Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shabazz Muhammad UCLA vs Long Beach State Game 12-18-12

It was nice to finally come back home. As some of you readers my know UCLA is my alma mater. I graduated from UCLA in 2002 and since that time I haven't been to a UCLA basketball game until today. I was planning on checking out the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion for quite some time. Some of my fondest memories of college happened here and I was excited to finally get a chance to check out the UCLA vs Long Beach State game today. I also came somewhat prepared since I wanted to get some photos signed by Shabazz Muhammad along with Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams.

The game was scheduled to start at 8pm and the doors opened at 7pm. My friend Nick and I got there around 6:45 and decided to pay homage to Coach John Wooden by visiting his statue in front of Pauley Pavilion.

As soon as the doors opened we entered the stadium and took a ton of photos. Here are a few pictures of the newly renovated basketball court.

We had floor level seats four rows behind courside. I took some photos during warm ups of the players.

There was some downtime before tip off so I decided to take some more photos of Pauley Pavilion. UCLA basically made a John Wooden shrine located near the entrance of the stadium. They had walls filled with UCLA and John Wooden memorabilia. They set each exhibit just like they do at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

When we got back to our seats the players came back out for player introductions and more warmups.

The first surprise of the night was running into Dave Winfield. I wasn't prepared for this. From what I know Dave doesn't have any ties to UCLA so I guess he just came out to watch the game. He was sitting two rows ahead of us. Sadly I didn't come prepared. It was painful not to get his autograph but luckily I already own a baseball signed by him. I got his autograph at Angel Stadium two years ago when they had their 50th anniversary celebration.

To make matters worse a few minutes later Jerry West and Oscar Robertson both walked in. I guess the autograph gods were mocking me since I didn't come prepared.

At halftime my buddy Nick and I decided to go over to Jerry and Oscar to hopefully get a photo take with them. Jerry initially took a few photos with UCLA students until security stopped the photo session. I had a one on one with Oscar but he completely ignored my autograph request.

The consolation was that I was able to run into a ton of UCLA alumni tonight. It was good to see old faces again such as Kiki Vandeweghe, Toby Bailey, Tyus Edney, Ryan Hollins, Don MacLean, and Tracy Murray. Too bad I didn't prep for any of these guys either. One cool thing was that both UCLA QB Brett Hundley and RB Johnathan Franklin were in attendance as well. Both guys were really cool and were signing autographs and taking photos with fans. Since I didn't have anything for them I had them both sign a black cardboard sheet for me. I really need to thank both guys for resurrecting our football program.

My first autographs for the day. Next time I need to bring a mini helmet. The good news was that UCLA had full control of the entire game and won 89 to 70. I hope they keep this momentum up. After the game I decided to stick around and wait for the players. They interviewed Shabazz Muhammad so I waited patiently to get his autograph after the interview.

Shabazz was nice enough to sign three photos for me and also took a picture with me as well. Thanks again Shabazz for the photo op and autographs.

Kyle Anderson was the next player to stop and sign for us. Kyle signed my photo and was nice enough to take a photo with me and my friend Nick and well.

"Slow-Mo" is really tall in person. Basically we both look dwarfed standing next to him.

The next two players to sign were the Wear twins. Since I didn't have anything for them to sign I ended up getting both David and Travis Wear to sign a UCLA pocket schedule.

The last player to sign was Jordan Adams. Personally I feel he is the most talented player on the UCLA roster. He's always overshadowed by Shabazz and Slow-Mo but this guy can shoot. Jordan was kind enough to sign a photo for me and also took a photo with me as well.

Overall it was good to be back home.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Floyd "Money" Mayweather Charity Basketball Game 12-16-12

Thanks to a last minute tip from my friend Josh I decided to check out the 8th Annual Watson Celebrity Basketball Game hosted by Floyd "Money" Mayweather.  The game was held at Westchester High School and also featured Adrien "The Problem" Broner and Danny "Swift" Garcia. Admission to the event was $10 or you bring in a toy for their toy drive which made admission free. The game was scheduled to take place at 4pm but it didn't start until 5pm. I went there with the hopes of getting Floyd Mayweather's autograph for the first time along with Adrien Broner's autograph as well. Adrien is the next big thing in boxing and experts are projecting him to become the next Floyd so I really wanted to get his autograph before he becomes a household name.

