In light of the recent and confounding actions by blogger Mark Cuban to ban any and all bloggers from access to the Dallas Mavericks, I'm happy to report that the Indiana Pacers have been nothing but accommodating and friendly to this blogger.
Conrad Brunner used to cover the Pacers and write sweet, general NBA columns for the Indy Star. Bruno now covers the Pacers from the inside and controls the content at Pacers.com.
A few months ago, Bruno asked me to contribute content to their fan blog section to go along with blogs by himself, Travis Diener, and a general fan blog. So I always post my game recaps and occasionally other stuff and there's a link on the front page that includes my logo. Nice exposure for this site without a lot of extra work. To his credit, Bruno implored me to make sure I maintained my voice, in other words, don't dilute any criticism or change what you're doing for fear of a getting it pulled.
Now, the title of this post may be a bit misleading. I haven't been on a crusade, working the Pacers for a media credential. I have a job that keeps me real busy, plus two kids, so I don't have a lot of time to go to games in person. Since I was planning to go to the Knicks game on Monday, I contacted Bruno to tell him I wanted to say 'hi' since I hadn't met him in person. All of our interaction had been through email or the phone to that point.
To my surprise, Bruno responded by offering to set me up with a media credential. I was real appreciative and took him up on the offer. So, this wasn't exactly a "let the blogger in" situation since I already had a relationship with Pacers.com and Bruno had read my work.
Once I was set to go, I wanted to make sure I represented the blogosphere well. So, after I picked up the credential I tried to stay out of the way and observe while others were working. I had my voice recorder just in case and a notebook. Before the game I hung out in the media room and pored over the game notes.
I was warned not to cheer or seek autographs or basically slip into any form of fan mode. Seemed obvious to me, although I appreciated the reminder on cheering. I don't normally get cheer during games, but if something spectacular happens I will burst out of my chair in appreciation.
As the pre-game festivities started, I sat and focused on sucking the emotion out of my body. After about five minutes I was flat lined for the game, no problem. Not even a slashing, one-handed, tomahawk dunk from Flip Murry, a guy I wasn't sure could even dunk, was able to crack my stoic veneer.
I can see how sports reporters might become jaded and cynical over time. You take anyone with a pulse and have them sit through rounds of exciting stimuli without reacting and it would take a lot to impress after awhile. Nothing was making me budge. During a quarter break, the Pacers honored a 14 year old kid from Zionsville for skipping his birthday party and instead organizing a fund raiser for relief efforts in Darfur. I didn't even clap for the kid.
After the game I considered leaving, so I thanked Bruno and then decided I might as well take full advantage of the night. I asked if I could go in the post-game locker room. As he did all night, Bruno treated me like any other media member. As long as I went in there to work, no problem.
I figured I was safe interviewing Stephen Graham because if all else failed, I could tell him how much I've been begging for him to play lately. Stevie was in the shower for awhile so I hung out and waited, observing the machinations of the post-game scene. Quite interesting and no, I'm not telling stories.
Finally, I approached Stevie, remembered to press record, and asked him a few questions. As expected, he was great. On my way out, I spoke to Mike Wells who was real nice even after I mentioned my blog.
After the locker room, I went back to the media room, recorded my mobile post and then went home. The best thing about the whole night was that I was treated well and by that I mean with no special treatment. I had to ask a few questions to survive but I didn't want to disturb people who were there working, too. On the other hand, I had full access and was left to learn the ropes on my own, which is the only worthwhile way to learn.