I poked at the wheel a couple times with my tire iron and then I called Triple A. Manhood would have to wait until the next road trip, I suppose.

Walking up to Madison Square Garden for Knicks-Pacers the next day (Took the subway — realize now how much more fun live basketball is when finding a parking lot for less than $20 a half-mile from the arena isn’t any kind of concern), I realized that my trip had officially come full circle. Not only was I supposed to go to MSG at the very beginning of the trip — the asbestos-ruined game against the Magic if you recall — but I had met my friends in front of the arena to take local trans to the Nets game, which ended up actually being the first match of my trip. I could say I got a little misty-eyed as I took out my camera-mp3-player to take the last arena exterior shot of my trip, but really, I was too focused on looking forward to playing Rock Band 3 with my friends for the first time in two months after the game to feel much on-court sentimentality. (Come on, I only got like three days with it before I had to leave. And they released “Blue Monday” for download in the meantime!)

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60/30: No. 29, TD Garden

Andrew Unterberger has one game left on his quest to see a game in each and every NBA arena. Here’s his next-to-last report…

Driving from DC to Boston, stopping in Philly to meet a friend for lunch, I was reminded just how grateful I was to have burned the majority of December in the deep South. Snow everywhere — the ugly, slushy, miserable kind of snow that just makes being outside and walking around a generally awful experience. It’s easy to pretend it’s not the winter yet with blue skies and clear sidewalks, but coming back up the northeast, this shit was quickly becoming undeniable. At least it wasn’t sticking to the roads, meaning that the driving and traffic on the highways was only as terrible as it usually is going through New York — I ended up driving nearly the entire way to Albany and taking the Mass Pike from there to avoid it, which confused my Garmin to such a degree that it just kinda gave up on me halfway through. So glad to be back!

Before my official return to the Big Apple, I did have a New Year’s Eve game in Boston to get through. When my trip first started, Hornets-Celtics seemed like it might be a match between two finals contenders, or at least two point guards vying for the title of league’s best. But then the Hornets went 3-9 and Rajon Rondo pulled up lame with a sprained ankle, meaning I wasn’t likely to be watching much of either on December 31. Guess a boring, old-fashioned good game was going to have to do.

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Andrew Unterberger is on the home stretch of his quest to see a game in every NBA arena …

I rushed up to my friend Dan’s place in DC (although not after trying something called “Low Country Gumbo” at Mert’s in Charlotte–are you supposed to take the crab legs out or eat them whole or what?) because I wanted to get there in time to watch the Eagles play the first Tuesday Night football game in 64 years. Dan and I are both fans, but due to countless extraneous circumstances, neither of us had gotten to watch more than a couple of full Birds games all year, so we relished the opportunity to catch up in front of what was sure to be a home blowout against a hapless and shorthanded Vikings squad. Didn’t exactly turn out that way–Joe Webb and Michael Vick decided to switch uniforms before the game, and the Eagles ended up dropping a game which they were favored by two touchdowns by ten points. At least we decided not to go to the local Eagles bar for the game–I can’t imagine a drinking environment that would’ve been more depressing.

The next day we met up for a game at the Verizon Center, where the Wizards would be playing the Pacers in the I Can’t Come Up With a Player Who Played For Both of These Random-Ass Teams Bowl. I took the suggestions of everyone and went to Ben’s Chili Bowl beforehand, though for one of the first times of my trip, I was mildly underwhelmed by the experience–I dunno, tasted good and all, but not much moreso than your average chili dog, and the bland funk music blaring from the jukebox was seriously uninspiring. Sorry, DC.

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Andrew Unterberger has a proposed fix for teams with attendance issues, Charlotte included. Read this…

No offense to the fine people of the Queen City, but whenever I was talking about my trip to someone and the reasons why I was taking it, and how I found every NBA team fascinating and looked forward to seeing a home game of theirs for one reason or another, I always allowed “Well … except for the Bobcats.” Nothing personal against the Bobbers, I’ve just never really dug ‘em as a League Pass team — combination of Larry Brown’s slow-down style, the general lack of star power on the team, and recently especially, the depressing feeling that they’ve already hit their max potential as a team and are now stuck in an far-too-overpriced holding pattern. Plus the team name is weak, there’s no franchise history, the colors are uninspiring and the logo is absolutely ridiculous. (Really, up there with the Wolves’ demure growler as the biggest “Seriously? This is supposed to be intimidating?” representative team visual — at least the Bobcats don’t have the fans growl at free throws though.)

