THURSDAY, June 14 - 10 p.m. (Jeff Tavss, Producer)
There's a lot of great things about Jen Herrera. She's a good reporter, she's a good person, she can cut a rug and she can't make heads or tails of the European debt crisis just like the rest of us.
BUT of all the great things about Jen, my favorite is her down-to-earthiness. No, I'm not sure that's a word, but since my middle name is Webster (as in the dictionary, and no, it really isn't but it helps the story) I can make up any word I want. There have been two examples during the NBA Finals so far that have reminded me of her down-to-earthiness.
While the rest of us were excited to head off to Oklahoma City, Jen's feelings were a bit muted. Sure, she's a Heat fan but she's also a HUGE fan of her girls and didn't want to leave them. Seriously? You think Diane Sawyer ever felt that way? Barbara Walters? Or another anchorwoman that I can't think of right now? No way! That's what makes her cool. What doesn't make her cool is when she doesn't think it's funny when I told her about a recent study that said 98 percent of young children forget what their mothers look like within two hours of them leaving on a trip to NBA no-mans-land. I would advise against doing that. Let's just say that the sun has burned lesser holes in someone's head than her stare did to me that day.
The second moment of down-to-earthiness came during the first quarter of Game 2 between the Heat and the Thunder. Having finished her work for the late shows, Jen and her photog, Marcel, came up to press row to enjoy some of the game. Having been in press row as many times as I've been invited to a SI swimsuit party (zippo), Jen was going all out for her Heat... Marcel too! The early Battier "3"... bonkers. A LeBron jumper... zonkers. The cotton candy dude walking by... complete bedlam. It was then that I had to inform Jen that there is no cheering on press row. Why? Probably because middle-aged, overweight, and dateless-at-their-high school prom men get a certain satisfaction out of not letting anyone know that hard work on a basketball court is appreciated.
Well, you should have seen Jen's face. Heartbroken. Devastated. Perplexed (what do you want, I don't have a thesaurus). I think it was at this point that she realized, like the rest of America, that sports reporters, producers, etc. are the epitome of loserness and there is no hope for us.
But the reason why this makes Jen so great is that she handled that realization with class. She walked away and let it be... leaving me alone with my thoughts, thinking wistfully of my prom night and how much better it would have been if I had had a date.
THURSDAY, June 14 - 5:50 p.m. (Victor Oquendo)
During one of my morning reports in front of the Chesapeake Energy Arena, a man drove by and screamed, "Can't go home yet, I have to take another victory lap," this was at 5:30 in the morning.
I thought this person was going to drive in a circle and head home. Instead he pulled over.
In my line of work, things like that happen all the time, and more often than not, the person is a little off their rocker.
A 75-year-old man got out of the car in a blue basketball uniform. Put on a black mask, a pilot's hat and a black cape. Then he pulled out a 1970 blue Schwinn bicycle and started his victory laps.
I thought this person was completely insane, until he came over and introduced himself.
"I'm Captain Thunder and I love this basketball team."
Remember this is all happening before the sunrise, just a few hours after game one. I've been up all night and can barely keep my eyes open and this 75-year-old man is riding around in front of an arena with mask and cape on.
"You will never find another group of fans like us," said Captain Thunder. "This team is very special to us, we believe in them and they believe in us."
Captain Thunder then gave me a shirt, which he custom made, that said, "You must believe, you will achieve." The shirt also had a giant picture of him printed on the front. He then offered to let me ride the bike, I took him up on the offer and he went home, but not before screaming, "Hiyo Thunder."
Sure, he's a little crazy, but more than anything he cares about the team and he's having a lot of fun.
In my first blog I wrote about the town and how they embraced this team. Now that I've seen the fan base firsthand, I know exactly what to expect in game 2.
I feel pretty strongly when I say that even if the Heat win tonight, the fans won't stop screaming, the music won't stop blaring and Captain Thunder won't stop riding his Schwinn.
TUESDAY, June 12 - 10:11 p.m. (Jeff Tavss, producer)
Before the NBA Finals began, it was mentioned how incredibly loud the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City could get. Well, I'm here to tell you... it's loud, but it's all "fake loud."
Don't know what "fake loud" is? You know those body parts on South Beach that seem a little too perfect? Well, you know they're fake (or you should know).
The noise in OKC during Game 1 is just like that. Yes, it's loud, but it's completely manufactured.