We showed up at the main entrance around 5:30 and were let inside a few minutes later. There were a few outside attractions like guys on stilts with hoops over their heads, but it was pretty lame. We were among the first fans inside so we got a rally towel and a magnetic schedule from the Wiz dancers. Our seats were really good - midway up in the corner of the first level. No sightline issues, etc. With an hour before tipoff, some players were warming up so we sat in the first row of the first level to see how easy these guys make basketball seem. My goal was to meet Steve Francis and Terence Morris since they were my neighbors at MD, etc. Morris was shooting around on the other side of the baseline so I thought I wouldn't have a chance. Then, he walked all the way over to say hi to these two people and their son (who was wearing a MD Morris jersey). Terence was about 10 seats from me when I quickly went over to him and said hi.
Instead of the typical, "thanks for playing hard at MD and getting us to our first final four," I told him I had lived directly above him at our off-campus apartments at MD. After I told him my apt. number, he said, "oh yeah, you were right above us." I sounded stalkerish by telling him I knew their apt. number, but it didn't phase him. I mentioned I saw Lonny Baxter and Drew Nicholas there as well after he moved out. Then we posed for a picture during which I was one step above him. Which means I look like I'm 6'7" b/c he's 6'10", instead of the 7-inch height difference we really have. We shook hands and he was off for some more shooting.
The player intros were cool, this being the home opener, and the game moved quickly despite poor shooting on both sides and some especially bad shot selection by the Bullets. Terence still played passively on the outside and took the mid-range baseline shot he took at MD, but he wasn't consistently making them tonight. Steve played well and still moves faster than anyone on the court...when he wants to. He jumps out of the building and showed it on a rebound and a goaltended-block during the game. Dwight Howard looked really good and had a nice dunk after getting a rebound. Antonio Daniels' ankle-roll looked really bad. Unfortunately, Francis missed 2 free throws with under a minute to play that would have cut the lead to 2.
Of the whole night, my biggest complaint is the section discrimination we faced whenever prizes were given out. I know the seats were great, etc., but that doesn't mean we shouldn't get a shot at t-shirts or thunderstix (not that I'd ever use a pair). Every slingshot t-shirt toss went everywhere but us. When thunderstix were dropped from the catwalk by parachute, only one came in the entire section, while everyone else got at least 20 drops. Where was the love? It would've been nice if music wasn't played every possession either. Heaven forbid we hear their shoes squeak. The legroom was a problem upon my first sitting, but once I made sure I was firmly in the seat. It wasn't too bad outside of the cupholders digging into my shins on occasion.
The fans around us weren't too annoying except for 3 things: 1. The guy behind me spilled a few drops of beer trying to get to his seat. It wasn't much, he apologized, so no hard feelings, but come on, no party fouls are ever truly forgiven. 2. Behind us were 4 guys, 2 of which brought their girlfriends. While one girl actually was into the game, the other girl spent most of the time on her cell talking about anything except the game. I don't want to hear about you and your girlfriends' plans for Sunday brunch. 3. After Dwight Howard airballed his 2nd shot, some idiot said, "and that's why you need college." I couldn't believe he was serious. Howard is a solid player who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds as a rookie last year and put up 17 and 11 this game.
Overall it was a good time, esp. when you get free tix, b/c I would never pay their face value to see a regular-season NBA game. Metro's Chinatown station was very empty as we exited the game with 10 seconds left and we were home 25 minutes later.