It's been awhile since I've done one of these, so I figured it would serve as a great exercise to stimulate the brain at 8 a.m. in preparation for another ridiculous day. Here's a quick break from LeBron to catch up on everything else...
The beauty of New Orleans and Bourbon Street is that it's, well, New Orleans and Bourbon Street. All day, every day. The Cavs played the Hornets on the 19th, so a couple of us went to a great restaurant off Bourbon Street for lunch.
On the way there, I passed a leprechaun with a pot of gold. Seriously.
On the way back, I stepped over a man who was passed out in the road. At 1 p.m.
There's a great line from the movie Beautiful Girls, which if you haven't seen, you now have something to do after LeBron leaves town. Tommy and Kev are plowing Darian's driveway early one morning when she came out to meet them with coffee.
Kev: "No Sambuca today, Darian?"
Darian: "It's five o'clock in the morning."
Kev: "Does that make it too late or too early?"
That's exactly what I thought when I stepped over the unconscious man in the early afternoon. Was it a late night or a really early morning? Doesn't really matter. It's New Orleans.
On the flight from New Orleans to San Antonio, I was sitting next to a girl who was a freshman in high school. She was sitting next to her grandmother and extremely fidgety. I chalked it up to being a 15-year-old girl, but then she started talking to me. Playing along with the small talk, I asked her why she was going to San Antonio.
"To meet my biological father for the first time," she said.
Not exactly an answer I was expecting or prepared for. The girl's mother had found the father on Facebook a few months back. She asked if he wanted to be part of her life. He said yes. The mother had since remarried and her new husband adopted the girl when she was so little, she didn't have any idea the real story. She just found out a few weeks ago.
The two spent hours on the computer video chatting, texting and talking. They got all the tears and hard questions like "Why?" out of the way so the reunion could be a celebration. And it was. I followed the pretty girl and her grandmother down to baggage claim, where this big burly man picked her up and squeezed her like a man should hug his 15-year-old daughter when meeting her for the first time. And apparently they didn't get rid of all the tears on the computer, because I saw a few more slip out of all of them.
I've already discovered that the travel for an NBA beat can be a real grind, filled with 4 a.m. wakeup calls and 6 a.m. flights. But that was one of those flights I'll remember for awhile.
I'll remember the trip to Indianapolis on Nov. 23, too, but for far different reasons. I tried to steal an extra night at home and flew out the morning of the game. But in order to get to shootaround in time, I had to catch the first flight out, at 5:45 a.m., and connect in Chicago. The night before the flight, morning availability was set. Byron Scott and the players were available at 9:45. My flight landed at 9:30 and Conseco Fieldhouse is a good 20-minute cab ride from the airport. This was going to be tight.
Plain Dealer writer Mary Schmitt Boyer was also on my flight. We moved quickly to the cab upon landing and hustled to the arena, texting Cavs PR man Garin Narain along the way updating him on where we were. He was trying to stall Byron for us.
When we got to the arena, this security woman came running out to tell us we can't park on that side of the road, that it was dangerous because of traffic. No worries, we told her. That light bar on the roof meant it was a cab. We weren't parking, we were simply getting out. And we were late.
She was also the woman who had to check our bags, which is standard procedure upon entering all arenas. But when we tried entering, even with our NBA-issued credentials hanging around our necks, we were told we'd have to wait for clearance. Then another woman came over to join us while Garin decided to just come up the elevator to get us. Now we were REALLY late.
Garin tried explaining to both women who he was and that he was with the Cavaliers. And that we were who we said we were. And that we had NBA-issued credentials around our necks and our bags had been checked. Wasn't good enough. We needed even more clearance. It was stunning.
On the ride to the arena, the cabbie told us the city was already freaking out over hosting the Super Bowl in 2012. Apparently those Super Bowl security measures are already in place.
When the second supervisor started getting a little ridiculous, commanding us not to step on the elevator and watching us like a couple of 3-year-olds standing next to a cookie jar, I set my roller bag against the wall. OK, Mary says I threw it into the wall. Semantics. Either way, the John Candy/Wally World security woman threatened to have us removed from the building, at which point my blood pressure doubled.
I can't remember exactly what I said, but when she said she was "just doing her job," I politely countered with something along the lines of how crappy she is at her job, and that I'd like her to quickly improve her productivity so that I could then do my job.
Clearance finally came in the form of some third guy that walked down and said "OK" and we were allowed to go. The Pacers media relations staff apologized for the Gestapos, and ultimately it wasn't a big deal. But anyone planning to do illegal things to the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, beware: The two security hounds are watching.
Now.... on to LeBron.