When I got the news that I would be traveling with the team to LA to cover the Western Conference Finals I knew it would be hard work and no fun. Ok I don’t think my boss is reading this. Here’s a few fun stories from behind-the-scenes in LA…
LA “strikes” me as Superficial
After we landed on Sunday afternoon, I ventured out to see what the downtown L.A. Live district had to offer. After dinner at the ESPN Zone, I decided to bowl a few frames at Lucky Strike. I, however, was not so lucky. In true LA fashion this bowling alley had a dress code, velvet ropes, and a bouncer at the door.
Reason #521 to beat LA.
Alvin Gentry can sing.
As we sat courtside at the Staples Center Monday morning, Coach Gentry was entertaining his staff before shoot around on Monday and offered to take requests. When I asked for a little Tony Bennett, he scoffed “Come on, that’s easy!” but then got distracted with the minor business of coaching the team. I’m still waiting for my song, Coach.
Later that day, I rode the elevator up with Coach Gentry and Elvis Valcarcel when Coach broke into a rendition of Queen’s “Bicycle Race”. When no one joined in his singing he surmised, “Hmm…must not be Freddie Mercury fans.”
Take what they give you.
Wednesday morning Jared Dudley was where he loves to be – in the corner shooting threes – when assistant Coach Dan Majerle walked up and challenged him: “Bet you $20 you don’t make your next shot.” – Dudley launched but Majerle yelled, “Toe on the line, this doesn’t count!”
As the ball rattled off the iron Dudley smiled and said, “OK”. Under Majerles careful eye Jared made sure he was behind the arc and sank his next shot under pressure.
Dan Majerle is still clutch.
Speaking of Majerle, he hasn’t lost any of his competitive spirit. While the team was stretching in the locker room before practice, he took some shots from the beyond the arc while being being tightly defended by Suns assistant trainer Tom Maystadt.
When one of his shots would clank off the iron he’d shout “Foul!” drawing laughs from his audience. His last attempt was my favorite. He held the ball and called out “Ok, it’s the final seconds…” like a kid practicing in the driveway and launched a shot with a hand in his face that touched nothing but net. Is he elligible to play in this series?
A Fake Fan
The morning of Game 1, I found myself walking back to the hotel with Channing Frye when a man clad in Lakers gear approached. I am as good of a security guard as I am a ballerina so I took a deep breath and waited to curl up into the fetal position if there was a confrontation. “Have a good game,” said the fan sarcastically as he passed.
I turned and laughed with Channing who quipped, “Hey, I’ll take a fake ‘good game’ over getting cussed out any day.”