I arrived at Westchester High School at about 2pm which was about an hour before they let you inside the gym. Surprisingly there was already a large group of about 25 fans waiting outside of the gym to get inside. Every fan waiting there had gloves and photos which meant everyone was there to graph Floyd. This also meant heavy competition. Since Floyd announced the event on his twitter page the event was well publicized so a lot of fans came out to watch Floyd play basketball. Normally I like to go to these events early to check out the area and also to see if I could get autographs of players coming in prior to the game.

There wasn't much action going on pregame so I decided to walk into the gym when the gates opened. It was also cold and rainy outside so I was happy to be inside the gym.

By the time the game started the entire gym was filled. I'd say there were at least 500 people inside and half of them being graphers. I knew this day was going to be tough. Everyone had a duffel bag full of gloves and photos so I expected the worst. What made matters worse was that we were just sitting inside the gym until 5pm. The game started an hour late as expected since these charity games never start on time. My buddy Larry and I were getting really annoyed by that.

There actually weren't that many celebrities that I recognized at the game. Most of the so called "celebrities" were actually music and move producers. The surprise guest was Sugar Shane Mosley who also played in the game and Olden Polynice who coached Floyd's team. The only singer I recognized who didn't play but showed up to watch the game was Brandy's brother Ray J who is now known more for his home videos with Kim Kardashian.

Do you see the mob surrounding Floyd in the picture above? Well that summed up the entire night. There was always four security guards that surrounded Floyd at all times. Floyd was really nice about signing but as soon as he started to sign the guards would cut everyone off.

I decided to change my game plan and go after Shane Mosley and Adrien Broner instead. I figured most fans would try to get Floyd all night and I didn't want to leave the event empty handed without an autograph. I really hate striking out. At halftime I decided to approach Sugar Shane for an autograph. Shane was nice enough to sign both pairs of gloves for me even though one of his handlers were telling him not to sign while he was in the middle of signing my gloves. I swear I hate mean handlers and even organizers. They ruin it for all the fans. I say if the athlete or celebrity wants to sign then let them sign for their fans and stop meddling in their business. Thanks Shane for ignoring your handler and signing these gloves for me.

I tried taking some photos of Floyd but they all came out blurry. There was too much chaos going on at this event. The last thing I was thinking about was taking more photos.

After the game chaos ensued as all of fans stormed the court and ended up mobbing Floyd Mayweather. Immediately his security guards were pushing people away as Floyd began to sign autographs. This was pretty much the most chaos i've ever dealt with when graphing as people were pushing and shoving each other. Miraculously Floyd ended up grabbing my glove and signed it for me. As he was handing it back he almost accidentally gave my glove away to another fan. I had to yell over the guards to let Floyd know that the glove was mine. It was flat out chaos. As soon as I got my glove back I stored it in my backpack.

Afterwards I noticed there was also a crowd forming around Adrien "The Problem" Broner. Luckily I was able to get him to sign both gloves for me and he was nice enough to inscribe "The Problem" on one of the gloves.

Overall it was a great day of graphing boxing even though the environment was chaotic. I want to thank Floyd Mayweather for hosting this event and also Shane Mosley and Adrien Broner for being so cool about signing for the fans.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Josh Hamilton Press Conference 12-15-12

Today was another historic day of graphing in Anaheim. The Angels recently signed Josh Hamilton and they were hosting a press conference at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney at 11:30am. Fans were not allowed inside the press conference but the Angels encouraged fans to come out to support Josh Hamilton on their website. Since I never got Josh Hamilton's autograph in person before I decided to try my luck and head out to the event. Hopefully i'd get lucky today like last winter when I was able to get Albert Pujols at his press conference. I arrived at around 8am.

