In the King’s Court (An Evening Courtside with LeBron James)
Part 1: Location, Location, Location
First and foremost, I will preface this, I do not like LeBron James. I think that it is beyond arrogant that anyone would call themselves a ‘King’ and that he gets treatment unlike any other NBA player. That being said, it was still a hell of a experience.
So my buddy Jake texted me around Christmas wanting to know if I was free to go to a Nets-Heat game. To be honest, I’m ambivalent towards the Nets, and I absolutely detest the Heat, but the allure of seeing LeBron play in person at his prime was intriguing. Little did I know however, that I was in for a much crazier experience.
It all began when we got off the R train. We walked straight to Barclays, but as we approached the main entrance, Jake told me to go the other way. I, this being my first time going to the Barclays Center, didn’t really ask questions, and just followed along. It kinda hit me that I might be in for a crazier night than I expected when I saw the letters “VIP” in reflective metal over the entrance that we ended up walking through. I looked over at Jake with an arched eyebrow and he gave me a knowing smile. After walking through the metal detectors and getting our tickets checked, I got into an elevator and went down two levels to enter the VIP lounge.
Sorry, the ‘Calvin Klein’ VIP lounge.
The first thing that greeted me was an ice sculpture with the two team logos. Sitting within that ice sculpture were shrimps. Mounds and mounds and mounds of shrimp. Seeing that the Nets are owned by the Russian billionaire, I guess a few hundred shrimp doesn’t put a big dent in your pocket, but still, it was pretty ostentatious. On the other side of the island was a buffet spread with prime rib, sliders, sushi, and pretty much a bit of every other food that you could possibly want, and the quality was actually surprisingly good. All of it of course, was free, including an open bar, sponsored by Stoli. We grabbed a table and started eating our food and chewing the scenery. It was a pretty eclectic crowd. You had a few families, the archetypical finance guys, what had to be other Russian money men, former athletes, and of course the funniest of all, the man with the impossibly out of his league woman on his arm who was obviously in there to show off. Those were the funniest. Anyways, after we ate our fill, we made our way to the seats.
Normally, a person goes to see an usher and generally gets pointed to his or her section. My first step out of the VIP lounge, I was greeted by security, who immediately put a wristband on me. I took another five steps and another guard checked my ticket. It was another five steps before I realized why they were being so anal about the tickets.
I was walking through the tunnel that the players walk through to get on the court.
The Nets logo was emblazoned on the tunnel to my left, to my left, above me, and below. And then I stepped out into the court. It’s a funny thing, you never realize the enormity of the thing until you’re right on the floor. Thousands and thousands of seats all geared to showcase this relatively small piece of hardwood. A basketball court is just a basketball court, the same dimensions as the one in your high school, but to stand on one that’s been elevated to a stage for thousands live, and millions on TV, it’s something else. Another thing they don’t tell you, the jumbotron is fucking enormous. It is a monstrosity of modern technology and is a bit daunting to sit under. You realize that is some engineer or construction worker screwed up somewhere, you’re in a world of trouble.
When the thought of “Death by JumboTron” crosses your mind, you know you have ridiculous seats.
And ridiculous they were, courtside, 5 feet away from the basket.
And that was just the beginning.