January 22, 2014

The Best Laid Plans

Flying over the snow covered fields somewhere over Minnesota.
During the 2008-2009 NBA season, I managed to make it to every home game the Wizards played. It was the first and only time I have been at Verizon Center for all 41 home games and at the end of the season that year I felt like I had done my part as a fan to do right by the team. It would have been nice if the team had reciprocated and did its part to win more than they lost but that didn’t happen. For my dedicated fan efforts that year, I was rewarded with a team that finished with only 19 wins against 63 losses, tying the fewest wins in a season the team has had since I have been a season ticket holder in 2000.

Every year since then (and some before then), I have made perfect attendance a goal for the season and each year I have every intention of following through on that promise. I usually come awfully close. Last year I missed two games: one so I could spend the Christmas holiday with my family and one at end of the year against the Miami Heat when the allure of selling our tickets to make a couple of bucks overwhelmed the need to see part of what ended up being a season ending six game Wizards losing streak. I came super close two years ago, making it to the first 40 before skipping the final game for something that I deemed more important at the time. Stupid life…always getting in the way.

This year looked to be a slam dunk (pun intended). The Wizards were essentially on vacation courtesy of the NBA’s schedule makers around the Christmas holiday, which is the one true annual threat to me making it to every game. All I had to seemingly do was avoid getting deathly ill on the day of a home game and I’d fulfill my goal. I’m generally a pretty healthy guy plus I’d go downtown if I were a little under the weather in a second to watch hoops. The only real risk I saw came on December 14 when I squeezed in a quick trip to Iceland between home games that month. Eight hours before tipoff against the Clippers, I was sitting in the Reykjavik airport but I did manage to make it to Verizon Center for the end of the third quarter to watch the final stanza of the thumping the Clips gave us that night.

Target Center, home of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
But despite my best efforts and the sure thing it seemed, I am not going to make it to every home game this year. I managed to let my employer send me to Minneapolis yesterday and so I missed tonight’s Wizards-Celtics game that saw the Wizards fail to crack the .500 barrier for the fourth time this year at home against a Celtics team without their two starting guards and their top backcourt reserve. Pathetic. This was the Wizards’ fourth try at a winning record this season and they still couldn't get over the hump; the previous three tries ended in home losses to Milwaukee (not a typo), Dallas and Detroit. The next seven games feature contests against five of the top six teams in the Western Conference. I have a feeling we’re not going to get over .500 anytime soon.
I don’t mind traveling to Minnesota once in a while, although I’d rather not do it January (the temperature was minus 11 when I landed yesterday morning) and if I can manage to get sent here during a Timberwolves homestand, I’d love to take in another game at the Target Center. My company and the Wolves’ road schedule did me no favors this time.
But despite being far from home, I thought I had found a silver lining in the "this week only" free trial of NBA League Pass which allowed me to hunker down against the cold in my hotel room and watch the Wizards’ game tonight on my laptop. If only the Wizards could have taken this game seriously from the start instead of spotting the Cs an 18 point lead in the first half. I love technology, but maybe not tonight when the Wizards are losing to a clearly inferior team. Back in D.C. Thursday. Too bad the Wiz are on the road.

Doubletree Hotel Room 506, Minneapolis, MN

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