I mentioned briefly in my last post that John and I were upgraded from our very respectable seat upstairs [front row, center court] to seats in the first row directly behind press row at center court in Aisle 101. 

Just as we approach the escalator, a Clippers sales rep snags us and asks if we were season ticket holders.  Nod.  He then asks if we’d like to be upgraded for tonight’s game.  I figure they’ll stick us in some decent seats in the corner of the 200 level.  The rep hands us the tickets, and the first thing I notice is the face value of the ticket: $850.  I then offer the guy some variation of You’re-Shitting-Me, though I can’t recall exactly.

The Clippers organization takes a lot of flack from the top on down, but Sunday night confirmed my experience of the last seven years:  Given the opportunity to be responsive or to engage in douchebaggery, they choose the former.   My sense is that Clippers personnel recognizes that it’s been a crap ride for fans historically, and they fully acknowledge it by valuing season ticket holders.  Bryan Strayer, our sales guy, can turn shit around on the phone in five minutes, most recently scoring a ticket adjacent to our seats because we want to bring a third to the Miami game.

Impressions from center court from John and myself:

  • Sam Cassell gets paid by the word.  He’ll talk to anyone.  At any time.  He and Dunleavy have an ongoing dialogue throughout the game.

  • Steve Javie:  A lot better than you think and inordinately charming.  One of the things you pick up when you sit courtside is just how hard it is for these guys to make routine foul calls.  NBA players engage in constant physical contact at ridiculous speeds.  I’m amazed that officials do as well as they do.   On another note, running into an NBA screener is brutal.  No wonder these guards wear down over the course of the season. 

  • LeBron James good-naturedly in the second quarter to a heckling fan, “Shut your mouth and watch the game!”

  • Penny Marshall is a bad investment away from being a bag lady.  She’s an absolutely schlep and carries, like three tote bags with her at all times.

  • John’s favorite sequence: “Clipper ball.  Sam has it up top. Dunleavy calls out a play (3-down I believe), Sam calls it, and almost instantly Damon Jones barks the play name to his Cavs.  I know this is obvious... but they know our sets, we know their sets:  this is professional basketball people.”   We determined from repeated series that this set is designed for Kaman in the post coming over from the weak side post.  I think.

  • Whatever you say about Dunleavy, I saw a guy who made constant adjustments throughout the course of the game, and a superb defensive coach.  He’ll switch defensive assignments on a dime and generally they’re the right call.  Nobody is more pissed off than he is when the Clippers give up double-digit offensive rebounds a game. 

  • Al Thornton is still disoriented a fair amount of the time on both ends of the floor.

  • Chris Kaman is quick.  Not just quick for a big man…

  • Why can’t Mike Brown go to the men’s counter at Macy’s and pick up some stays for his collar? 

Being handed complimentary courtside tickets is like getting a free sample of crack on the playground – after one hit, you’re desperate for more.