It’s not everyday you see 6-foot-11 and 6-foot-3 men jostling for position in line at a hot dog stand. Then again, its not everyday the Boston Celtics practice at the George Washington University.
Late Thursday my friend told me that the Celtics were holding Friday’s practice at the Smith Center.
I guess it made sense. An NBA team would practice in a gym with little publicity and no autograph-seeking fans around. So I forgot about the 45-point loss the Celtics suffered that night and planned to become a stalker the next morning. I work at the equipment desk at the Smith Center, so I planned to “get my paycheck” Friday afternoon, coincidentally at 1 p.m., the same time practice was supposed to end.
“Where are you going?” my roommate asked me at 12:45 Friday. I told him my plan. His only comment – “Hey super fan, are you gonna smooch Antoine Walker?”
See my roommate thinks I’m a little too obsessed with sports. He just doesn’t get why I get really excited watching grown men shooting a ball into a little hoop. Well, I don’t really get it either, I think maybe I inherited the over-obsessed “super fan” gene from my father.
I walked over to the Smith Center and spotted a massive man standing outside the entrance. I took a closer look; it was Cedric Maxwell, the former Celtic great and current radio analyst.
“Uh, are, are you Cedric Maxwell,” was all I managed to blurt out.
“Yeah I’m Cedric Maxwell.”
We shook hands and I mumbled something about my dad being a big fan, and he told me to say hello for him, and that was it.
What the hell was the matter with me? Why was I so nervous? I was acting like I was talking to a really good-looking girl for the first time. It was like that episode of Seinfeld where George has a “non-sexual” crush on a male mountain climbing instructor. I desperately wanted to impress Max with my knowledge of the Celtics, but my speech was incoherent.
After meeting Max, I went inside the ground floor entrance of the Smith Center to see what was going on. I checked the business office. Oops, forgot I don’t get paid every week. I walked out into the lobby, and sure enough people were peeking through the cracks in the main arena door. The place was bustling; the GW players were itching to get out and practice, but at the same time were looking to see if they could catch a glimpse of the big boys.
At about 1:10 p.m., I stared in amazement as the players started coming out of the gym. Tony Delk, Vin Baker, the new big Russian guy whose name I can’t pronounce. But wait, who was this mystery man?
The master of disguise in a bucket hat and dark glasses happened to be Paul Pierce. Apparently, “The Truth” wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone. I guess he didn’t think the giant #34 on his jersey would give away his identity.
After Pierce walked out of the gym, I won the Bonehead of the Year award with a stupid comment. GW women’s basketball head coach Joe McKeown happened to walk by me, and for some odd reason, I mistook him for Celtics head coach Jim O’Brien.
“How are you doing,” McKeown asked me.
“Coach O’Brien?” I replied.
“Nope,” Joe said, shaking his head in that you-idiot-don’t-talk-to-me sort of way, and walked away.
Here I was, supposedly a sports writer for The Hatchet, calling one of the most successful coaches in GW history by the wrong name. Coach McKeown, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.
After my brain fart, I stood outside by the parked bus to try and catch up with some of the players. I glanced across the street to see Antoine Walker, Louis Vuitton bag in one hand, $100 bill in the other, calmly strutting out of the fine eating establishment known as Leo’s GW Deli.
I actually sucked it up and initiated a quick conversation with crumb faced ‘Toine, telling him that I still had faith in the Celts after the putrid loss the night before.
“It’s still early, it’s still early,” Walker reassured me as he walked onto the bus.
Most of the Celtics boarded the team bus, but a few were still hungry. I couldn’t help but laugh at the nearly seven-foot Tony Battie and bald headed Tony Delk shaking in the cold, waiting for a hot dog at the stand near Funger.
Meeting the Celtics was a thrill, and as nervous as I was, I realize that except for their financial assets and athletic abilities, these guys are normal people. I mean, every normal person, even NBA players, think hot dogs are the most delicious food on the planet. I hope so at least.