There were about 20 fans already waiting outside of ESPN Zone. I ran into the usual graphers including Scotty, Tyler, Jose, Joe, and Kyle who are regulars at Angel Stadium so it was a nice reunion to see them again during the off season. There wasn't much action going on and the staff of the ESPN Zone were setting up the event. Benson arrived shortly afterwards which was a surprise since I didn't expect him to be graphing today since he is sick with the flu. It's always nice to graph with friends since there is a lot of downtime when graphing and time passes by much faster when you are chilling with friends.

We knew the press conference was official when we saw an employee from the Angels bring in Josh Hamilton's Angel jersey.

I need to buy an Authentic Hamilton Angels jersey one day. Josh arrived early at around 10:30am. He stopped for one fan who is actually an artist and signed for him. My buddy Kyle Morrisey created another masterpiece painting for Josh which caught Josh's attention. He stopped and signed for Kyle.

Josh promised us that he would sign for us later and walked inside ESPN Zone. We expected him to sign after the press conference but he came back out after five minutes and signed down the line posing for pictures and interacting with fans. He literally signed for about 20 minutes signing multiple items for everyone. My buddy Tyler ended up getting 8 cards signed and anyone who gave him cards got their entire sheet of cards signed. Since I never got his autograph before I ended up getting a baseball signed.

My first signature came out a bit sloppy. I guess Josh was a bit confused when he was inscribing the bible verse 2 Peter 3:18 since he wrote 1 Peter 3:28. He scribbed it off then wrote over his mistake as you can see from my baseball. I wonder if he had a mental lapse there or just flat out forgot.

I guess that gives the ball some character but condition is everything to me so I ended up getting a second baseball signed by Josh. Josh was cool about it since he knew most of the fans were double and even triple dipping at this time. He'd make the remark "didn't get get you before" with a smirk and a laugh and if u were honest with him he was cool about signing another item.

Here is a picture of the second baseball I got signed. It looks much better than the first one with the scribbles.

Afterwards he went inside as the press conference started. Other notable Angels in attendance were Jerry Dipoto, Mike Scioscia, Mark Langston and Bobby Grich. Surprisingly none of the current player showed up. We expected some of the current players to show up to support Josh but surprisingly they didn't.

We waited outside until about 1:30 and few of the members of the Angels organization were leaving including Arte Moreno and Mike Scioscia. We got tired of waiting and were getting hungry so Benson and I ended up getting lunch at Earl of Sandwich which possibly has the best tuna melt sandwich in the world. We were content on getting our autographs today so we didn't want to wait any longer for Josh since we didn't expect him to sign again coming out since he signed for at least 100 fans before the press conference.

At about 2pm we left and headed back toward ESPN Zone to check if any fans were still waiting for Josh Hamilton. As we walked toward ESPN Zone we noticed that Josh Hamilton was signing again and there was larger crowd this time filled with fans who missed out on him in the morning and also the fans who stayed back to get more autographs.

I decided to get my 2010 All Star Louisville Slugger bat signed. The crowd was larger than what it was in the morning. Luckily my friends Laurie and her son Noah had really good positioning. I handed Laurie my bat and she ended up getting my bat signed for me. Josh ended up signing their items plus my bat for me as well. Thanks again Laurie and Noah for helping me get my bat signed.

Here are some photos of Josh interacting with the fans along with Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia.

The last item I got signed today was my 2012 All Star Baseball. Josh was nice enough to sign the baseball underneath the All Star logo.

Overall it was a great day of graphing. It feels good to graph again since I haven't graphed in a long time but it was also nice to take a break too. I decided to display my newly signed baseball and bat in the bat case I bought at Michael's.

I want to thank the Angels for hosting another great event and also Josh Hamilton for being so gracious and kind with all of his fans. Josh Hamilton is one of the nicest athletes you will ever meet and I hope he has an MVP caliber season next year for the Halos.