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List of Articles by Homer D. Sayson


 

NBA Finals Diaries 2

By Homer D. Sayson
PhilBoxing.com
22 Jun 2012



MIAMI -- Morning was breaking when I got up at 5:20 am local time. Way too early for my liking, but road trips always rob me of a deep slumber. Hotel beds and pillows, though soft and cushy, simply don't provide the familiarity of home.

Besides, going away is harder for me now. I have an 8-year old at home -- John Arthur -- and like most dads feel, I'd like to be with my son as often as time and circumstance permit. The Wife -- Ermee -- is also a loved one I don't like parting with.

The TV was blaring all night in my room. Just one of my quirks, using noise to find quiet peace. But it was all white noise bouncing off the walls as I peeled my night clothes and started to worm my way through a long day.

Breakfast at the hotel lobby was all ready when I got there. T'was the usual fare -- bagels, donuts, cereal and white bread, none of which I took. But I did have a tall cup of coffee. No cream, no sugar. Black as Darth Vader.

After some articles got done, thanks to 24/7 Wifi availability, I jumped in the shower for a trip to the NBA hotel headquarters at the Sonesta Bayshore Hotel on Coconut Grove, a swanky enclave a few miles south of downtown Miami.

Sylvio, a cab driver from Haiti took my fare. He zipped through interstate 95 and US-1 highway like a race car driver. Some 20 minutes and $25 later, I arrived at Sonesta. And from there, I proceeded to the Mayfair Hotel and Spa across the street along Florida Avenue to attend to some NBA business.

Lunch was at New York Pizza Roma, where I plunked $5.50 for some lame hotdog to go with a barely cold bottle of water. I burned the unwanted calories window shopping at The Grove, a chic place littered with fancy stores that obviously catered to the wealthy.

I then went back to Sonesta Bayshore Hotel. Man, that place reeks of everything five-star. The moment you enter Sonesta, your spirit is lifted by the gentle scent of freshly-peeled fruit. And the lobby is majestic, adorned with furiniture you'd find in an art gallery. And the washrooms were immaculate, not a speck of dust nor dirt anywhere.

At about 5 pm, I boarded the shuttle that ferries all the media from Sonesta to the American Airlines Arena. It was a 15-minute drive that navigated briefly through I-95 and downtown.

Security was tight at the AAA. Miami police were crawling all over. I had to go through a metal detector to enter the arena and my laptop and NBA Finals ID were carefully scrutinized. Police dogs were inside the arena along with personnel from the explosives unit.

Media dining was a feast --- turkey, meatballs, salads, soup. But I relished the dessert the most, Haagen Daz ice cream which came in six different flavors.

With plenty to spare before Game 4 tip-off, I toured this fabulous arena inside and out and took pictures for posterity. I met my international media friends in the media work room and though I see them only during these Finals, those meetings are always warm and wonderful. And there is almost the same joy in making new friends.

This being the Finals, the media heavyweights were here to report and analyze the game to millions all over the world. Magic Johnson of ESPN/ABC-TV and Charles Barkley of NBA-TV led the army of NBA legends turned broadcasters. Most major newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times, and magazine giant Sports Illustrated also had representation.

Game 4 came and went, rocking the AAA as a fullhouse crowd went into a celebratory frenzy following the Heat's victory after trailing by 17 in the first quarter.

It was about 1 am when I entered the hospitality suite that the NBA hosted for free for the credentialed media at Sonesta ballroom. I had some chicken wings and a burger. And since the bar didn't offer my beloved Rum and Coke, I settled with a few botltles of Amstel liight.

Another day, another night in a paradise called Miami. (Homer D. Sayson)


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