My 2010 NBA Draft Experience

It all began a long time ago when my mother and father met in Japan where my dad was studying ninjutsu and my mother was visiting from the Phillipines. It was there that they decided to come together. As a result, I was born into this crazy world and 30+ years later, find myself at the 2010 NBA Draft as a credentialed media member representing Now, I hold Sebastian and Mark (Devin, not so much) in the highest regard and didn’t want to disappoint them with my coverage… especially since I wasn’t certain how I would cover the draft. I was more lost than the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815. Obviously, admitting not knowing what to write about is not an admission that will promote confidence in my ability to write for NAS, but honestly, I got to take a picture with Craig Sager, adorned in that beautiful lavender of his and that’s pretty *damn cool!

*Sebastian had to remind me to not curse when I wrote this, otherwise, I would have used a more profane adjective in front of “cool.”

So, my dilemma… how do I cover the NBA Draft in a manner different from the mainstream media that also keeps it interesting? After praying seven hours to the basketball gods for the Philadelphia 76ers to draft Derrick Favors, so the New Jersey Nets could take Evan Turner that’s when it hit me like a good looking woman I just hit on, an angle that no one else besides myself could handle – a personal journal entry! Perfect! I could kill two birds with one stone: 1) give the NAS reader something different and 2) make me the focal point because I love me! I call it my LeBron James impersonation.

Dear 2010 NBA Draft Experience Journal Entry,

First of all, #wordapp. Second of all, I am really digging being a part of NAS and appreciate the opportunity bestowed upon me to cover this year’s draft. In its own way, the draft is like my very own six-year max contract, minus the money and even an ounce of basketball talent.

The adventure towards Madison Square Garden began with a second shower, which was necessary after an unfortunate meeting of my mixed flavored Super Slurpee and the back of my knees. Don’t ask. My lovely wife was gracious enough to not only not mock me, but to give me a lift to the train station as well. She’s a good egg that one, although as she drove off I thought I heard laughter and the words, “Slurpee” and “dummy,” but I’m sure that was just my own sense of insecurity. I also call this my LeBron James impersonation.

Anyway, 2010 NBA Draft Experience Journal Entry, as I hopped on the E train, a feeling of aromatic transedence came upon me like a soft blanket over a child during winter, which I quickly assesed was the man sitting next to me. A man that was indubitably the paragon of rebellion against hygiene. So, I moved… and sat in front of the hipster (pictured to the right). Understand that hipsters are truly annoying to me because they remind me of all the artists and musicians during my college years that took themselves too seriously. Sure they banged more than drums for which I give them man points, but they just seemed so generally vapid and overenthusiastic about whatever scene they were into. Yes, sports fans can be zealous as well (understatement), but they don’t wear those skinny jeans things that hug the package. Hmm… maybe that’s why all the chicks dug them. Anyway, at least hipsters aren’t that next rung down in the evolutionary ladder, emo kids.

The rest of the train ride to the 34th Street Station on the E line was uneventful as I reached my destination, the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden. And once I got inside, it turned eventful as quickly as Ben Linus’ allegiance. (Yes, that’s another Lost reference… I miss the show!). After checking in, having my bag fondled by security, something the respective guard did with eerie delight, and **having the wand that would make certain I wasn’t a Terminator passed along the outline of my body, I entered the hallway of the Theatre at MSG. And who should be right there, but Jon Barry, ESPN and ABC basketball analyst getting his make-up dabbed on. Sweet… it couldn’t get better than this, right?

** When the wand was being used on me, I instinctively lifted my arms and spread my legs like da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man while cursing out the guard in my mind since that’s what I did growing up when going to the movies at Co-Op City in the Bronx and other movie theaters in less savory New York neighborhoods. Yes, I’m looking for street cred.

But then, in walked Kevin Durant behind me. Durantula himself! He stopped by to chat with Barry a bit, asking which make-up product line he liked more. Actually, their convo was inaudible to me, so who knows? Durant very well could have asked that. In any case, pics are below in sequence. Feel free to click on the image to enlarge. Apologies for any blurriness, but it wasn’t my iPhone’s fault, but rather, that’s just how Durant is – shifty. But, I was able to stop him unlike NBA defenders and shook his hand, wishing him luck next season (like he needed it). Now, while I did eventually wash my hands (I jock no one!), at the moment of shaking Durant’s hand, it was like electricity coursing through my body. Don’t worry, I won’t continue to make anymore Thunder puns.

