A FAN'S "FIRST TIME"

A FAN'S "FIRST TIME"

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TO THE FLYER:

Forgive me for being a greenhorn who has yet to experience most of the finer things in life. But on Tuesday night February 18, 2003, my husband and I received free NBA courtside tickets to the Memphis Grizzlies-vs.-Indiana Pacers game at the Pyramid . It was an authentic “first-time” experience, one of the best of my life. I became very unreserved and began to yell and boo when Hubie Brown, the Grizzlies head coach, received two technical fouls within the first 10 minutes of the game and was thrown out. The second technical foul was unjustified. Apparently that was the overall consensus because the stadium went crazy. And I was one of the main people leading the pack. Our courtside seats were in the front row. I was literally two feet away, if not closer, to Jason Williams, Lorenzen Wright, Reggie Miller... I actually got up and touched Lorenzen on his shoulder as he was waiting inches inside the line as he prepared himself for the ball to be thrown in bounds, which would have initiated resumption of play. Lorenzen turned around looked at me - as if to make sure I wasn't a dude trying to pick a fight - and then without saying a word or changing his serious facial expression, he turned back around and continued to focus on what he was doing. But I didn't care. I touched him! With my right hand, which was now moist with perspiration after touching Lorenzen, I tapped Harvey, my husband, and said, "Babe, I just touched Lorenzen Wright." First Harvey asked, "Why are you putting another man's sweat on me?" Then he said that I better behave before I either got arrested for touching the players or before the players started to beat him up. The latter is a man thing, I guess. I don't know what he meant by that and he wouldn't tell me when I asked. As I attempted to regain control of myself, it dawned on me that I was about 25 feet away from the great, the one and only, the hall-of-famer - Isaiah Thomas. The excitement of the moment regained its hold on me. Being a sports fan, I had watch Isaiah play basketball during his entire professional career. Now, finally, I was in the same room with him. I said to myself, to hell with my dignity and self-control, this is a bigger than life moment and I am going to enjoy it. At the beginning of the game the Pacers were up by about 12 points or so. The Grizzlies tied the game. The lead flipped flopped for quite a while. Then, an 8-year-old boy sitting two seats to my left began to continually shout “Reggie Miller you suck.” Eventually, the boy got Reggie’s attention. On one occasion, Reggie with an annoyed look on his face, made direct eye contact with the kid. After that, classic Reggie emerged. He began hitting threes, twos - just dominating. It was funny because when Reggie gave the kid a mean look, the kid got really quiet and began staring at the floor. He looked as if he felt ashamed of himself for harassing Reggie. Fast-forwarding, Memphis was up by three with seconds left on the clock. Guess who hit a three at the buzzer to tie the game and send it into overtime? You guessed it - that damn Reggie Miller! I am surprised I still have my voice. I screamed so much Tuesday night, I felt as though my outbursts willed the Grizzlies, so to speak, to win the game by three in overtime. Although Jason Williams has his problems - some say - he has always been one of my favorite players. I can't count how many times I called his name Tuesday night while ecstatically cheering him on. Harvey thinks I am crazy when it comes to certain things anyway, so he just let me enjoy the game. He cheered also, but being an ex-high school and college basketball player himself, he yelled and was frustrated by incorrect technical basketball procedures - who wasn’t checking their man - etc. Boring! Just kidding! I like the technical stuff too. Man, let me tell you that kid Tinsley for the Pacers made an incredible move to the hoop. Harvey and I were both like oooh! Jamine O'Neal blocked some key shoots - all ball! Artest, Thomas' new bad boy (in the making), is fun to watch also. And to think, most of the key players for the Pacers besides Reggie Miller are very young. They have a pretty good crew for the future. But they didn’t have enough to beat our Grizzlies, who I am proud to say also have a young talented team, which is destined to be a force to be reckoned with in the near future. Honestly, if we had courtside tickets when MIKE was in town - even as sorry as he has been playing during this final comeback - not only would I have lost my voice screaming his name, I would have definitely been tossed out of the game or worst - gotten arrested. I would have surely copped a feel. It’s that simple. I mean, a real good one! I love Michael Jordan. Oh, but everyone already knows that. Well, my life is ruined now. I can't imagine going to another professional basketball game and watching from the stands. I want or rather need courtside seats. Since that is not feasible because even the young Grizzlies’ courtside seats are $500 each - I can't image what the price would be for the elite teams like The Lakers or The Knicks - I have to admit that we will only get the opportunity to sit on the court when/if we are graciously offered free courtside tickets again. It's not fair being poor! The Grizzlies need me on their sidelines to help them win. Occasionally, they can reward me by letting me fondle their players :-) I wonder what else I am missing out on in life? Deborah Allen-Sykes Memphis

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