Thursday, August 18, 2011

6 comments Inside The NBA Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony

This past weekend I was lucky enough to get a media pass through Dime for the Hall of Fame ring ceremony. Here's a recounting of my adventures.

When I arrived at Mohegan Sun at 3:30 P.M. for the Basketball Hall of Fame ring ceremony, Dennis Rodman was standing in the lobby surrounded by his entourage. The journalist in me wanted to drop my bags and fire questions at him, but my polite and respectful human side held me back. So there I was, waiting for the elevator and shooting awkward glances at Rodman, somehow thinking that maybe he’d walk over to where I was and strike up a conversation with me. Of course this would lead to an impromptu gambling session where he would bankroll me in Blackjack, followed by endless hours of drunken debauchery and the greatest night of my life. Then the elevator sound came, I snapped back into reality and Rodman caught me looking at him. But I was frozen, so I kind of just kept staring. After a brief moment, he gave the “yep, it’s me” look. Maybe not as good as I had hoped for, but good enough.

At 5:30 I headed to the cocktail hour, during which time the cheese platter and I became best of friends. Our courtship wasn’t smooth at first; it was more of an awkward dance. Free food is great, but you don’t want to come off as a hoarder. Sure, you can always take the no shame route and just stand there for an hour, but plenty of people around, I didn’t want to be an obvious hoverer. Luckily there were a few platters scattered throughout the room so I could divert my hoarding three ways. Ultimately, though, I still had to continually rediscover the platters, pretending my palate had yet to experience the delicious array of culinary delights.

A few drinks and a lot of different bread a cheese combos later, it was time for the dinner and ring ceremony in the main room. Coaches, players and contributors walked down the center aisle (with plenty of circular tables on each side) accompanied by loud applause, as everyone’s accomplishments and contributions to basketball were announced along the way. Dennis Rodman received the loudest cheers, as he slowly strutted down the aisle with his feathered head attire.

Then, of course, came the most important part. Steak dinner. Somehow the Mohegan kitchen staff knew I liked my stake medium rare, so I was pretty psyched. The mild calm that had fallen over the entire room was a nice respite, but I knew it was merely a product of Rodman’s absence. When asked where he was going, Rodman reportedly claimed he couldn’t speak because he was “celebrating.” I thought that would be reserved for his after party at the Ultra 88 Night Club, but apparently not.

When it came time for the ring presentation, all the players hopped up on stage. As each player received his ring, everyone answered a few questions and displayed the respect and class the Hall of Fame and Mohegan Sun deserved. Of course the second the ceremony ended, Rodman was gone – celebrating, I assume. Luckily I managed to snag a few minutes with Tom “Satch” Sanders to talk basketball. I knew he was a nice guy, but he couldn’t have been happier to take a few minutes to speak with me.

When the official ceremony ended and everyone headed out, I ran back to the cheese platter, grabbed what I could and shove it in my mouth as I headed to play No Limit Hold ‘Em. By 3:30 am, I had doubled my money and was ready to walk away. But a part of me couldn’t get up because the guy directly to my left was literally giving away chips. He pushed all-in with terrible cards, and every player at the table combined must have taken at least $1,200 from him. So I stayed, found myself in a huge hand with the table’s strongest player, and ended up with zero chips in front of me. Whoops. So I walked away, exhausted and frustrated, but ready to go to my room and pass out.

Despite my minor financial mishap, I can say I walked away happy. Mohegan Sun and the Basketball Hall of Fame put on an event that I will remember for years to come.


Helping Out/No Talent For You! said...

Dylan, I've enjoyed your basketball diaries, and this piece as well.

I've given you a hard time in the past, because I felt you tried too hard to be cool and/or funny. You have a really good grasp of cadence and language, and when you're being yourself, there's a natural, slightly self-deprecatory sense of humor to your writing that's very compelling. And so far, you've used it in just the right amounts.

I think you're still finding your voice, but pieces like these distinguish you and make you worth reading. Thanks for posting this!

Dylan said...

Thanks for the kind words. The good comes with the bad, I guess.

Bengoodfella said...

Helping out/No Talent, you are the reason I like the people who comment on our blog. I have no issue with people ripping what we write, but when something doesn't suck you say that as well. We've been really lucky to have good commenters who can tell us we are stupid or talentless when they feel it is necessary, but also be fair when something isn't stupid or talentless. Thanks for commenting on this piece.

Really, of the people write for this blog I am clearly the most talentless. Let's never forget that. I nitpick things sportswriters write, get all snarky, use run-on sentences and rarely write a serious piece like Dylan does.

Dylan, though I do have to keep interviewing NBA players and keep writing for Dime, it may be awkward one day when I have to cover one of the pieces you've written!

cs said...

Nice article... I'm curious, did you go by yourself, and thus, were you forced to make awkward small talk with the rest of the press as you guys waited?

Dennis Rodman note - I was at a tiki bar in Fort Lauderdale last year, enjoying a beer, looking over the ocean, and suddenly everything changed. Everyone around me began to turn around, like a set of human dominoes. The entire energy changed, and lo and behold, Dennis Rodman was magically sitting in the corner, drinking and hanging out with some middle-aged white guys. It was pretty remarkable and surreal because it was the last place to expect to see Rodman, and also, he had this incredibly unique presence and almost reptilian appearance.

Bengoodfella said...

CS, I saw Derek Fisher at a hotel bar in Atlanta one time. I was so excited because it was the last place I expected to see him too. I like wandered around the hotel bar to get a better look at him since he was talking to two women and I wanted a story to tell. Then I realized it was just someone who looked like Derek Fisher. Very depressing.

No lie though: At a bar in Charlotte, on two separate occasions, I saw Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon was surrounded by guys (there was one girl in the group of a/b 10 ppl) wanting his autograph and Earnhardt was surrounded by girls wanting...him. This did nothing in my mind to dispel the rumors about Gordon.

Also, I saw Jason Schmidt (ex-Giants, Pirates, Dodgers pitcher) and made an ass of myself like I usually do and managed to insult him. Either way, Dylan and your stories are much cooler than mine.

Dylan said...

I think it's hilarious that we all have these concrete opinions hating/loving athletes, but when it comes to actually see them, we break down and start acting like 5-year-old girls.