The day had finally arrived. I was finally going to the 'Peake to watch the Thunder live and in person and catching the first installment of the OKC version of the Kobe farewell tour no less. A few of WTLC's friends and readers at Rollin Thunder suggested I chronicle the day so here goes:
December 19th, 2015
I am generally a late sleeper that rolls out of bed around 10'ish or 11'ish, but for the past two days I have not been able to go back to sleep. It is ironic that I am going to my first game in the middle of the holiday season and find I have no more self control than a kid on Christmas morning. Thank goodness the game starts at 4 PM, after back to back nights of just 5 hours in the rack, I don't think I would make it through a normal start time.
I need coffee..... really really bad. We like it strong at our house and I need a caffeine boost and have learned a trick or two over the years. Steal that first cup from a pot of strong coffee while it is brewing and you almost get the equivalent of Turkish coffee. That stuff Robin Williams referred to as "sludge" in the movie Birdcage.
I've had Turkish coffee with dinner twice and didn't get to sleep before four in the morning both times. Don't have any right now, but I will make do with what I have.
OK, sludge consumed..... not good enough, I'm going for a second cup.
Well the sludge did it's job and I have been bouncing off the walls for three and a half hours and completely forgetting to keep this log current and now it is time to shave, shower and... ermmm, get ready. My son is taking me to the game and the first stop of the day is at the in-laws for some holiday cheer and eats. Last year was Chinese take out, this year is Mexican food. I think I better be careful, I want to be loud at the game and bring the thunder, but not the kind that kills your neighbor.
I also want to absorb as much of the live game experience as possible, and I have been informed the gates don't open until 2;30, so we will try to slip away by two. Man! that coffee this morning did the trick.
The Holiday is cheered, Mexican food too good to pass on (Thunder fans beware, hope there are no casualties) and my son and I are on I-35 N heading for the Peake. I have been to downtown Oklahoma City twice in the last 5 years and my son never goes so plotting a course was left to me. We have a parking pass for the Sante Fe parking garage north of Main St. between Broadway and EK Gaylord, or at least that is how it looks on the little map on the back of the pass. Turns out the garage runs north and south along EK Gaylord, something we found out by pure luck while circling the block because we thought we missed what turned out to be a non-existent entrance to the garage from the Broadway side.
Not having been in the city since the completion of MAPS and going on a vague memory of the location of the Peake in relation to the Myriad Gardens, we leave the parking lot. Well, I got us there alright, via the scenic route....
Needless to say, by the time this old dude got to the Peake, any thoughts of sneaking down for a closer look were out the window. I want my chair and I want it now! I'll absorb the whole live game experience from there thank you very very much. I grabbed the biggest glass of ice cold root beer I could find on the way and I sat. I sat there through the first half, halftime, second half and chillin' while the crowd thinned out, and I was happy right where I was.
More on the game experience itself later, but for now, let's talk about the walk back to the car.
Now armed with a better idea of where this parking garage was, my son and I headed back to the car after waiting about 30 minutes following the final buzzer. I told my son it was to let the traffic clear. The truth was, I was mentally preparing myself like a prizefighter does before a big fight for the walk back to the car. And it started off well enough.
I saw where people walked through the Cox Convention Center rather than around it. That would cut this down to a cake walk until we came out on the other side of the Convention Center and I second guessed my original return route:
Yep, I went the wrong way, as illustrated by the red line, the red question mark, and indisputable proof that my memory is not what it used to be. The correct path, the shorter more direct path is obviously the yellow line and why the rest of this post will be done tomorrow.... I'm bushed... good night!
December 20, 2015 - the day after
Wake up, feed the dog, then have a cup of "sludge." I am refreshed, revitalized, and raring to go.
The first thing I have to talk about is what and where "Loud City" is. First the where:
The Premier Balcony, Balcony, Mezzanine, and Loft sections of Chesapeake Energy Arena. Fancy names for the 300's area seats, also known as the cheap seats, the nose bleed section, the peanut gallery, and my personal favorite, paradise. Loud City is home to the bleacher bums, the rowdies, the hecklers, or in other words, R.K's brothers and sisters.
My seat was Club Level, Baseline, Section 210, Row A, Seat 7 (the red X on the image above). The next time I go to a game, I think I will move up, as in up to Loud City Central. Those folks were having a whale of a good time.
Now the what, as in what exactly is Loud City? Let me put it this way, I have been looking for some kind of theme for my posts and at 3:40 PM, precisely 20 minutes before tipoff, the 6000 + voices of Loud City both showed me how it got its name and gave me an idea for a theme name for my posts.
On cue, Loud City literally explodes so abruptly that it's startling and makes you instinctively look up like the sky just cracked. I don't care if it is corny, but I had the same instinctive reaction that you have to a nearby clap of thunder. I ducked. Now I know who Russell Westbrook and the others are gesturing at when they want to raise the volume and these folks deliver. No offense to the club and lower level fans, but ya'll have some work to do on that score.
In honor of my friends in Loud City, my posts will carry the watermark; R.K. Anthony's Sounds of Thunder. Thanks guys.
As I mentioned, my son took me to the game which was a first, so here is another, my first selfie:
Actually, that is my son showing me how to use his phone to take my first selfie. Yes world, old R.K. is a tad cyber-impaired.
Here's the selfie:
Man, no wonder that seat felt tight.... and I think my son is going for that Steven Adams look, but I'll cherish this image and remember it a lot longer than I will the image of that ticket or the score of the game.
Unfortunately, the selfie also shows how our seats were oriented, one behind the other. I am kicking myself today for not taking the rear seat. My son, unlike his father, is a man of few words and I didn't want to bash the nice lady sitting next to me by turning around. So I spent the whole time discussing with this lady the true value of Andre Roberson and the need for more playing time for the Thunder's young rookie, Cameron Payne (something that happened to my utter delight with about 9 1/2 minutes remaining in the game). She knows her Thunder, but with all do respect, I wish I had sat in the rear seat so I could have simply leaned forward and talked my son's ear off.... whether he liked it or NOT!
Speaking of Cameron, I really like his potential. I even have a nickname picked out for him. CamPaign is too political for my taste and Killa Cam just doesn't feel right for a point guard whose hair style works equally well whether it be wearing a NBA uniform leading a team or donning tux and tails conducting the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra so I'm going with "Maestro." I hope he lives up to it.
(After watching the Maestro live, I'm slipping in a note to Billy D; Enes Kanter and Cameron Payne, pick and roll, and Payne's PER just jumped to 15.3)
All in all, it was a great experience, even though I missed the rewind button on my remote control a few times.
I am actually glad my first Thunder game didn't include much drama in the outcome because it gave me a chance to soak up more of the atmosphere. The halftime show featuring Cristin Sandu's Rolla Bolla Act was nice, but I enjoyed the 100 kids showing off their ball handling skills in unison before the game more. They were really fun to watch and had obviously put in a lot of work and there was some of them that really stood out.
It was a disappointment to find out before the game that I wouldn't get to see Kobe Bryant in action.
It was the one thing that could have made the game itself special. I don't care if he is just a shadow of his former self, it would have been an honor to pay homage to the Black Mamba in uniform before he hangs up his Nikes for the last time. All and all, when you get right down to it, any day I get to spend with one or all of my kids is special.
So on that note, there is just one more thing to say about my first game day experience.
(Josh, thank you for taking your old man to his first live NBA game. I will never forget it, but more than that, I will always cherish our Thunder Day together. I love you, Dad)