Tying A Bow On London

This will be the last report from Michael who was kind enough to share his thoughts with us in the Dino Nation Blog on his trip to London to see the Raptors. I just want to thank him for making us a part of his experience. I felt it would add something to the blog to experience these games through someone's eyes from Europe. They would have a much different view than us. I hope everyone has enjoyed Michael's contributions to the blog here is his final instalment:

After having caught up on my sleep, and getting thrown back into my work- and university-life, I want to summarize my experience: For those who don’t know, London is a beautiful city! Besides the underground and it’s weird first and last train hours, there is literally something to be done all day long. Now, for those who reside in bigger cities like Toronto, that might be the case all the time. Since I’ve been born and raised, and am still living, in the third biggest town of Austria, Linz, a steel-city just like Hamilton of roughly 200.000, I wouldn’t really know.

Having basically only two days with both nights planned out, I didn’t really do much sightseeing as it was my sixth trip to London, and like always, shopping was more important on my list. The number one items in my calendar were both NBA games at The O2 though, the reason I made the trip in the first place!

I had never been to The O2 nor any other indoor arena holding nearly twenty thousand people. I’ve been to a soccer game for the Portuguese cup game last February but that’s it as far as my live sports experience goes. The O2 is a modern venue and what impressed me was the short lines to the bathroom even during game breaks. I don’t know if that’s normal as I can’t compare it to other arenas but that stuck in my head.

Though having touched on it before in my last post about Saturday’s game, I have to bring it up once again: GBP 55 (circa EUR 65, CAD 90) for seats in the second to last row are just too expensive. The ones in the fifth or sixth row of the upper bowl for Friday’s game were okay but asking people to pay that much for sitting in the roof? Surprisingly, the view was better than expected. But just to give you an idea, even though I sat on the side where the Raptors TV crew shot their pre-game piece, I hardly recognized Paul Jones as the third member sitting in between Matt Devlin and Leo Rautins!

Since I am already bringing up points from the last post and speaking of Paul Jones, I had a blast meeting him and fellow Fan590’s Eric Smith! They took time less than an hour before the game for a nice talk and even though I never listen to their game broadcasts as I watch games on demand on NBA League Pass Broadband International, I try catching Fan590’s Hoops or its podcast as often as I can.

Besides what I already said about the Friday and Saturday game, I was really soaking everything in you normally don’t get to see on TV. Who knew the Raptor was so active in between game breaks? Okay, most of you probably did know but for those only getting to watch on TV didn’t! I also didn’t know how much time Jay Triano always takes talking to his assistants before going into the huddle during time outs. Compared to Avery Johnson, he burns more than half his time on checking with his staff.

What I also didn’t know and had saved for my last post: I didn’t know Jose Calderon could dunk! Unless I completely lost my mind or eye-sight, I swear he dunked during warm-ups! I mean yeah, smaller people like him have won the dunk contest before, but I never figured he was that athletic! I mean, he sure is athletic compared to me but dunking athletic, I didn’t know!

Anyways, if the NBA plans on doing this again, I hope they figure out a way to persuade The O2’s management to fix WiFi and to talk to Transport for London about their maintenance work schedule. But maybe they even decide to go to another city, The O2 is not the only venue in Europa that could handle NBA games! I’m sure the NBA office knows that from the pre-season games, though I never been to any of those as they are just public work outs to me. The regular season is what counts and I hope they bring back a few games next year! Even if it’s not the Raptors, which is very, very unlikely, I’ll sure look into going.

Thanks for reading my posts and I hope you enjoyed following my thoughts on my first ever NBA experience! If you did, maybe you’ll follow me on Twitter @Euro4Raps but only if you promise not to @ me with game spoilers (as I watch them a few hours later on demand)!

Thanks to Michael for all his efforts. One of the things when I started this blog that never crossed my mind is that people all over the world would read it. I have got to know readers from not just where Michael is from but in Spain, Poland, Italy, and even see hits on occasion for the Dino Nation Blog from places like Australia and China and many other nations to numerous to mention. The Raptors try to be Canada's team and we get hits from all across this country and North America as well. I do not ever see a day in my life time the NBA goes outside of North America but for fans of the NBA across this globe we live in I hope they do attempt to bring basketball to those places. The efforts those fans make to follow the game is tremendous. They deserve to be rewarded. A game with the Raptors and Nets in New Jersey or Toronto would have been just another game of the 41 that make up the schedule. But the games in London were something special for all those fans that do not have the fortune of having the NBA in their backyard.

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