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.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

San Antonio Spurs (#23)

When you go into a place of business, you typically get the feel of the product from the people you encounter. All too often, we hear the cliche, "our most important part is our people."

We all know that the Spurs have won 4 NBA titles and have one of the most loyal fan-bases in the NBA. After meeting the Spurs front-office staff and experiencing their culture, its more than a cliche, the organization truly embraces the "people" concept.

I must say that they were one of the hardest teams to get in touch with, and without Shea, I may not have pulled it off, but the effort was worth it after meeting this group.

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At the AT & T Center (yes, formerly SBC Center), we were first greeted by Amanda Tate, who showed us around the arena. First thing I noticed was the signs above the restroom. I love how each city is throwing a different twist on the men's room logo.

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A shot of the court from above.

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Loyal season ticket holders often occupy most of the lower bowl, so these are some of the toughest tickets to come by in the NBA.

Rather than a sea of dreary black seats, festive colors were spread among all of the other seats.

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Up beyond the light up Spurs basketball player, logo, and rodeo rider is the H-E-B (local grocery chain)FANFiesta area.

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The Porch. Great place to get a drink and a view of the outside world.

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On the Plaza level, just try and get a drink at Headlines. The place was packed at halftime.

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The arena also has the largest outdoor patio I've seen to date. Live music and all sorts of pre & post game activities take place here.

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We were each provided with a bag of Spurs merchandise that included t-shirts, Championship DVD, Manu bobblehead, and miniature replica championship trophy.

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Some shots of the concourse

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Last I checked, the Spurs won 4 titles, but I only see 2 here...

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In the past 10 years, the Spurs arena has had quite a few decorations added, including 4 NBA championship banners & the retired jerseys of Sean Elliott, David Robinson, and Avery Johnson.

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Of course there were your typical suites...

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Then there were the suites that aren't so enclosed and much closer to the action (the glass panes are all that separates it from the other seats)

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and then this was a first, suites that didn't have a view of the court. Of course they also had suites similar to other arenas, but these suites can be used to have dinner before the game or for businesses to use before the game.

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We've all seen it on TV, but always wondered what these light-up images were. Basketball player, Spurs symbol, and rodeo.

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A shot with one of the cheerleaders, who stand by the entrance and grant fans photo opportunities.

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The Spurs then treated us to dinner at their Terrace restaurant. I apologize in advance to the reader who commented on the Memphis blog and didn't like seeing me eating shrimp cocktail, but damnit, if I'm treated to some Butterfinger cheesecake and don't take it, I should quit this tour right now.

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Shea enjoyed the Pork B-B-Q a bit too much

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Next we went down to the court, where I got to speak with some more of the Spurs staff. Again, nothing but wonderful. One of the ushers even offered to send me a hard copy of the article published on my tour in the San Antonio Express. A sideline reporter interviewed me for a TV spot, but unfortunately in this business, nothing in predictable and we couldn't get it in during the game.

The Spurs somehow managed to get us second row back, literally inches from the Nets bench.

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Before sitting down, we went to the tunnel to await the Spurs players. While waiting, I came across Sean Elliott, my favorite Spur of all-time. Now a commentator, he was unbelievably generous and wished me well on my visit to San Antonio. When the Spurs players came out of the tunnel, most of them held their arms/hands close to their bodies, I'm assuming because they don't want any rabid fans reaching out and scratching them. I did get the "High-5" from Robert Horry however.

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Shea and I warming up our hands for the "High-5's" in the tunnel. We also had a view of Marc Jackson and Marv Albert doing their pre-game show.

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So finally it was game time. As I said, we were close the the Nets bench. Here's a good example. At one point, someone asked us how we were doing, and Shea says, "Well this guy is giving us a hard time (tapping Stromile Swift on the shoulder), but otherwise okay." Stromile looked over and laughed.

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I looked back and Kiki Vanderweghe & Rod Thorn were sitting behind us. Kiki was too busy being a Casanova, so I didn't bother saying hello.

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Two more of the last minute NBA moves. Kurt Thomas in a trade from Seattle and Damon Stoudamire signed after a buyout from Memphis.

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Tony Parker getting the Spurs going early.

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Tim Duncan about to embarass Josh Boone.

