Rohan kindly got me set up with press credentials to go to the Jam Session this weekend. The Jam Session is the NBA's fanzone, where you can walk around a huge area, this time the Morial Convention Center, and experience all sorts of events for the fans. There are, of course, vendors and sponsors, but there are dozens of interactive activities to dazzle the basketball fan. Some of them are pretty high tech, and all of them are at least somewhat fun.
There are autograph signings with players and activities with players and former players. I was able to get pretty close to Dwight Howard, Ben McLemore and Bruce Bowen. Considering how many times Bowen had caused me pain during important games, it was hard not to 'say something'. I managed to keep my cool. I also caught a live interview with Dwayne Wade.
There was also a full size court featuring the celebrity game, the D League All Star Game and the practices, which were open to the public.
He was posing. He never took a shot.
After the practice, they had a media circus behind the stands where the reporters could ask questions. Scott Brooks and I went to the same Jr College in California and I almost threw in a question, but decided I didn't want to get kicked out. It did allow me to take some up close and personal shots of some of the players. These were taken with a telephoto lens at about 4 feet distance with a very small window between reporters. Please pardon my artsy working with them.
I went with some older friends and the wife. The overall experience was one that really gave the impression the NBA was serious about giving back to the fans. You had to buy tickets, but if you're a basketball fan, it was money well spent. When we left, we all felt like we had bonded with the league and sport. It was a really fun time.