We take the Metro to the game. Apparently, when you put a 20-dollar bill into the farecard machine, it gives you all your change in coins. So that’s convenient.
We get to the stadium without any trouble and approach the ticket booth. The lady behind the counter takes one look at us and asks, “The cheapest tickets available?” Impressive.
I say yes, but preferably around midcourt, which causes the lady and the woman behind her to erupt in laughter. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m glad I’m amusing. In addition to our tickets, we each receive a Chik-fil-A coupon.
After paying, we pass through security and enter the stadium. We spot a guy walking around with a large box and a Chik-fil-A hat, so we wave him down. After all, nothing’s more appealing than lukewarm chicken sandwiches. He won’t accept our Chik-fil-A coupons. Luckily, I have a pocketful of coins, so full price is not an issue.
We get to our seats, which are literally in the highest row of the highest deck in the stadium. The weird thing is, from up here, the players on the court look exactly like they do from the camera angle on TV. It’s so similar that from time to time I forget I’m watching human beings who are inside the same building as I am.
While this is interesting, it’s also a little disappointing. Why spend money to see something that appears no different than it does on TV? Fortunately, I begin to notice subtle differences.
The first comes when Goran Dragic and John Wall get tangled up and tumble to the floor in the first quarter. They look kind of like I do when I trip going up the stairs to our seats, twice. Unlike me, however, they each decide to lay on the floor grimacing for a few seconds, before allowing their teammates to pull them off the ground. This seems normal on TV. In person, it comes across a bit dramatic. Well, Dragic looks dramatic; Wall got hammered.
The Suns make a few nice plays, and their bench jumps up and down with excitement. It’s weird to see players so animated when it feels like nobody in the stadium is paying close enough attention to know that the Suns did something good.
Then there are the jump shots. They make it look effortless. How the hell do they keep getting their shots off so quickly? Why doesn’t it clank off the rim more often?
The play that surprises me the most, though: an overhead pass by Gortat all the way downcourt on a fast break. The speed and accuracy with which he throws the ball across that distance is breathtaking.
In addition to the game, I get to witness the entertainment between breaks in the action. My personal favorite occurs after the first quarter. The big screen informs us that Air G-Wiz and Slap will be performing. The Wizards and Capitals mascots, in inflatable suits, execute a carefully choreographed dance. It is surprisingly enjoyable to watch.
The rest of the non-basketball entertainment fails to live up to the bar set by G-Wiz and Slap. I pick the donut in the Dunkin Donut race. Billy takes the iced coffee once it is clear it already has a lead. The donut comes from behind to win, which I gloat about for a few seconds before realizing I might be a little over competitive. Billy later claims he would have taken the donut if I hadn’t already picked it.
The “Wizards Girls” dress in very little clothing and perform seductive dances throughout the game. I feel a little uncomfortable because a large part of the audience consists of dads with their children.
I start focusing on the game in the second half. The Wizards fall behind by 25. A few fans boo halfheartedly. But then the tee shirt toss begins, and everyone forgets about the game. People lose their minds over the chance to catch a tee shirt that is three sizes too big. For the first time the whole night, fans are standing up and screaming.
Back to the action. The Wizards rally and cut the deficit to three. It feels like this happens in five minutes. The crowd is finally into the game, belting creative chants like DE-FENSE and DE-FENSE.
John Wall plays out of his mind. He seems to be hitting a three or driving to the basket for dunks and layups on every drive. The coolest moment by far: Wall lets the ball roll all the way up the court on an inbounds pass, picks it up at the three point line, and in a split second is at the hoop for an easy layup. I’m left standing up without realizing how I got there.
Unfortunately, the rally falls short, and the Wizards lose by six. Fans begin to trickle out of the stadium and back onto the Metro. At least the donut won.