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Lawrence Frank came down to the end of the bench and starting teaching his big men how to rebound, namely DeSagana Diop. It got really hilarious when Frank when back to his seat and and all of the Nets' players started laughing and mocking him. I'm not Kidd-ing.

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At halftime, wheelchair basketball took center stage, but the staff took Shea and I outside to see the Spurs Experience RV. This RV is a bit more than you take to your college football tailgating party.

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The RV can be rented for private parties, corporate events, possibly even to take to the high school prom. Equipped with several flat panel monitors, surround sound, xBox, Spurs memorabilia, couches, kitchen, restroom, even a 37" hi-def panel on the outside...yeah, you could spend a day in here and not even know it.

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Playing xBox with the coyote

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Tim Duncan's shoes

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So the 2nd half began and Vince Carter quickly tried to get the Nets going.

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The coyote proved himself to be one of the best mascots in the league.

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Tim Duncan inbounding

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Vince Carter can only watch as Manu beats everyone down-court for the lay-up.

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But Vince had some offense of his own

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Devin Harris leaving the court, wishing he was in Wisconsin having a bratwurst.

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Tim Duncan showed why he has been one of the league's best, constantly getting past the Nets young big men. He finished with 29 points and 12 boards. While the Nets were competitive early, a scoring drought in the 2nd and 3rd quarters prevented them from being in the game during the second half. The Nets seem to be still learning to work together in the post-Jason Kidd days. The Spurs win this one easily 81-70.

Richard Jefferson throwing in the towel.

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I never dreamed it, but here I am wearing a championship ring from the Spurs latest title.

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The lasting message I received from the Spurs was that in San Antonio, it's all about TEAM. You never see any one of their players standing out from the rest. Duncan, Ginobli, Parker, and Bowen are some of the best players in the league, but none of them try to be singled out or take all of the credit. Even when you see the local advertising, it's never a single player, but rather a group of teammates promoting whatever. If you're looking for a job with this organization, make sure you talk team on your cover letter, or you won't even get your foot in the door.

One thing to keep in mind, when the Spurs are winning all of these championships and going deep into the playoffs every year, the staff has a lot of extra work to do. As the staff of many teams slow down in April or early May, these employees are busy nearly year-round. Winning doesn't come without a commitment from the employees.

I thank the Spurs staff for showing so much enthusiasm for this tour and they clearly will be competing for best experience when its all said and done.

So I also ventured into the city of San Antonio to see what it had to offer. Up until a few weeks before, I had no idea that San Antonio had a tower comparable to the Space Needle, known as The Tower of the Americas.

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A look down at the Alamodome

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Downtown

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I expected The Alamo to be off in some historic preserve in a national park. Far from the truth. Actually nestled right downtown with all kinds of buildings all around it.

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Now I wanted to slap myself for not discovering the Riverwalk previously. All the places I've been, and I somehow always missed this drinking paradise. It wraps all around the city, giving you access to shopping, bars, restaurant, etc. Beer is reasonably priced and you can walk all along the river with it. The pictures you see below are without leaves on the trees, so I can't imagine how nice it looks in the warmer months.

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Lastly, I've seen the orange squirrels of Denver, the black squirrels of Toronto, and now the short-tailed squirrels of San Antonio

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Lastly, to the employees of Burger King; again, I'm sorry...

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Thanks to Amanda Tate, Stacey Mitch, John Robbins, Deven Nongbri, and Benjamin Hunt, Shea Sterner, Jesse from Red Roof Inn

4 comments:

Deven Nongbri said...

Great post and very happy to hear you had a good time in San Antone. You guys are welcome to come back any time. Have fun with the rest of your tour!

Anonymous said...

thanks for doing this! i wish i had the money to go to the US and watch an NBA game.

good luck!

-jordan, philippines

PS. can you include me in your shoutouts? (even on a homemade Charlotte Bobcat banner will do... i think you just finished your dallas american airlines tour). thank you!

Anonymous said...

This is great drew but I wanna see some new orleans on your blog. David Stern owes you some cognac!!!

Anonymous said...

Drew, Do you know how many people envy what you have done? To say you are going to do it and then actually do it! Good for you. I can't guaruntee the Spurs a place in the NBA finals but I can guaruntee if they are there, you can have two tickets to a playoff game from me. You deserve it. I'll keep in touch!!

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