I have to admit that I never thought it would ever work out; Robyn’s cousin Lang Galloway was going to try to get us tickets for the New York Knicks vs Milwaukee Bucks Basketball game at the O2 in London.
I didn’t think it would ever work out because it wasn’t just any game; this was Major League Basketball and absolutely every American in London was going to want to be there. The tickets had sold out months ago…we know, we’d tried to find some.
And neither of us are feeling very lucky at the moment.
Anyway, we went to the Dome on a freezing night, cold and windy and while we were waiting, we walked down to the Thames to look at the view. It was depressing, the wind ripped into us. It was dark and cold.
I felt quite ill and wasn’t looking forward to climbing up to a seat up in the roof, somewhere near where the spotlights are. And I’m scared of heights!
We queued up and waited to be told to ‘go away’. All around us were a mixture of arrogant journalists, TV people and fashionable hangers-on waiting for their tickets.
We could not believe our eyes! There were tickets for us!
The journey in was like a dream; the NBA organised a group of people to cheer everyone (prepared to run the gauntlet) as they came into the foyer. We did it twice!
Then we had another long queue, then security, then up an escalator and then we were in the arena.
You know what it’s like in an arena– we came out about halfway up the seating, looking down onto the floodlight court far below. Any sporting event has that amazing buzz of excitement about it.
It wouldn’t have been the same for me if they hadn’t had the big display (which Robyn told me is called the Jumbotron).
We had no idea where we were going…so we asked.
We headed down the steps and every time we came to anyone we asked again and they pointed further down. We couldn’t believe it as we got down to the floor of the court itself.
We were ringside! Actually we were just behind The Knicks themselves.
Just behind the water carriers.
We were like a couple of kids, full of the wonder of it all. Watching the media and all the fashionable people in the good seats.
This was the hottest pair of tickets in town, let me tell you.
While we were waiting, the jumbotron picked out the famous people from the crowd. Most of Arsenal Football club were there, including the great Thierry Henri from the past and Per Mertersacker from the current team. Cesc Fabregas was there from Chelsea. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
There were a lot of people who had brought entourages with them. There were body guards.
It was the only place to be.
There was a parade of famous players from the past – I couldn’t make them out but Robyn told me that Hakeem was there, John Starks, Kareem and here is Dkembe Motombo himself;
There were cheer leaders and acrobats. There were Pom-Poms. There were hotdogs and beer. People fired free gifts into the crowd from gas-fired guns. There was an organ playing, confetti flying and dancing mascots;
And then there were the two of us, waiting soberly, respectably, quietly and very sensibly for Lang Galloway to come out.
We saw everything; all the building excitement of the practise session, the thrill of the game.
The Knicks came to London without a hope – they are on a long, long losing run. Lang got called up a week or two ago – his first game was last week. How lucky were we to be there – it was just by chance he was in London tonight.
I’m biased, of course, but I watched the practise very carefully. Most of The Knicks missed their shots…not a great sign for the game but Lang got all but one of his shots….in the basket.
Then the game was off with all the excitement and razzamatazz you would expect from the Major league.
Within about 2 minutes, The Knicks were 6 points down….I had no idea what was going on and the Coach called a ‘Time-Out’.
We were right there!
Right in the middle of the action, watching the individual water bottles being filled and passed out, the Gatorade, the towels being grabbed. We could see the coach's strategy board. I have to say that Head Coach Derek Fisher gave a very restrained team talk - I think Robyn would have given them a real roasting if she'd had a chance!
We watched as Lang had to be treated by the Doctor;
That happened twice. It was a tough game and he was always in the thick of it while he was playing. He scored 5 points and at least three assists that I counted, maybe more.
All the way through, The Bucks kept a lead that was about 20 points plus. It was tough going. Towards the end, they started to wobble. As you can see from the scoreboard, it ended up at 95-79….The Knicks had begun to pull it back.
If I had a criticism it was that while I may not be an expert on the game, even I could see how good Lang was but because he was new to the team he wasn’t yet in a position to get the support he needed.
He is definitely going all the way.
Then suddenly it was all over; where did the whole evening go?
At halftime, they played Frank Sinatra singing about a foggy London Town. It was very special indeed.
And I just love the Jumbotron;
As the teams were leaving Lang came over to see Robyn, which was just the nicest thing to do…it was very emotional;
We were both really touched that we’d been given a once in a lifetime chance to see something really exciting and to be ringside…just the greatest experience ever.
It was awesome!
And we even managed to get hold of a foam hand!
Thanks Lang, we’ll never forget that night.
(a don’t stop till you drop production)
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Just for the record, in two years of blogging, this is the first time I have used the word ‘awesome’.Click on any picture for a slideshow and a bit better quality.