Just as there is a first game and stadium, there was a first major sports trip. It was the winter after I had graduated from college, and I was getting the travel itch/wanted to get Joel something really great for his birthday. Joel is a big Raiders fan, so what better gift than a game! My original thought was to take him to a game in Denver, but apparently he'd been to Mile High with his dad and didn't have a great experience... Fortunately, I had a friend working in San Diego, so the Raiders game there right before Christmas caught my eye! Soon, my obsessive planner self turned that one game into 5 (plus some other fun stuff) and we had our very first "sports trip!" We flew in to Los Angeles on Thursday and had our first game the next day.
I must admit, this was the game we were least excited for on our trip, so it was probably good we went to it first. As a sorta Celtics fan at the time, there was certainly no love in my heart for the Lakers. They weren't very good at the time, and they were playing the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves. Our seats weren't great- this was really just a warm up for the other games. Regardless of our lukewarm feelings, however, there is no excuse for us not getting a picture together at this game. We were young and timid, and at the Celtics game we had friends there with us to take pictures. This is where Stadium Chaser rule #3 came from- we don't have a picture of the two of us from this game! But I did get a few pictures out front, as well as one of the scoreboard, which should give you a general idea of how high up we were. That was my favorite moment of the game though- they did this thing where you could text in a message and it would go across the scoreboard, so Joel surprised me by sending in this!
Other than that, the game was pretty uneventful. The Lakers won, Kobe was hurt and didn't play (heartbreaker), but we at least got to see Kevin Love while he was still a double double machine. We probably need to go back and do the Lakers right, but at least we learned a lot!
Before the game, we went and ate at the Yard House. The whole area by the stadium is really cool, and the Yard House is one of the many restaurants in that area. We definitely made a great choice- food was great, and there were tons of options for drinks.
While the game was a bit of a dud, we did something else that day that was AWESOME! I don't use the all capital letter word easily, either. We went to the filming of SportsNation. Nowadays, I don't get much time to watch TV, but back in the day, SportsNation was a staple of my day. I love Marcellus Wiley and I tolerated Max Kellerman and it was so cool getting to see them do their thing in person. But the best part was... it was free! I just applied for tickets on a website called 1iota that gives away tickets for all kinds of live tapings of shows- Jimmy Fallon, Live! with Kelly, etc. SportsNation is taped at the LA studio, which is also right by the Staples Center. We got there way too early, but the wait was worth it and having Marcellus tell me he "liked my haircut" was one of the trip highlights.
At this time, we were pretty poor, so we stayed with a friend's family in Orange County. It was great to have a place to stay for free, but being that far away from the stadium had it's challenges- for example, we had to be to the taping of SportsNation by 10, so to not get caught in traffic, we had to leave way too early and then sat around for a while. Beggars can't be choosers though, right?
We rented a car, and parking in the area was really easy. LA is sprawled out quite a bit, so it never felt as cramped as some of the other cities.
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.