Tag Archives: NBA

Lost and found

When I first came to America in 1994, my mum insisted that I should try to stand behind tall people at every opportunity. Not so that I wouldn’t be able to see the sights of cities such as New York or Boston, but actually so that I would reduce my chances of being shot. Given that I’m 6ft 2in tall, and I don’t have many NBA stars in my address book, I’ve had to take my chances over the years. Just don’t tell my mum, OK?

The fact is that there are plenty of people in the world who think that America is a land of crime and misdemeanour. After all, US law and forensics shows suggest that murder is a central part of day-to-day existence, and even Scooby Doo has a plethora of amusement park owners who would have got away with everything if it wasn’t for some pesky kids. Sometimes though, something happens that just restores your faith in American humankind.

Moving house last week, The Special One and I rented a Zipcar to move our valuables safely from one place to the other. At least that was the theory. In reality what happened was that I got distracted by the fact that we were blocking the entire pavementsidewalk as we unloaded the car, and may have unwittingly left my work bag and expensive camera behind the passenger seat by accident.

(Of course, it could conceivably be argued that The Special One might have considered checking the car when she dropped it back at the car parklot, but when I began considering formulating this admittedly flimsy line of defence, The Special One activated her ‘Don’t Even Think About It’ forcefield, and I dropped the idea with immediate effect.)

With Brit Out Of Water Senior in New York this weekend, and the Zipcar in question seemingly booked out on a near permanent basis since we returned it, I’d kind of given up on ever seeing the bag or camera again. After all, the whole point of this service is that you just rent it for an hour or so at a time, so a dozen or so people could have been in the car since we left it.

As a result, it was a bit of a surprise this morning to find that somebody had been through my bag, found my business card, and left a message for me at work letting me know that she had found my stuff in the car, and had put it in the boottrunk for safety. The car had even been taken for a service by Zipcar all day today, and the items had still remained firmly untouched.

The tragic thing is that the only British experience I have to compare this to is a recent trip to the UK for work. Despite flying British Airways business class, and being the last passenger to leave the weird little upstairs cabin, there was strangely no sign of my brand new iPod when the cleaning staff came to clear the plane shortly afterwards. British Airways didn’t bother responding to my email of complaint, and their lost property agents Excess Baggage denied all responsibility in a terse twenty-word email. Customer service – you can’t beat it.

And yes, I should probably be more careful with my valuable in future. If I have to be on the receiving end of one of The Special One’s unique ’equal measures of disappointment and disbelief’ looks again in the next few months, I might be back in (deep) water before I know it.

Send us victorious

My attempts to immerse myself into American life continue apace. This week, I took The Eldest to his (and mine) first NBA game when we travelled to the ‘world famous’ Madison Square Garden to see the New York Knicks take on the Charlotte Bobcats. To say it was a clash of the titans would be a gross exaggeration. Both sides have lost twice as many games as they’ve won, and languish at the bottom of their respective sections of the leagueconference. It’s like Fulham playing Derby County, only with more armbands and less booting of the ball into row Z.

It’s kind of difficult to take the teams too seriously, given their respective names. The NBA contains Wizards, Timberwolves, SuperSonics, Raptors and Pistons. Call me old fashioned, but I like to see my sports teams with descriptors such as Town, City, United or Rovers. The Knicks’ full title is the New York Knickerbockers. Sure, maybe they trace their moniker back to Dutch settlers and their propensity to wear a specific type of pants, but that doesn’t mean I expect to be watching the Swindon Shell Suits or the Louisiana Legwarmers in years to come.

Actually the game itself was pretty enjoyable, especially given that the Knicks won by almost 25 points. But, like the ice hockey game I saw last year, it has to be said that the occasion was particularly without atmosphere – even a match between Chester and Mansfield, attended by 3000 people or less, can produce more chanting and singing than an NBA game it would seem.

Then again, that’s probably not surprising for a sporting occasion at which vendors walk around selling candy flosscotton candy.

Waiting for the start of the game, I was struck again by the determination of Americans to celebrate their national identity and patriotism. Sure, the person who was wheeled out to sing the national anthem was merely a local radio personality, but she belted it like there were 90 million people watching her at the Super Bowl, and had her fellow Americans whooping and hollering before she’d even got to “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

It’s a mighty contrast to the occasions on which Russell Watson or Hayley Westenra step up at Wembley or Twickenham to sing “God Save The Queen”, where the reaction varies from indifference to contempt. “The Star Spangled Banner” is a rip-roaring barnstormer of a tune in comparison – even an American Idol reject could sing it and get a standing ovation.

Fortunately, Scottish comedian Billy Connolly has got a few ideas about how the British can up their game when it comes to the national anthem. “The Archers” may not mean much to Americans right now, but you’ll all be humming it by the time of London 2012.