Still, I set out to do this trip as if God had created all NBA teams equal, and I tried to keep an open mind as I headed to Time Warner Cable Arena. Had some time to kill in Charlotte beforehand, so I took a gander at the newly-instituted NASCAR Hall of Fame. Not exactly the biggest racing fan — my accomplishment for the afternoon was decisively understanding the difference between Bill France Sr. and Jr. — but they had some nice displays, and they let you drive a car simulator and test you and your friends’ speed as a pit crew, which was definitely sporting of ‘em. Still, I was looking forward to getting back to a sport I actually understood, and so even a game between the Bobcats and Pistons was looking pretty good to me.

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60/30: No. 26, Amway Center

Andrew Unterberger is just about done with his trek across the country and back. Here’s his report from Orlando…

The beach in December, a marvelous thing. When it’s the day before Christmas and I can walk on the sand, sipping a Landshark in just my bathing suit and my recently acquired Michael Beasley No. 40 Heat jersey (“I don’t know what it is about that boy, but he just looks like he’s up to no good,” the townspeople whispered as I passed), it’s a pretty remarkable technological and/or cultural achievement. True, the water was absolutely freezing and I couldn’t last more than 90 seconds inside, but a small price to pay for getting to make use of my Phoenix Suns beach towel — actually, technically a bench towel, read the label wrong, but whatever, still dries — so close to the new year. Bless you, southern Florida. (Also got to try alligator while passing through the Everglades. Not bad, tastes halfway between chicken and scallop, if you can picture that.)

Was a little bummed to have to spend Christmas in Orlando, though. Usually a bummer of a holiday for me (Jewish, spent it working for double-time pay the last few years), all I really wanted to do was hole up in my hotel room and ignore the outside world for 48 hours, but I quickly found the outside world was difficult to ignore in such close proximity to Disney World. Still, I cobbled together the traditional Heathen Christmas by ordering Chinese delivery and ordering “Takers” on pay-per-view (for $17, or about $1 for every six mediocre, suspenseless minutes — at least T.I. was kinda badass in it), then passing out in a bloated stupor on my hotel bed. When I awoke, it was just about time to head down to Amway to see the Magic take on the Celtics, one of the marquee games on arguably the second-best day of the year to be an NBA fan.

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Andrew Unterberger was at the Dallas-Miami game. Here’s what he thought…

As I’ve related repeatedly to just about anyone who’d listen, the roster of NBA games I took on with this trip wasn’t exactly planned for maximal awesomeness. Going to 60 games in 30 days via automobile doesn’t exactly allow for much wiggle room — I was somewhat lucky to even come up with a feasible schedule at all, let alone one in which I’d be able to cherry-pick marquee matchups to attend. So over the course of my trip, I’ve gotten stuck with a lot of lopsided contests — great teams playing mediocre teams, good teams playing downright awful teams, and so on. I knew that going in, and I was cool with it. But I knew that at the very least, towards the end of my trip, I’d be getting in two headliner games that seemed like they couldn’t be lousy if they tried–Magic-Celtics in Orlando, and Heat-Mavs in Miami.

Orlando would have to wait until Christmas, so first up was the ’06 finals rematch in Miami. On the way from Atlanta, I stopped at Downtown Disney with a friend in town to enjoy all the parts of the most (second-most?) magical place on earth that I couldn’t have when I was there 15 years earlier, and got to enjoy a good deal of that whole 75-degrees-in-December thing hanging out around South Beach. (I knew there was a reason I packed a pair of shorts for this trip.) I even got to stay in one of those crazy Art Deco hotels on the beach for one of the nights, which was nice, except they were so arrogant about their temperature supremacy that my bed only came with a single sheet for covering. C’mon, you guys are cool and all, but you’re not the tropics.

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