USA Basketball vs. Dominican Republic at MSG

From a small basketball website to courtside seats at Madison Square Garden

August 22, 2014 - Basketball

Earlier this month was the 11th anniversary of Interbasket, a website I founded as an outlet to my then-growing interest in international basketball. Over the years, the website and forum grew organically: from dozens of visitors, to hundreds, and ultimately to tens of thousands of visitors a month (sometimes more). In the early days, I put a lot of time and work promoting the site, so I can’t say that I am entirely surprised by its trajectory. Still, there are times, even after a decade, when I am pleasantly surprised and grateful of what the site gives back to me.

Up Close at USA Basketball

Having applied and been approved for international basketball tournaments in the past, having a media credential wasn’t anything new for Interbasket. However, when I found that one of my site’s contributors obtained a USA Basketball credential for us both I couldn’t help but get excited. After all these years as a basketball junkie, I couldn’t help but be geeked out to see 16 of the NBA’s best play in Madison Square Garden.

It was hard for me to believe, but the experience actually exceeded my expectations. Despite being there as part of the media, this was the ultimate fan’s experience and I couldn’t help but revert into my even-more-basketball-obsessed 14-year self. Half of me was gushing like a teen and the other half was entirely grateful to the small website I hard-coded back in the day before WordPress and Joomla democratized whipping up websites that allowed me a life experience that I’ll never forget.

The Visual Emotions of a 14-Year Old Fanboy

With my media access pass dangling from my neck, I walked past dozens of security guards that night unimpeded, each time expected to be stopped. I strolled onto the court, into the media interview room, the pregame shoot around, slid into my court side seat, and followed the signs to the media access with much larger network media after the game. As mentioned, I’ve been in the bball website game for more than a decade, so I knew I was supposed to be a lot less awestruck, but I couldn’t help reconcile the screaming fanboy in me at times:

Getting there early, I was able to watch James Harden and Kyrie Irving do some pre-game shooting.

I interrupted a conversation between former Houston Rocket teammates Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia so I could get a photo with both of them.

Me and Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia

And that was just the appetizer. During the game, I had a courtside seat, like folding chair on the actual court, about ten feet away from Team USA’s bench. It was unreal to be so close to action.

A couple other highlights: John Calipari moseyed in a few minutes late and sat next to me. I stole a USA basketball towel. After the game, I was in the media access room up close and personal with Klay Thompson, Rudy Gay, Kenneth Faried, John Boeheim, Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver, and Tom Thibodeau.

And DeMar DeRozan.

DeMar Derozan trying to get Rudy Gay's attention

A good friend of mine has always encouraged me to do more with Interbasket and I knew that I wasn’t doing as much as I could, but not until my USA basketball experience did I fully realize just how much I was missing out on.

› tags: basketball / Chandler Parsons / Francisco Garcia / John Calipari / Klay Thompson / Madison Square Garden / Rudy Gay / Team USA /

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