We were lucky enough on this trip to get not one but two baseball-basketball double headers. Both were pretty similar in that one game was great and engaging and the other was… not. But we still had fun at all of the games and we were lucky that the scheduling worked out and allowed us to do it twice. Since the spring training game was a bit of a yawn, that means the basketball game that night, between the Suns and the Clippers, was exceptionally enticing. I would say that it is probably one of my favorite NBA games we’ve been to, and it resulted in us going back on Sunday!
Our seats for this game were pretty similar to our seats the last time we watched the Clippers play (in LA): a couple rows up from the floor on the sideline near one of the hoops. We were opposite the benches, which actually ended up being cool because there were a ton of big time fans there and the Suns offer seats for sale literally right next to their benches, so we had great views of them, including John Calipari and his son. There are quite a few former Kentucky players playing for the Suns, so it made sense that he would be there and in such great seats. The last NBA game we went to (Mavs vs Grizz in Dallas) was a horrific display of basketball and left a horrible taste in our mouths, so this game was a great palate cleanser. No one there would claim that the Suns even try to play a lick of defense, but that made it all the more entertaining, especially because they have some studs who can straight up ball out on offense. Devin Booker was just less than a week removed from scoring 70 points in a game. We figured based on our luck and law of averages that he would struggle, but he balled out again, scoring 33. The Clippers were definitely the better team though and outmatched the Suns, especially at the point guard position with Chris Paul. He could have scored anytime down the court if he wanted to when Tyler Ulis was guarding him, but he set up Blake Griffin a ton, who shot well from the outside for a dude known for dunking and finished with 31. Ulis did get a double double, though, and there are some other players for the Suns that are just freak athletes. Lots of above the rim plays that got the packed house fired up. We had a great time, but arguably the best part for Joel took place off the court. At one point during the game, he looked over to the section next to us and spotted Mike Brey, the head basketball coach at Notre Dame. He nerded out and went over to ask for a picture, which he graciously obliged. Both him and his wife were super nice, and we didn’t seem to alert too many people around us to the fact that he was there, so they didn’t get harassed too much after us.
Before the game, we went to a restaurant near both where we were staying and the arena called The Kettle Black Kitchen and Pub. Honestly, it was so busy and buzzing in that area that it was one of the few places we could get into, but we really lucked on a good spot. I tried one of their local microbrews which wasn’t bad and Joel had a couple of his own. The best part, however, was the food. We split a couple of appetizers, including the Philly Cheese Steak Fries, which changed my view on Philly Cheese Steak in general and makes me full just thinking about it. They were amazing- salty, cheesy, and with plenty of steak to go around. We were full enough after that and the wings (which were also good) that we opted to skip main dishes. Definitely worth the stop if you’re in the area!
After staying at my aunts house Thursday night, she hooked us up with a friend’s apartment in the CityScape apartments that are literally right across the street from Talking Stick Resort Arena, where the Suns play. I’m not sure if folks there regularly rent out their apartments, but if you can get in there through AirBnB or some other way, do it. The apartments are nice and spacious, it’s safe, there are tons of restaurants around, and you’re right by the basketball arena and baseball stadium. The only down side was that we didn’t have a parking pass, so we had to pay quite a bit to park each night. The good far outweighed the bad, though, and we were super appreciative of having such a great place to crash and hang out between games!
We walked to the game from the apartment, so I’m not sure on the parking situation, although I did see several parking garages in the area, so there are likely several options for regular stadium parking prices.
The following day (Friday) we had my aunt’s wedding and therefore didn’t make it to a hockey game, but the arena for that is right by the football stadium, where the Final Four games were played. We’ll definitely try and see one the next time we’re in town!
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.