Saturday, November 11, 2006

Warriors beat the Hornets (NBA)

We took advantage of tickets for Thursday night’s Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma/New Orleans Hornets NBA game. I don’t think I’ve seen a basketball match since Channel 4 showed them on Tuesday(?) nights when they first started broadcasting.

Picking up the reserved tickets from the booth, we went down into the corporate section, grabbed hot dogs and cheesy nachos (though it didn’t taste like it had ever been near a cow!) and took our ringside seats just as the game started.

Being newbies to the sport, and being completely unprepared, at that stage we didn’t even know it was NBA, never mind who the teams were! But after a while, the partisan crowd made it clear who the home team were - the Oakland Warriors. Massive cheers for home baskets and boos for fouls against the Warriors. Complete silence when the visiting Hornets scored. Massive boos when they took penalty throws (or whatever they’re called).

Four twelve minute quarters: 48 minutes stretched over two and a half hours. The frequent time outs and intervals featured the delights of the colourful house band perched on a high up balcony complete with jib cam to get shots of them, the Warrior’s mascot bouncing around the stadium, giving out caps to the season ticket holder of the week, and the frighteningly youthful cheerleaders who appeared in a different costume every quarter to add colour to the event.

There is a disadvantage to good seats. Row two, which is actually about six rows back by the time the team, statisticians and commentators have taken their places. The downside is that you’re too close to the action, having to move your head to track the ball. Further up in the cheap seats, there’s a birds eye view of the entire court, and probably better a atmosphere as everyone is jammed in.

When we got home to the hotel, ESPN had compressed the two and a half hours of “action” down to a thirty second summary. Our seats were just out of shot as zoomed in on the basket, though we could occasionally see ourselves on the central suspended scoreboard.

Just in case you’ve got here via Google, I should point out that the final score was Warriors 121, Hornets 116. The Hornets were the last unbeaten team in the NBA league.

While the Warriors were always in the lead, the Hornets only tailed behind by a few points the whole way through.

The last five minutes of the last quarter was the longest half hour in history. The last thirty seconds was the longest five minutes. Could the Hornets claw back six points to grasp victory. Surely there wouldn’t be time.

But a couple of lucky breaks and careless fouls by the Warriors gave them lots of chances. They climbed back to within two points with less than ten seconds to spare. And then they gave way at the end, leaving the Warriors to take a five point lead.

All in all an enjoyable experience - about the only chance I had to get out in the 54 hours I was in SF.

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