And into the Theatre itself I went, the front of which was adorned with wires and monitors set up for ESPN’s coverage, laptops galore of the media buzzing about, and the green “room” for all of the potential NBA draftees and their respective family and friends. Note that the green room is actually just a cordoned off section separated not only by the ambiguous line between media and potential draftees, but also the casual look of said media and the sharply dressed future millionaire ballers. Obviously, I wished I was on the other side because the proverbial grass was actually greener. Below is a pic of an empty NBA Draft Board and the players in attendance. The line-up to say “cheese” was done early and I also was there early enough to hear NBA Commissioner David Stern do his run-through. Not one flub. He’s like a pro or something.

Eventually, Durant made his way to TNT and NBA-TV personality, Craig Sager. Both played a big role during this draft experience, as you probably gathered by now, and a lot of it was because I was there so early. Yes, I got the worm… and a ton of pics of the duo, which I won’t be sharing all of. After the draft while looking through my pictures, I started to wonder if I was becoming like Robert DeNiro in The Fan. But then I remembered it was unfair to compare Durant to Wesley Snipes (let alone myself to DeNiro) and if I was to “always bet on black,” it’d be the taller version I put money on. In any case, below are a few pics of Sager and Durant, as well as picture of some event workers that were talking and fawning over Durant… who wasn’t even wearing skinny jeans!

So, it was off to figure out where I could set-up shop. I eventually learned that, unfortunately, was not within the frenzy of what I’m calling the pit, the immediate section below the stage, but rather I was designated to sit in the balcony. What the heck? In this particular instance I didn’t want to move on up, The Jeffersons style, so after bumping into Tas Melas from The Basketball Jones, I knew where I would lay my laptop – in the back where the draftees would be ushered to to do their pressers. What a fortunate stroke of luck to learn that tidbit. Bye bye madness of The Theatre, hello roomful of other basketball geeks that like to pitter patter on their comps! It was also back here that I had the opportunity to meet other hoops bloggers I respect and have corresponded with through Twitter or Facebook. So, props to Melas’ TBJ partner and hetero lifemate, J.E. Skeets, and Michael Tillery from The Starting Five and SLAM Online. Good to meet you, sirs. Oh, and also, as I was making my way to the back, the aisle to get to the pit was hectic and I bumped into a nice lady and excused myself like the gentleman that I am. After getting ready at the presser and watching the TV to see whom the Nets would pick, I found out that lady was John Wall’s mother.

However, it was probably best meeting Mike Slane from because in the past we’ve collaborated together online and never met. That’s pretty much the way it goes in the land of the internets. In any case, we sat next to each other the entire draft and were cracking on everyone. Okay, I was cracking on everyone and Slane was just laughing. Nice guy, much like the player the fans were calling him at one point when Slane was walking around the pit – Gordon Hayward. What do you think? Maybe if Slane cut his hair, right? As a sidenote, as Slane and I were walking around the hallway, we were standing next to Hayward who was being introduced to his second cousin for the first time. I guess when you make crazy loot and become famous, family truly does come out of nowhere!

A cool thing about the draft that I appreciated was the free food for the media. And by food, I mean those things that will make your waistline expand – cookies, brownies, chips, soda, and the regular lot of empty calories. Of course, there were also some fruit strewn about, which were basically untouched and whose addition was similar to the order of Diet Coke to go with one’s two cheeseburgers, french fries, chicken nuggets, and apple pie. Needless to say I gorged myself, not necessarily because I like that type of “food,” but because I live by one motto and one motto alone – If it’s for free, it’s for me. Don’t judge me.

The players that were drafted and in attendance (congrats to you all and please beware of groupies) eventually did their pressers and I was there, but won’t relay anything in this post for a few reasons:

1) the internet is inundated with the same information that I could give you (obviously without the same flair and palpable magnetism)
2) this is getting way too long of a post and if you’ve read this far, you are a masochist
3) I will do a separate post later about the draftees meeting with the media

However, two comments must be made here that struck my fancy:

1) DeMarcus Cousins was asked what his favorite college course was and he answered, “Sociology.” I actually cracked a Joker-style smile at that.
2) The NBA stenographer made all of our jobs easier by doing her thing and getting all of us media types the interview transcripts. Miss, we love you. Or at least I do. In an obvious abstract sort of way since I don’t know you. However, I’m available for drinks if you like.

The night ended at 2:30 AM for me as I walked through my door. The 2010 NBA Draft Experience was an excellent one, 2010 NBA Draft Experience Journal Entry, and I’m looking forward to doing it again in 2011. I think I might even wear a lavender ensemble.

Dennis Velasco is a writer who is more beat than Heidi Montag’s natural body that is hidden under a slew of plastic. He promises to post more draft stuff later after a replenishing afternoon at the spa AKA his bed. If you don’t mind the occasional offensive tweet, feel free to follow him on Twitter @dv140. Snausages.