By Abe Chong
Last week the Suns were in town playing consecutive games against the Clippers and Lakers, and I happened to be taking a break at work and taking a stroll around the LA Live plaza, which is right next to the Staples Center. Steve Nash pops out of a restaurant with a girl right in front of me. At first it took me a second recognize the two-time MVP, but I was able to utter “Steve Nash” to myself in confirmation before they got within earshot.
It was 2:30 in the afternoon, absolutely nobody was around, the girl seemed really chill, and I was face-to-face with supposedly one of the nicest guys in the NBA. What do you think I did?
Working in the same building as ESPN710 and right next to the Staples Center has its pros and cons. Con: Every time there’s a Laker home game I’m surrounded by a sea of purple and gold jerseys when I leave the office. Pros: I see a good amount of NBA players, and even NBA media persons.
I saw Carl Landry in Sacramento Kings practice tee and warmups casually strolling LA Live. Nobody seemed to know who he was, but I did. The mom in the cubicle next to mine reported to me that while at lunch with coworkers that were NBA fans, she had seen “Balthazar? You know, the Lakers player from Spain?” Pretty gnarly misconstruction of the name Pau Gasol. On the Girls-Mispronouncing-Player-Names scale, this was a solid eight.
I’ve taken the elevator with ESPN morning radio host Colin Cowherd before, and it took every ounce of self-restraint to not blurt out “Seriously? John Wall’s gonna suck JUST because he does the Dougie?”
I saw ESPN NBA analyst J.A. Adande in the lobby, and since I’m a big fan of his work, I really wanted to say something. After I did a double-take, I approached and said, “J.A. Adande? I’m a big fan.” He said “Thanks” and walked off into the elevator. Now I know how ugly rock groupies felt after getting denied backstage entry. But I figured he was probably late for a meeting or something. At least that’s what I told myself when I couldn’t live up to my Adande boycott.
The ultimate was the NBA All-Star Game at Staples Center this year. The whole week I saw players, analysts and groupies galore. One thing I’ll give credit to NBA groupies for: rain or shine, little clothing will be worn. It was freezing (for LA) that weekend, with drizzle, and girls would be out walking in leather booty shorts and fishnet stockings. Just all kinds of awesome.
It was during All-Star week that I saw Chris Bosh inside the J.W. Marriott at the plaza. There were other NBA players in there, chatting gregariously with media and other players. Not CB4. Iced-out shades, ginormous earmuff/earphones and even ginormous-er security. Didn’t look at anyone, didn’t take pictures, went straight to the elevator and disappeared. Everything about that scene seemed so…douchey. Maybe I’m just bitter that I’m not cool enough to wear sunglasses indoors.
So did I say anything when I saw Steve Nash besides the words “Steve Nash” to myself? Nope. But the more that I think about it, it probably was a perfect moment to say hello, I worship you, and I used to live close to Santa Clara University, where you balled fools up all the time.
I guess there really aren’t any written rules to approaching NBA persons, just common sense and what you hear. Like I’ve heard Michael Jordan will eat your babies if you approach him. And who knows what Ron Artest would do if you said something to him.
Last little tidbit from All-Star Week: My cubicle mom-neighbor told me she had seen Jay-Z. I freaked out, because it’s freaking Jay-Z. She told me she was pretty sure it was him, even though he was really far away, because she saw a black guy, with a hat, sunglasses and headphones. I’m convinced that she would have made a great cop.