Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Resolution

After falling in Chicago to the Bulls on Saturday, the Wizards were back in D.C. to take on the 12-19 Dallas Mavericks on New Year's Day. Since winning the NBA title in 2011, the Mavs had been experiencing a fall from glory, this season in particular, due to the absence of their top scorer, and legendary shooter Dirk Nowitzki, who had been sidelined because of a right knee injury for which he had received arthroscopic surgery on October 19th. Dirk made his return in a blowout loss in San Antonio last Sunday, and only managed 8 points in 20 minutes. In his next three games back, still relegated to reduced minutes, he was only able to manage 9 points, 5 points and 8 points against Oklahoma City, Denver and San Antonio respectively. Dallas had been struggling to produce wins without the all-star German forward, and had lost six straight games, dating back to December 18th in a home win against the Sixers.

Game notes placed on all court-side seats, complete with everything from probable starters to pronunciation guide

The Wizards, 4-24, were a little less depleted coming into tonight's action against the Mavericks, as Jordan Crawford was back in the lineup after sitting out the last game in Chicago due to a sore left ankle. Crawford was still relegated to a bench role, and Garrett Temple got his second start for the Wizards at point guard since being called up from the D-League.

I arrived for work at 3:30 P.M. for an early 6:00 P.M. start , and was pleasantly surprised to be let into the arena as soon as I went through the administrative entrance. Immediately, I made haste for the front row, hoping to get some candid photos of players before checking in for work, but was chased out of a my court-side seat by an usher working a nearby section. I was only able to get a glimpse of several Dallas players shooting around, before heading back to the concourse. Realizing that I still had about 20 minutes until I was supposed to be at work, I found time to get a few pictures from various sections of the arena that I hadn't spent much time in, including the Acela Club restaurant, which offers a fine dining experience at tables overlooking the court.

Mavericks rookie center and Florida State grad Bernard James served six years in the U.S. Air Force as a staff sergeant, making three tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Qatar, before finally making the NBA at the age of 27.

After picking up my camera from the office, and establishing my target goal of 270 photos for the evening, I hit the lower bowl in search of pregame photos, but was again told to leave, and return to the concourse, which left me scratching my head, because my supervisor for fan photography distinctly tells us to get photos of people with the court in the background before the game. It was then that I came to the conclusion that there was a definite disagreement in terms of the privileges of fan photographers between Printroom and the rest of the employees in the arena. I walked back to the concourse, only to reappear in the lower bowl, in a completely different section, with a friendlier usher, and was able to get up to just under 100 pictures before the opening tip, including a great shot of a girl from Germany in a Dirk Nowitizki national team jersey, holding up a sign in German she had created for the Mavericks superstar. Following tip-off I was able to visit, not only the club level restaurant, but the Green Turtle sports bar on the lower level, and the Dewar's club level bar for photos during the first and second quarters.
The Acela Club restaurant offers a fine dining experience with an incredible view of the action.

Interestingly, it was Bradley Beal bobble-head night, so a lot of the shots I took on the concourse were of fans holding up the miniature recreation of the Wizards guard, some still in the box, capturing the novel piece of memorabilia in their fan photos.

Bradley Beal's bobble-head doll

With about 5 minutes left in the game, I was at around 250 shots for the night, and with the Wizards down by a substantial margin, fans started filing out of their seats. I took full advantage of this wave of patrons, and in the time-span of about 15 minutes, was able to get all the way to 300 shots for the night, which was enough to put a smile on my supervisors face, and give me some personal satisfaction in edging out my fellow fan photographers for the most number of pictures taken.

It turned out to be a disappointing game for the home team. Vince Carter led Dallas to a 103-94 win with 23 points. Dirk Nowitzki came off the bench again, but provided 11 points in his best outing since his return. The Mavs back-court was also solid. Darren Collison had 15 points and 8 assists, and O.J. Mayo had 15 points and 5 assists, as the Mavs moved to 13-19 on the season. Bradley Beal, on his own bobble-head night, led the Wizards with 22 points in the loss.