Travel Update: one SLAM editor is now in New Orleans, rookie game rocking

by February 15, 2008

By Ben Osborne
Starting this in the back of a cab, 6:45 local time. Unhelpful NBA press official told me there was no way I could get a credential unless I was in the credential office in 15 minutes when they shut for the night (even tho rookie-sophomore won’t tip off til 8:15). Thanks NBA! Oh, and there’s no way I’m getting to the hotel in a hurry since the traffic is horrible. My driver—speaking Creole on his cell phone, I believe?—is telling me that the traffic is “worse than Mardi Gras.” Sweet.
Traffic is SLOW. Pretty wild to be here. Cab radio is on the sports talk/870…guy has a phenomenal accent. Always nice to see the love for the League when it brings ASW to a new locale. The radio guys are talking about a potential Ben-Gordon-to-the-Hornets deal, which sounds good to me; he’s definitely more explosive than Mo Pete. They’re also talking about bringing in PJ Brown. Sounds kinda cool, too, like the fact that Byron Scott is coaching the West.

I briefly get online in the back of the cab, but only city-related sites. Thankfully one of them is (good all-star coverage there for those of you who are bored by and frustrated by SLAM’s slow start…,) home page of one of my favorite American newspapers (the Times-Picayune).

Okay, almost at the hotel…back in a few…

We love Aggrey, but this “microsite” is not exactly starting the way we wanted it too. Long story short: we didn’t have non-stops from NY because we slacked on booking tickets til about 10 days ago. Then I was on one res and Khalid/Sam/Lang were on the another because we have different return flights. So after the disaster that Sam detailed a little before, I got on a flight to Atlanta and then N.O. while they were put standby on a direct to N.O. (which they subsequently were shut out of and are now driving a rental car from Baton Rouge).

NOW I am in the lobby of the media hotel—checked in and showered, albeit aggravated that there is no wireless in the rooms here—and it is slowly sinking in that I’m finally here. I oddly saw Art Shell at the Atlanta airport but now the sightings are more vintage, random, NBA all-star style: Eric Snow buying a t-shirt, Eddie Johnson striding across the lobby, Frank “Italian Ice” Isola chopping it up with Ian “Birdman” Eagle, Phil Jasner being Phil Jasner…

I’m “watching” the rookie game just like y’all, as Charles Barkley is effusively (and justifiably) praising Al Horford and Brandon Roy. Reminds me of a column I wrote about this game more than a year ago…which Greg Oden’s injury has rendered somewhat obsolete. Pretty frustrated that I can’t be there, but we will hopefully have more productive days from here on out. As far as Aggrey and DJ Toney Blare, the former is at the DLeague skills challenge (because we thought we had the Rookie Game covered with us 4 and the DLeague needs love, too) and the latter I think is busy though he may be checking in later this weekend.

Lang just called from the rental car and made the evening’s agenda very clear: “get drunk and forget all this.” I feel him. Gonna post this and maybe a press release or two and then hopefully the rest of the guys will be here. Our goal tonight is the Jordan Brand party…and hopefully there will be a nice recap tomorrow.

C’mon rookies, make a game of this thing!