Since the missus was in-charge of our US itenerary, I made it a point to watch a live Lakers game during our stay. Lucky enough, there was a home game versus the Atlanta Hawks on Feb19, just 2 days before we were to fly back to Manila.
I was able to get a seat at the upper section (as in taas na taas) courtesy of CV (thanks pare!). G drove me just about 2 blocks away from the Staples Center since traffic was quite heavy during that time. No problem since the weather was cool for walking.
There was a long queue but I managed to get in within 5 minutes. The level that I entered was "m" which I supposed stood for mezzanine. My ticket was marked "u" so I had to find a way to get to the upper level. Good thing there were guides available for lowly first-timers like me.
As I walked onto the upper level, I found my seat had to be reached by passing thru 2 heavy-built Mexicans, 3 normal-built Americans, and a European couple holding a less than a year old infant. They were all kind enough to stand up and let me pass.
When I reached my seat and looked down at the famed basketball court below me with the scoring monitors in clear view, I felt tears about to drop from my eyes. As in every NBA fan's wishlist, it was my dream to watch an NBA game live ---and I was finally there. This is truly on top of my "been there, done that" list.
There were unconfirmed reports earlier that day that Kobe wasn't going to play because of an injured pinky. But he was there, along with newly-signed star player Pau Gasol who's playing his first home game.
The stadium was about 95% full, with all sorts of characters and countless #24 jerseys worn among some of the crowd. When the Hawks' starting 5 was introduced, the home crowd booed as usual, the loudest of which was for star guard Mike Bibby. He was the only star player I know from that team, the last one being the great dunker Dominique Wilkins pero syempre matagal nang retired yun.
Then, the stadium lights all turned off and a long white curtain encircling the scoring monitors dropped to the court which doubled as a large 360 degree screen. It was the Lakers' turn to introduce their starting five. Man, it gave me chills!
Watching the game is totally different when watched from TV. There are no sports commentators but there were instant replays courtesy of the viewing monitors on top of the court. The Laker Girls performance is something to be enjoyed as well, of course (wink wink).
The game ended lopsided in favor of the Lakers, which beat the Hawks by over 30 points. It was expected of course, since the Hawks are no match for the Lakers' firepower.
As I walked off to the pick-up point that G and I agreed on, I felt a smile on my face. Another item checked on my to-do list.
Life is good.