They picked me up, and we drove down to the arena. The seats were excellent, lower bowl, only 14 rows back, near center court. I looked at the ticket stub and was stunned to see a price tag of $95. K* hadn’t paid for them, they were unused season tickets owned by a family member. But just the idea that the tickets had cost so much got me kind of keyed up for the game, the tail furiously wagging the dog.
The show began with a bang, literally. Fireworks boomed over the crowd, flame throwers belched fire, spotlights illuminated a giant disco ball, and an announcer who drinks way too much Red Bull introduced the members of the team. A flock of cheerleaders in white go-go boots did pelvic thrusts at center court to a thumping soundtrack, the JumboTron scoreboard flashed garish, seizure-inducing advertising messages, and once my teeth and eyeballs stopped rattling in their sockets, I noticed that the game had somehow begun.
A few minutes of basketball would take place, and then one of the teams (or one of the officials) would call a time out. This was the signal for some form of depressing, offensive or disturbing form of entertainment to take place. At one point, the Magic Minis were introduced. This was a herd of kids about 8 -10 years old, mostly girls. They rushed out onto the floor and began a dance routine that involved lots of pelvic thrusting, for the entertainment of the pedophiles in the audience. The two preteen (and apparently pre-gay) boys in the group performed leg kicks and splits, which will suit them well when they’re performing Disney On Ice in a few years.
At halftime, a hideously self-involved man brought out two groups of children to play a game of Simon Says, similar to what a DJ in a bad toupee might do at a Bar Mitzvah. Energetic future Marketing executives came out and blasted t-shirts into the crowd using compressed-air bazookas. A moron in a mascot suit raced up and down the aisles, annoying the paying customers. Remember, this horror show cost $95.
There was one particular event that I found the most troubling. A three-foot-thick foam pad was laid down beneath one of the baskets, and a trampoline was set down at the head of the key. Members of the cheerleading squad would run down the court holding a basketball, bounce off the trampoline, pirouette in the air, slam dunk the ball, and then plop onto the foam pad to the cheers of the crowd. It took me awhile to understand why this bothered me so much. The athletes who have worked all their lives to develop speed, accuracy and a 30-inch vertical leap risk injury and their careers performing unassisted slam dunks. It seemed somehow demeaning, watching bleached blondes with fake boobs pretending to achieve the same goal.
Finally, the game ended The noise stopped. The music stopped. The dancing stopped. The lights and fireworks stopped. The best thing about the $95 ticket was that the show it paid for eventually came to an end.