Part 2: What it is Like to Sit Courtside at a Lakers Game

by Conor on January 6, 2010

This the second part of a 2-part article recapping my experience watching the Lakers Vs. Kings game on Friday, January 1, 2010. Sitting courtside I was witness to Kobe’s game winning 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Lakers first 20+ point comeback since 2006.

Sitting courtside might be worth every penny of those couple thousand dollar seats. I must thank my boss for taking me to this game. I would not have spent that money on my own, at least not prior to this experience.

While Jack Nicholson and others may like to make a fashionably late entrance to their courtside seats, my boss disagrees and so do I. We showed up an hour early to the game and watched the guys shoot around and talked shop with the ushers and ballboys. It is well worth the experience to see who is out there pregame and feed them a few balls that bounce off in your direction.

Courtside Conor

Our padded seats were about as good as you can get. Sitting between the Lakers bench and the scorers table, we had a better view of the court than Phil Jackson and yet still felt included in the Lakers huddles during timeouts. (You can see me on ht left of this picture in the grey sweater.)  Two co-workers of ours sat across the court from us and while they probably had fewer distractions in front of them (ie. the ballboys were constantly chasing down towels or warmups during substitutions), I feel they probably missed out on a lot of dialogue that can be overheard closer to the bench.

The most noticeable aspect to the game from that close was the amount of complaining that goes on to the refs. I’ve played in hundreds of games, seen thousands on TV, and sat 5-7 rows back for hundreds more, but I never would have thought that so much complaining went on from every single player. And I mean EVERY single player. My boss said that Ron Artest actually is one of the best at not complaining (he was injured this game), but everyone else constantly had the refs ear.

The refs have an incredible job of managing overpaid egos and phsycoligically handling severely biased personalities. Even when guys did get a call or agreed with a ref on a call, they were taunting the refs with sarcastic “good call” quips as if the refs could not comprehend their sarcastic tone. I will end my rant about the complaining, but it must be clearly mentioned how blatant it is when you can hear it non-stop throughout the game.

The extra perks of courtside seats at the Staples Center are nice, but nothing spectacular. There is a dedicated waiter who will take your menu orders off the standard menu. We happened to be there on “Free Friday’s”, which meant free food for those expensive seats. Yippee.  The beers still cost $9.

There is a room out the visitors team tunnel that has a bar and a couple of tv’s. Again, nothing lavish, although it is a good place to mingle and network with other courtsiders. I did not recognize anyone in there that game, but I imagine it can become a fairly popular spot.

Other than a halftime stat sheet and extra legroom, there were not many more seat perks than that.

Looking at, hearing, and feeling the game from that standpoint is something different entirely, however. The difference in size and strength of NBA players versus NCAA players is extremely more noticeable so close up. Sitting 20 rows up I often think, “Man, I bet I could have been able to hold my own with those guys.” But then, sitting amongst them, Ron Artest or Lamar Odom walks by and I realize that their shoulders are the size of my entire chest.

These guys are massive and powerful, lightning quick with insane leaping ability, and yet completely smooth and under control. I know this, of course, but seeing it happen within 5 feet of your face is all the more convincing.  Especially when one of them comes diving into the crowd or is charging toward you like a bull.

Previously, I thought it was a waste to spend the money on a seat like that versus the much cheaper alternatives. I have since changed my mind. Someday soon, I will actually put my own money down for that experience again. It was truly worth every penny.

(Below, again, I am in the grey shirt during Kobe’s interview at the 4-minute mark)


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

J. Shuttlesworth January 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

So…

What you’re saying is, you pretty much have the same experience at the Lakers game sitting court side as Adam Morrison does for the games, except for you don’t have to work nearly as hard and you aren’t just stoned out of your mind because you took two bingers before warm ups?

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Conor January 7, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Yup, couldn’t have put it better myself :)

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Gils_Keloids January 13, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Sorry for asking such a common question, but what kind of talk went on between the players and their defenders? Did they engage in trash talk, or was it mostly just complaining to the refs, as you mention?

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Conor January 14, 2010 at 1:30 am

The talk between the players was actually more limited than I would have expected. I know there is definitely trash talk that goes on during some games, but I did not notice much at all. There were definitely looks given and retaliatory elbows or hand checks, but the talk between players seemed to be kept to a minimum.

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