This blog will chronicle my attempt to visit all 30 NBA Arenas during the 2007-08 season.

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Contact info: Drew Cieszynski 2637 N. Frederick Ave. Apt# 106 Milwaukee, WI 53211 / 717.676.9963 / acieszyn@hotmail.com

Click below on "2007" to view the first 13 arenas.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Phoenix Suns (#20)

In the words of Shaq "Can You Dig It?!?!"

The 2/3 point of the tour takes us to arena #20 - The Phoenix Suns, just in time for a "big" new addition.

You would think the Phoenix would provide the "best," most predictable weather of the tour, but heck no, just more rain...at least it's not snow!

The Suns arena has a great downtown location, just a block away from the baseball stadium. Some of the parking lots nearby have some of the heftiest prices I've seen to date, but if you're willing to park just a few blocks away, you can save dramatically.

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Attending this game with me would be the largest crowd yet, including my girlfriend, Dave & Shana Morrow, Katie Crisman

Outside the arena was the ESPN van, and I had to take a pic w/ Bill Walton and Stephen A. Smith:

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When we got inside, the Director of Media Relations, set us an an intern, Noah, who took us courtside.

Check out all of the fun stuff that the Suns provided me with during my visit; including an xBox controller, t-shirts, hat, and playing cards:

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Please take a moment to admire the beautiful sign that Shana Morrow created for me.

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Can you spot "Thunder" Dan Marjerle?

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Out come the Phoenix Suns. See below at Alando Tucker, Grant Hill, and Brian Skinner looking up in amazement when they saw a sign for NBAdrew in the stands.

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Getting this close to NBA stars never gets old (yes, Steve Nash in the background)

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Boris Diaw getting "mic'd up" for the ESPN telecast

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And then...this part really gave me goosebumps...about 5 minutes after all of the rest of the Phoenix Suns came out, a roaring sound came from the crowd. I turned to the tunnel and out came Shaquille O'Neal. A pre-game ovation like I had never heard before. Somewhat of an emotional moment for me as I starting to love the game of basketball when "Shaq" came into the leaque. You can not believe his monstrous size until you see him in person.

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Two great fans

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Just because Shaq has arrived, let's not forget another great big man in the NBA, Amare Stoudamire

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Grant Hill, probably the most under-rated member of the Phoenix Suns. Great to see him healthy.

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2 time MVP Steve Nash

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A top 5 mascot of the NBA, the gorilla joins the tour

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Now many of you that know me, know that the player introductions are my favorite part of the game, and the Suns organization allowed me to stand on court for the duration of them.

Amare, Shaq, and Grant

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You can't really appreciate the following picture until you notice the 6 cameramen crouched in front of Shaquille during the anthem.

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Nash was announced last, but guess who received the largest ovation. A 7 foot, 1 inch center from Louisiana...

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Before going up to our seats, we got to see a dining area where the old court served as the floor.

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The Suns on-site practice court

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I hope no one tries to walk through those doors behind the backboard!

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The ring of fame goes around the arena, featuring greats such as Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson

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The Verizon Wireless Jungle, has an arcade as well as many food options. Cell phones and a jungle? nice.

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The court from above

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I really enjoyed the 4 out-of-town scoreboards, giving not only scores, but the stats of 3 players from each team.

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Reminded me of an old American Gladiators game

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Pierce makes a move to the basket. Possibly my most memorable moment of the game was when Paul Pierce went up for a dunk and pulled a "Sprite commercial," meaning the ball hit the front of the rim and he fell backwards, blowing the dunk. I love seeing the Celtics fail, as through 20 arenas, they are still the only franchise to not help the NBA tour.

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Kevin Garnett at the line

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The Diesel steps to the line

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Right before the start of the 3rd quarter, the US Airways Center becomes the Gorilla's house:

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Right after halftime, we were permitted to go to the Suns locker room. As we walked in, we looked to the right and saw the coach's office where former SPURS player Vinny Del Negro was lounging.

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Now most of us in the real world couldn't really use this hand dryer?

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While you probably can't tell, those shower heads are up there too. Also hilarious in the industrial size of soap/shampoo.

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The "lockers." O'Neal is just 2 away from Amare.

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I used to lay awake at night and wonder what Steve Nash's locker looked like? Now I can sleep easier.

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My favorite part was seeing the scouting report on the Celtics:

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The best line comes from Rajon Rando's paper:
"He is Doc's whipping boy"

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No shortness of energy bars

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The machine in the foreground allows athletes to put varying amount of pressure on different parts of their body, important for a quick rehab. The machine in the background is "CAT - Colorado Altitude Training." For the games in Denver.

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The Celtics haven't proofed to be so tough lately. Likely but of Garnett's injury, but nonetheless they had just lost to Denver and Golden State. The Celtics looked flat from the get-go. Phoenix got an early lead and never let the Celtics back in it with Amare Stoudamire leading the way (28 points). Shaquille did just what he was brought in to do: he gave Amare more opportunities, he played defense, and pulled down 14 rebounds. The Suns won 85-77, snapping the NBAdrew losing skid at 3 games.

One additional thing to add here, while in the Chicago Midway airport, I ran into a large man...former NBA player Manute Bol.

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A great place to stop after the game: Cooperstown...no, not the baseball hall of fame, but a bar owned by Alice Cooper

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Now, time to see some of the sights outside the arena:

Sun Devil Stadium

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Welcome to Old Town Scottsdale. Tourist trap by day, great nightlife for the locals in the evening (& yes, you notice that it rained while I was in Phoenix)

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One of my crowning achievements of life, climbing to the top of this mountain (I am the spec at the very top). See video below also

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Just about 3-4 hours north is the Grand Canyon...a must see.

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Notice the Colorado river in the middle

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Below is some shots of Sedona. It's said to be the most beautiful town in America, just a short drive south of the Canyon.

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Everyone's favorite plant from Arizona

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Picking up rocks

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Passing through Boulder City

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Some hot air balloons

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& just up the street (5 hours away) is Las Vegas, so while I'm in town, I thought I'd seize the opportunity.

On the way up, you have to stop at the Hoover Dam, a modern marvel:

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Lake Mead

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This place has happy hour 24 hours a day

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At the Flamingo

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Paris in America?

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New York New York in Nevada

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The MGM Grand and the largest bronze statue in the Western Hemisphere

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The lions inside the MGM Grand (notice all of the tourists in the background)

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The Excalibur

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The Bellagio

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and the fountains out front...

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The strip from the Venetian

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A look from the other end of the strip

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Inside the Venetian after 11 PM at night, but still appears to be during the day...

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The Mirage

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Before you leave Vegas, you have one last chance to gamble in the airport, but if you've lost all your money and just want to feel a bit better, try out the oxygen bar:

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Thanks to Jaime Morris, Noah, Katie Crisman, Dave & Shana Morrow, Dave Cullison.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

what a fun trip

Ryan Montgomery said...

That look like an awesome TRIP! How did they let you in the locker room? Let me know.

Steve Winters said...

this looked like the most interesting trip for more than a couple reasons. one, i love the phoenix suns (steve nash), two the grand canyon, and three being that close to las vegas and seizing the oppurtunity to go. the suns organization looked to have treated you well, congrats on everything!

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Milwaukee, WI, United States