Andre Iguodala

My first 19 hours in New York

I’m in the air as I write this, somewhere between New York and San Francisco (maybe Ohio?), after one of the most tiring and craziest day-and-a-halves in my life.

It all started when with a 4 a.m. wakeup yesterday for my 6:30 a.m. flight from SFO to JFK. No problems there, besides the fact I was going on an hour of sleep, and as a freelancer I don’t get my transportation paid for, so I had to walk a mile and a half to BART finishing with a nice safe stretch of the Tenderloin. I was headed for my first time to NYC for a press event (party) featuring Kevin Garnett among others, including a rumored appearance by Mr. Moped himself, Monta Ellis.

However, it was going to be impossible to rub shoulders with any NBA stars if I couldn’t get there (unless I went to all the strip clubs in town), and getting to the party meant trying to figure out the subway system. For somebody used to BART, the NY subway system is nearly incomprehensible. It’s like the difference between arithmetic and calculus. I made it to the hotel fine, but getting to the event got dicey when I took the right train — in the wrong direction.

About 40 minutes later I finally made it to the Canal St. Station, but couldn’t find the club. I had checked the map before leaving my hotel room, but it’s tough to figure out where “northeast” is when it’s dark and all that’s around you are tall buildings. I’ve never felt more touristy, and that turned to frustration when I asked a woman in front of a hotel where Thompson street was and couldn’t find it because she told me to go in the wrong direction.

I didn’t find out until about ten minutes later when I came back to the same hotel and asked a bellhop and he told me the correct way — how do women expect men to always ask for directions when people like this woman are giving opposite directions with absolute certainty? I feel like blaming Sarah Palin for this, but that might be because I just spent the first half hour of this plane trip reading the New York Post.

I made it to the club about 45 minutes late, which probably was a good thing because otherwise I would have just ended up drinking more Red Bull and vodka (a combo that almost got me in real trouble (more on that later). I’m not a Red Bull drinker under any circumstances, and not often that I drink vodka either, but I figured it would be a good way to be able to drink top shelf liquor and stay awake at the same time, a tough order given that in the last 36 hours I had spent more hours flying (5) than sleeping (1.5, including a half hour on the plane). The VIP section was protected by two bumbling security guys, who spent the night alternately strong-arming people, drinking shots and getting their pictures taken with celebrities.

The bouncers didn’t let me into the VIP area because I didn’t have a camera (lame), and because the section was overcrowded (very true). There were quite a few celebs. No Monta (I would have been shocked if he was there, since earlier in the day I saw his moped injury mentioned on “First Take” [shockingly enough, Skip Bayless disapproves], ESPN News, “Around the Horn” and “PTI” (I’m not normally that much of an ESPN addict, but they have Dish Network on Delta now) for Monta, putting himself in a room full of media members probably sounded about as appealing as a cross-country road trip with Chris Cohan, Chris Mullin and Robert Rowell), but there were others:

KG: Would not stop yelling “Anything is possible!” OK, that isn’t true. Even taller in person than he seems on television, and shockingly he was wearing a sweater over a collared shirt and tie. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him but from what I heard he was a decent interview. His teeth are so white they almost lit up the dance floor.

Andre Iguodala: I did get to talk to Iggy, and he isn’t as tall as you’d think — maybe 6’4″? Cool guy though, and pretty honest. He thinks he should be first-team All Defense, and even mentioned how he was sixth in steals last year (true).

Danilo Gallinari: I talked to him too, but not as long as Iguodala because his English is, how you say, not so good. My favorite scene of the party was when Gallinari got stopped by a bouncer when trying to get into the VIP section, and you could tell the bouncer didn’t quite believe he was on the Knicks. I’m also pretty sure Gallinari doesn’t use deodorant.

Rajon Rondo: Probably about 5’11”, and he wouldn’t talk to me because he was in the middle of hitting on a groupie. And no, he didn’t brush me off because he’s read this here site. I also didn’t tell him that SGL thinks he looks like a girl.

Brook Lopez: He looked slightly upset the entire time and left early. I didn’t know if it was because nobody wanted to talk to him or that the people who did kept calling him “Robin” or asked where the other Collins twin was.

Usain Bolt: Huge KG fan, apparently. Never left the VIP section, so I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. At least an inch taller than Iggy, six inches taller than Rondo.

The Cool Kids
: Sounded pretty decent as a live act, at least during the two songs they performed. Probably the most down to earth rappers I’ve ever seen — the only guys who weren’t with an agent and/or bodyguards.

Stuart Scott: BOO-YAH!!!!! God, I wanted to say that to him, but that would have involved talking to Stuart Scott. Probably dresses about ten years too young for his age, including a crazy amount of what looked like bracelets on his right wrists. I’m guessing at least two of them had magnets or titanium in them. Is Stuart actually a celebrity, though? Let’s move on.

I’m not sure why Rondo was so worried about getting interrupted while trying to get his mack on; there were about 100 groupies trolling around the place the entire evening. These girls were like heat-seeking missiles, if by heat you mean someone with a guaranteed contract, diamond earrings and at least two luxury SUV’s. Pretty much three-quarters of the attendees were either groupies or Ruben Studdard look-alikes who were either bouncers or bodyguards. With all the groupies, athletes, bodyguards and media members walking around, it was an odd collection of people to say the least.

So around 1 a.m. they started clearing out the place, and through the power of Red Bull was somehow able to find my way back to the hotel and crash for the night after setting my watch alarm. Well, either my alarm didn’t go off or I slept through it (I’m figuring the latter, Red Bull apparently doesn’t give you wings after a late night unless you keep drinking it, I guess) and I woke up at 9:30.

My plane was leaving at 10:50.

I called the airline and got my flight moved to 2:55 p.m., or so I thought. After the operator put me on hold for five minutes, she told me that sorry, no flights were available and I’d have to get to the airport and go on standby. Great. So I left as quickly as possible (I’m sure I forgot something in my hotel room, I’m just not sure what at this point), took a $50 cab ride to the airport and a miracle occurred.

My check-in lasted 30 seconds, I got moved to an empty security line and I didn’t get searched. Out of sheer hope and desperation, I sprinted to the gate (by this time it was 10:40). Out of breath and breaking a sweat, as I ran I figured I was about a minute away from being told bad news and trying to comfort myself by finding the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts (it really is the best iced coffee the time has come for Dunkin’ to go from regional to national…In ‘N Out too). But amazingly, my original flight was still in “Final Boarding” stage, waiting for somebody else who had checked a bag and hadn’t boarded yet.

To my delight the counter guy ripped up my boarding pass for a 2:55 standby and printed up a new ticket for the 10:50 flight. He apologetically told me it was an aisle seat, like I cared. I would have taken a middle seat between a large unwashed man and a mother holding a cranky infant. Hell, I would have sat in the overhead storage bins rather than pay for a whole new flight and/or spend the entire day hung over tired in JFK. NYC is as huge, crowded and exciting as everyone says and I loved every minute of my 19 hours here, but I was very grateful to have somehow made that flight.

And that’s how I got here, sitting in my aisle seat watching ads for horrible-looking new CBS shows on the plane’s big screen. I’m not sure, should I Tivo Jay Mohr in “Gary Unmarried” or a show about a woman who “want(s) a life partner,” so she goes to a psychic who tells her she will soon marry somebody she used to go out with, so she actually tries to reconnect with all of her old exes. It’s called “The Ex List,” and the only show I’d rather watch less this fall is “Jon and Kate plus 8.” Ooh, now they’re showing the premiere of “Worst Week.” It’s time for a nap.


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