So, yes, I've been scarce in these parts since Christmas. That's because I've been in Washington D.C. for my annual winter break excursion, taking in as many college and pro sporting events that I can handle. In the meantime I created quite a stir on YouTube (keep reading...).
I didn't make it to a game until New Years Day (having arrived in D.C. late in the afternoon on the 25th). I kicked off 2009 with a crazy 7-4 win by the Washington Capitals over the Tampa Bay Lightning. My Caps played a little too loose against one of the worst teams in the NHL, but I got to see a win and an Alex Ovechkin goal (in the final 1:40) and was able to see just how much the Capitals fan base has grown in the past couple seasons. It was an electrifying atmosphere at the Verizon Center that night.
The following night I headed over to American University for a mid-major basketball contest against Brown. Patriot vs. Ivy. The Bender Arena, home of the Eagles, is quaint and a nice, clean place to watch a game. For $13 I got tickets right at center court, so it's certainly affordable. The concessions are lacking to say the least. Order popcorn and they pop a store-bought Orville Redenbacher bag and served to you as-is. Nachos consist of a few chips on a paper plate with cheese lumped on the side. There is no merchandise kiosk to be found and the program is a two-page folder. Cheap production values aside, it was fun to watch a quality team like American, who may follow up their 15th seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament with another berth this year.
The following day I decided to take in not one, but two college contests. I headed up to the Verizon Center again, this time to catch Georgetown take on Pitt. All I could manage was nosebleed seats for this one, but it was still an entertaining experience and the place was packed! I was surrounded by Pitt fans, and, needless to say, they were the ones going home happy after Gtown folded and Pitt cruised later in the second half. Pitt is now ranked #1 overall and they certainly looked the part.
I didn't have much time to let that game soak in before heading to College Park, where Maryland was taking on Charlotte at the Comcast Center, a beautiful new facility on the campus itself. I managed to also see the old Cole Fieldhouse (where the basketball team used to play) and the football field on my way to the arena. As for the game itself, Charlotte played great, leading for the first 25 minutes, before predictably imploding during a 16-0 Maryland run midway through the final half. Terps won by 10.
After four games and four blowouts, I didn't have much hope when I saw the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards the next day. The Cavs came in with one of the NBA's best records while the Wizards were sleepwalking to one of the worst. Either way, I had awesome seats (six rows back behind the Cleveland bench) and got to see LeBron James play for the second time in person (saw him play the Wizards in his rookie year).
What I didn't expect was a close contest. The Wizards should have closed the door on Cleveland early (nursing a 16-point lead early in the fourth), but, of course, they let LeBron and the Cavs get back. I filmed most of the action in the final minute, capturing Antawn Jamison's winning shot with 10 seconds left. I kept filming as the Cavs got the ball to LeBron in the waning seconds. LeBron dribbled past Caron Butler, sinking his usual buzzer beating layup and possibly drawing a foul on the play. However, it was all waved off by the referee who ruled a travel.
LeBron later disputed the call, citing a crab dribble manuever that he claims is his trademark move. This was featured on ESPN SportsCenter and then later on First Take the following morning. Meanwhile I compiled my video and uploaded it to Youtube (you can view it here). In the hours that followed, the video was picked up by the Washington Post's D.C. Sports bog (here) and Basketbawful (here) as well as numerous other venues including a heated forum on Inside Hoops (here) and Eurobasket (here). As of this writing, the video is the No. 1 ranked sports video of the day (and most discussed sports video of the day) and the No. 9 ranked video for the day in all of Youtube. With LeBron James, we are all witnesses, and, unfortunately for him, I witnessed his trademark travel.
For a gallery of some pictures I took, click below...