Links: NBA Finals Diary, Day 3

by June 09, 2007

by Lang Whitaker

I woke up early here in San Antonio, a little after 9:00 on Saturday morning. I’m not sure why. I think it’s because I’m getting old. I used to be able to sleep all day, every day. Then, without warning, about two months ago I started waking up around 9:00 a.m. nearly every morning. Which, let me tell you, really sucks.

It’s also Saturday, which means we’re on our second straight off day. It would probably be better if Game Two was tonight, but then I couldn’t spend an extra night in a wildly overpriced hotel room. And let’s be real here, that’s what all this is really about, right?

After yesterday’s practice, Ben and I hustled back to the hotel. I posted practice notes, then ran over to a nearby mall and grabbed some lunch. By 2:15, Ben and I were back on the road, heading over to The Quarry. Once it was decided that the Finals were going to be in San Antonio, we started researching golf courses in the area. A few of you readers even gave us advice. And the one course everyone seemed to like was The Quarry. Basically, it’s an old rock quarry that you can play golf down inside of. Remember how on The Flintstones, each episode began with Barney and Fred getting off of work at that rock Quarry? It was just like that, but with a golf course in it. And less dinosaurs. It’s really unique and it was all well-run, and I can’t say anything bad about it at all. I’d be more positive about it if I hadn’t finished just over 100 (Ben finished at 94). We had a great round out there.

The only down side was the weather. HOT! There were no trees down in that Quarry, there were no clouds in the sky, so it was kind of like playing golf inside a frying pan. We were using copious amounts of suntan lotion. (I bought some suntan stuff in the hotel gift shop before we left. They has SPF 4, SPF 8, or SPF 50. I went with 8, which, it turns out, wasn’t quite strong enough.)

Ben and I had discussed grabbing dinner after our round at The Quarry, but we were so cooked that we just went back to the hotel to regroup. An hour later we were freshened up and on our way to dinner. I’d suggested a big steak dinner, seeing how we were in Texas, so Ben and I ended up at some steak joint along the Riverwalk that was really good. We watched the Rangers game while we ate, which added to Texas-ness of everything.

After dinner we wandered along the Riverwalk (I suggested they change the name to Rivermaze) and stopped at a bar to visit a friend who works for ESPN. Ben and I had a beer and decided to walk over to the media hospitality party. All we knew was that it was in some place with the word “Palace” in the name and that it overlooked The Alamo. We walked over to The Alamo and kind of looked all around and noticed a bunch of people on the roof of a building. But we couldn’t find the entrance to the place. We walked all around and finally bumped into a few dudes from Sports Illustrated who were also lost. Finally, Ben figured it out and we got up on the roof and into the party. We stayed there the rest of the night.

It was cool to be able to look over the Alamo. I tried to get a few photos of it but they were all blurry and dark, like the Cavs’ chances in Game Two.

Got up this morning at 9:00 and wrote a little, then Ben and I rolled over to practice. This observation has not been confirmed and could be completely wrong, but it seems as though the media contingent covering these Finals is way down from previous years. In the past it was nearly impossible to get around and interview guys, but down here it’s been great — two days in a row I saw Larry Hughes doing one-on-one interviews. I’ve been told there will be more media in Cleveland because it’s easier to get to than San Antonio — for instance, there’s no direct flights from New York to San Antonio.

At today’s practice, I really wanted to go around to each player and just ask, “So, has anything changed in the last 24 hours?” But I didn’t. I did overhear Francisco Elson comparing Manu Ginobili to one of the characters in Over The Hedge. I haven’t seen the movie but I assume he was talking about a spunky chipmunk or something comparatively squirrely.

Robert Horry said all the talk about Kevin Durant being too skinny was bunk. “Sh*t, you don’t have to be strong to drive to the rack.” I know Horry has talked about wanting to go into coaching when his playing days are done, but he has to go into TV. He’s already better than three-fourths of the people on ESPN.

Tony Parker gamely fielded questions about his upcoming nuptials. “Eva is doing a great job of handling all the planning. I just have to show up. Hopefully she will say yes.” I wanted to ask him who was in charge of licking the envelopes, but I wasn’t sure if he’d get a Seinfeld reference, which would probably lead to a few awkward moments of cultural confusion.

After his media session, Tony was rapping with a crew of French writers en Francais, as I stood in the back and tried to understand what was being said. I thought they were talking about Drew Gooden’s hair and, sure enough, Tony turned to me and asked me if I knew what the deal was. I explained that Drew had told me it was a nod to the 1980s, and Tony said, “But it’s 2007.” I know, Tony. Join the club.

The Cavs eventually came out and spread the floor, drawing reporters all over the place. I ended up catching up with a few reporters I’m friends with and didn’t interview anyone. Because, really, what are they going to say? We’re going to play better tomorrow? Got it, thanks guys.

So, now I’m back at the hotel, posting this before I go grab some lunch. Got big plans tonight. Kind of. Will post again sooner or later.

And if you don’t think I’m wroking hard down here, check out this photo of me and Drew Gooden at yesterday’s media session. See me? Down there in the bottom right, that’s my hand with the pen in it. Grinding! (Hopefully our publisher sees this so he knows all the cash he’s shelling out for us to be here is totally worth it.)