The true courtside seats

By:
11/15/2001

Everyone always thinks the best seats at a basketball game are those $1000 courtside seats where all the celebrities pay big bucks to sit. You know which ones I’m taking about.

Just think?Jack Nicholson and Lara Flynn Boyle are shown every weekend on NBC sitting in those “prime” seats at the Lakers games, while Spike Lee sits courtside at all the Knicks games with that damn orange towel draped over his head which he insists on waving around like he’s the expert on all Knick matters.

Name a famous person at any sporting event, for that matter, and he or she always has to be courtside, in the expensive seats for all to see. There are even “special seats” located courtside at Georgetown men’s preseason home games in McDonough.

Extra special people like the guy who barks like a dog at the opposing team get to sit in those seats?he has to be someone extra special to be as annoying as he is at those games.

But let me let you in a little known secret?those courtside seats are nothing compared to the most amazing, most obviously REAL courtside seats in the house. Whether in McDonough, the MCI Center or at Madison Square Garden the real courtside seats (no wusses allowed) are located right under (or I guess technically to the side) of the basket where any number of photographers can always be found. They know what’s up.

Yes, the catered food and the comfy cushions on the $1000 seats are a sweet deal (especially the chicken sandwiches at Madison Square Garden), but photographers are no wimps. Who needs a cushy seat when you’ve got the hardwood floor, a trombone player blowing out your eardrums with his rendition of the fight song and a pack of cheerleaders who always manage to shake their pom-poms right in front of your camera?

Whether sitting, sprawling or crouching under the basket, camera in hand and on high alert for stray balls flying in the general vicinity of the camera or your face, you have to decide which one is a bigger priority. I tend to lean more towards preserving my face over my camera, although I’m sure there are plenty of photographers out there who would beg to differ, though I know Gina is on my side.

Well, OK, besides the flying ball problem, the courtide?real courtside seats that is?really are a sweeter deal. First of all, photographers aren’t stupid. They don’t need catered food brought to their seats when they can disappear to the press room during half time to grab breakfast, snacks, drinks; you name it, it’s all supplied in the press room (at least at the MCI Center).

And who could argue that the view from the real courtside seats on the floor isn’t 10 times better than the view sitting up in the fake courtside seats? Where else can someone look up, sometimes through a telephoto lens, and actually see a player grinding his teeth and grimacing as he goes up for a layup or a dunk?

What planet would you have to be on to pass up an opportunity to help a player to his feet after he’s taken a nose dive into a patch of photographers, even if he’s left a few of your co-workers limping to the trainer’s room in the process?

So next time you decide to pay big bucks for “courtside seats,” think about the people with the actual best seats in the house:the photographers really sitting courtside, dodging balls, screaming over the sounds of the band and just plain doing their job while enjoying a basketball game for free.

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