Column: Line Drives — Experience felt out of place

[This is my column in the March 6 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Most people go to sporting events to see their favorite teams or players.

I go for the same reason, but I enjoy getting to experience new venues and get the feeling for different atmospheres too.

I may also go just to watch a handful of specific players I may not get the opportunity to see again.

That was why I went to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday to watch the Indiana Pacers host the Golden State Warriors.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been to Banker’s Life. I went to the fieldhouse a couple weeks ago to cover Jay County High School senior Eric Hemmelgarn at the wrestling state finals.

But it was the first time I had been there for a Pacers game.

I had toyed with the idea of going for a couple days, but couldn’t pull the trigger on buying a ticket until I found one on StubHub for $15.

Plus, I wanted the opportunity to see one of the better young shooters in the game, Stephen Curry, and his teammate Draymond Green, a former Michigan State standout and a native of my hometown.

Those two alone, not the Pacers, were the main reason why I wanted to go to the game. As a Michigan native, I was a very casual Detroit Pistons fan when they won the title in 2004, and I’m still bitter over the infamous “Malice at the Palace.” So, supporting the Pacers is very low on my to-do list.

When I got up to my seat — Section 223, Row 13, Seat 6 — I came to the realization exactly how high the seats are. I had been in the nosebleed seats of The Palace of Auburn Hills nearly a decade ago, and I don’t remember being as far away from the court as I was Tuesday. But given the fact I felt the action was miles from me, it was still a great view. I could see the entire court, except for the times the guy in front of me decided to stand up.

During a break in the second-quarter action, I reached for my phone to snap a picture to post to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, only to find I left my lifeline in my car.

Without a way to document my attendance at the game — which turned out to be a thriller, as the Pacers came back from two double-digit deficits only to lose on a last-second shot — I was more inclined to actually pay attention to the action on the hardwood.

The hardest part about going to games without supporting either team is it makes me feel like I’m an emotionless robot.

When the Pacers hit a big bucket, the crowd went wild. When Roy Hibbert blocked a shot and later Paul George slammed home a breakaway dunk, fans jumped up with joy. When the Pacers needed a big defensive stop and the High Octane Drumline led a chorus of “DE-FENSE” chants, I was on my feet too, only because the guy with a big head in front of me was standing again.

Most of the time, I just sat there without expressing any excitement or disappointment over what was happening on the court.

Did I feel out of place? Of course.

Especially when Green hit a couple big shots and grabbed a few boards and I found myself clapping in support of him, not necessarily the Warriors.

In the end, I didn’t care who won the game. I just wanted to see a good professional basketball game. It was something I hadn’t had the desire to do in nearly 10 years because I thought pro basketball players were a bunch of crybabies.

But the Pacers and Warriors proved otherwise.


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