So today I went to Jamal Crawford's Seattle Pro Am on a whim because I saw Memphis Grizzly Quincy Pondexter post that he was gonna be playing. It cost $5 for three games and several NBA players would be there, so why not?
The first game was somewhat uneventful, though Dorell Wright played well. There was this one kid Dejounte "Baby Boy" Murray who was really impressive. Dude was scrawny but finished through contact at the rim really well.
The second game was where things got awesome. One team had Jamal Crawford and Dorell Wright (again!) and the other had Isaiah Thomas. It was insane. Jamal Crawford is a fucking spider on the court, probably with limbs we can't even see. He had plenty of rainbow threes and yes, even a patented four-point play. Isaiah Thomas was absolutely turned up. Dude was pulling crossover layups, Eurostep, and crossover step-back fadeaways.
It came down to the wire with Crawford and Thomas trading clutch baskets until it was 121 to 120 with Crawford having the chance to win the game. He goes for a three while trying to draw a foul and misses the shot but gets the foul with 0.9 seconds left. Isaiah loses it. Dude starts yelling at the referees and pulls off his jersey and shoes and storms off the court. So Jamal goes to the line to shoot his free throws. Clanks the first one off the front rim. Lines up again and swishes the second to tie the game. He gets the ball back, takes a couple dribbles...and throws the ball against the backboard to intentionally force overtime. Total and utter class.
After a couple minutes, Isaiah returns to the court, fully clothed, to applause. Crawford greets him with a smile and a hug, and Thomas goes over to the scorers table to apologize over the microphone for his outburst. Thomas' team wins overtime and thus the game. Crawford put the game back on the line after seeing the outburst instead of winning on free throws. He's always been the only Clipper I liked, and he has seriously reinforced that now.
Finally it's Game 3, the one I came for. I believed that Nate Robinson would be playing (short man pride) along with Quincy. Unfortunately not...but who does step on the court but Beno fuckin' positivity and sunshine Udrih, new Memphis fan favorite. Further, I see on Twitter that Robert Pera, billionaire engineer and owner of the Grizzlies, is in attendance and I see him up in the stands across the court.
Quincy goes nuts. I don't know what his final score was, but it was over 48 points. Dude came on the court planning to generate all the highlight plays: dunks, crossovers, turnovers as the result of dribbling into packs of defenders. No matter, he stays aggressive throughout the game and at one point drilled 5 consecutive threes. I cannot wait to see him come back for the Grizzlies this season.
Beno summoned his inner Magic Johnson. Dude was throwing no look passes, bounces through traffic, assisting like he worked for State Farm. While he distributed more than Quincy, he still looked great with frequent slashes into the paint, reverse layups, triples, and the occasional turnover. Ultimately Quincy's team would prevail.
After going to the bathroom I sat on the steps into the Pavilion to wait for my Uber to take me home. Plenty of people pass by, including some of the amateur players. Eventually I look over and who is it but the jacked billionaire owner of the Memphis Grizzlies Robert Pera with some people. Well, I'm no fanboy and I don't want to bother him to ask for a picture since I know he's somewhat private.
Once my Uber arrives I get up, but before I leave I say something like, "Mr. Pera? Awesome work so far man, keep it up." (After some past doubts I do actually believe this.) He looks up and actually says hi and offers his hand! We shake and he asks if I'm a fan, if I'm from Memphis, what I do in Seattle, all of that. He calls over to Quincy (unfortunately Beno had run off with his buddy Spencer Hawes, who also played well) to say "Hey Quincy, this is RaganSmash from Twitter. He's a fan of the team."
Dude fucking remembered me from Twitter. I shit you not.
I told Quincy to come back stronger than ever, but he seemed distracted with calling an Uber of his own. I talked to Pera a little longer but at this point I was holding up my Uber and, to be honest, I was actually starting to stammer while talking to the billionaire engineer whose technology platform I respect immensely. In truth I was more starstruck by him than by Quincy, probably partially because he actually had an idea of who I was and asked about me.
So there you have it. If you have the chance to see a Pro Am with basketball players you love for $5, DO IT. You might see some up-and-coming players, ridiculous pickup basketball full of clutch shots, overtime, and passionate outbursts, meet a player on your favorite team, meet your favorite team's owner, or all of the above.
Oh and I got an awesome haircut after. Best. Day. Ever.