It's NBA Finals time. You can tell that just by going around the state of Utah. Everyone's got their Jazz signs, their Jazz flags, their Jazz shirts - everyone's just flat-out crazy about the Jazz being in the Finals.
I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write this story about the Finals experience, and dang it, they even let me go to the NBA Finals.I went to the Delta Center early, about two hours before tip-off, and my dad - Scott Taylor, the Deseret News associate sports editor - showed me around areas of the Delta Center that most people don't get to see.
We saw the interview rooms, the media areas, the locker rooms, the NBA rooms, the NBC rooms, the wives lounge and even the referees' locker room.
Walking around in the Delta Center tunnels before the game, I saw some players, coaches and NBC and ESPN people that I see all the time on TV - like John Stockton, Greg Ostertag and coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz; Steve Kerr, Luc Longley, Scottie Pippen and coach Phil Jackson of the Bulls; Bill Walton, John Salley, and Ahmad Rashad of NBC; and Jack Ramsay, Dan Patrick, and David Aldridge of ESPN.
I also saw 7-foot-4 Mark Eaton walk by, and the former Jazz center is very big in real life.
We went back to the media area to join the sports writers, photographers and broadcasters representing newspapers and radio and TV stations from all over the world. We were given dinner, which was free; and we then waited for the Bulls to come out of the locker room. It was pretty neat to see them do their stretching, huddle and team cheer.
It was time for the game to start. Since there are more than 1,300 media people covering the NBA Finals, each organization is guaranteed a certain number of reserved seats. The Deseret News was given six seats: two at the courtside press area behind the scorer's table, two more in the press area at the top of the lower concourse level and two more in the top-of-the-arena skybox suites that have been turned into media rooms.
My dad and I were not given assigned seats, so we had to see if we could find an empty seat in the upper-level press areas - I don't know if you'd call them suites. Besides having popcorn, pretzels and soft drinks for the media, they're not much of a luxury. They are the ones at the very top of the Delta Center, and the view isn't too great. You're lucky to see the numbers on the jerseys. Luckily, there was a TV near where I was sitting.
But being up that high doesn't take any of the noise away. During the pre-game introductions, I think I was pretty close to going deaf. I don't doubt that the Delta Center is the loudest arena in the NBA.
At the end of each quarter, someone brought updated box scores and play-by-play sheets for each media member. At halftime, we went back down to the main media area on the bottom floor of the arena and munched on nachos and cookies, which were also free.
For the second half, we went back, found the media suite where we were before and watched - or should I say we tried to watch - the rest of the game.
When it was over, we headed downstairs again so my dad could see what all the Deseret News sports writers were going to write about, and so I could see some of the NBA players.
As you probably can imagine, the crowd around the Bulls locker room was huge. The Jazz locker room wasn't as crowded as the Bulls locker room, but there were still lots of reporters. The interview room, which is the one with the NBA Finals backdrop that you always see on the news and Sports-Center, was also packed.
But if you want to see a lot of people, you should see the reporters and writers who chase after Michael Jordan. I was standing outside the Bulls' locker room when he came out to leave. He and his guards walked by me, and then most of the reporters who were waiting by the Bulls' locker room practically ran by me to chase after him.
The rest of the reporters went after the Worm himself, Dennis Rodman. But there weren't too many reporters who followed Steve Kerr and Jud Buechler. After most of the players left, much of the media started to leave, too.
My dad finished finding out what story each Deseret News writer was planning. He asked me if I had enough information for my article. I figured I had enough action and running around for one night, and I was pretty tired.
Being a media member isn't all it's cracked up to be. Although you get to see many players and coaches up close, I don't think you'd envy the few hours of sleep they get.
But just being able to be at the NBA Finals was enough for me. I loved every minute of it, and I'd do it again if they asked me. Maybe they'll need another story when the Jazz go to the NBA Finals next year. . . .