Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Ride with the Idaho Stampede

I love the community feel surrounding Boise's NBA D- League Team. It brings me back to my days growing up in the east, watching legends from the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. I first learned the term "Thread the needle pass" after my father identified an amazing throw that Eric "Sleepy" Floyd had just completed.

I remember sitting at courtside and marvelling at the sheer size of Darryl Dawkins, and how he effectively began the "Gorilla Dunk," a now common occurrence in the sport.

On the playgrounds of New York and New Jersey, shooting hoops was a social gathering that connected people at all levels. Steeping out one afternoon and seeing aspiring, future, and past  NBA stars was a common occurrence.

I'll never forget those days.

Kobe Karl has a killer look-away pass
After moving to Idaho ten years ago, I sometimes wondered if, and how I would be able to share these precious slices of my urban upbringing with my children.

So imagine my joy when I realized that thanks to Rhea Allen of Peppershock Media Productions, along with the staff and players of the Idaho Stampede; my experience can be re-created right here in Boise! Last night's heartbreaking loss, a classic "buzzer beater" held about as much intensity as any game I have ever seen. The thriller put my mind back in Manhattan, inside Madison Square Garden. But the ultimate advantage lies in the fact that we were still in Boise.

What is the difference between a pro game in Boise and one in "the city?" For example, after a game I could actually walk down to the court, say hello to the players, grab autographs for my kids, and even chat with the general manager and game day operations staff. Parking is a whole lot cheaper out here too. I realy enjoyed my nice downtown walk after last night's contest, minus the congestion I would face elsewhere.

While grabbing a sandwhich at a local Irish place, I looked to my left and saw Stampede player Coby Karl walk in. I got a quick chance to say hello to him and to tell the 6' 5" 215 pound guard and former Boise State Bronco, that I admired his game. Next time you watch a Stampede game, pay attention to that that look-away pass he uses. It is downright deadly to any team trying to interrupt the flow of the Stampede offense.

The teams fan base, people you can interact with  each game day, looks like a "Who's Who" among fun, friendly an influential people in Boise. While volunteering to sell programs last night I ran into my tire guy from Les Schwab, a friend who runs a local dance studio, and a host of others.

Our first game day experience with the squad led to this blog entry. Here is an excerpt:
I thought I recognized the face of that other parent standing near the bounce-house at the Idaho Stampede game last night.
It turns out that my guess was right, and it was columnist Michael Deeds, the Idaho Statesman’s entertainment editor. I have been reading and admiring his work for years. So it was nice to finally meet this pleasant and creative individual, and his lovely wife too.
Holler at me and say hello if you see me around on a game night. And if I'm selling programs, be sure to buy one. Game day sheets are only a buck, so sorry, no discounts (insert laughter here).

 Go Stampede!

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