It must have been a helpless feeling for the NBA players at the beginning of this season, which is very likely to end here where I sit, in Oklahoma City. The players must have had this notion of neglect similar to what I have now during "The Finals." Each step I take in any direction is halted by yet another barricaded access point to something that could have some semblance of a good story to take back to Wichita. But inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, the only story is the game. And just like the players prior to December, I can't get near the court.
So here I sit, in a large dining hall lined with long-stretching tables called the "Media Workroom," the purgatory between courtside next to Dwayne, and outside next to Lil Wayne. There are 6 TV's for the journalists who didn't make the cut for media seating, which is at least generous. Posted on all the doors are seating charts for those who did. Here are some organizations that are on this list: BallNRoll.com, Jiji Press, Sohu.com, Turkey Desmart, Ekipa Sports, and of course, Al-Jazeera.
I am aware that the sport is internationally known and it's good to have that media presence here, so I'll understand the shunning on their behalf. But honestly, are there more people in Baghdad concerned about the outcome of Game 2 than in the state of Kansas? I don't know. Maybe that's a dumb question.
I do know the only camera in OKC throughout the Thunder's run to The Finals which has served Kansas specifically has been a KAKE-TV camera. But the moment Sohu.com applies for credentials, KAKE-TV's seat is no longer available. Maybe there is a rhyme and reason to the seating chart, or maybe its done by a sort of lottery. But the international outlets certainly have many more numbers to play, given that they would not travel across the world to be sitting next to me in the workroom next to a plugged in oscillating fan on such a high setting that it goes left to right faster than a Kendrick Perkins crossover.
I may seem bitter. I may seem ungrateful for the fact that I was even let in the building, and that I will (hopefully) be allowed inside the locker rooms to talk to former Jayhawks Nick Collison and Mario Chalmers after the game. I may seem like I'm not elated just to be brushing elbows with ESPN personalities, SNL's Bill Hader, and Heat GM Pat Riley. Even Fabio glanced in my direction tonight, but I managed to dodge his beam of seductive mojo.
But it would be wrong to assume I'm not appreciative, even in my workroom fold-up chair. After all, walking around in the Event Level corridors has way more to give than fumbling over a thousand press writers in the 300 seats. Still, though, I would like to know that at least one seat was available to one single representative of of the Wichita market. The team will be playing a preseason game at Intrust Bank Arena, so I know the organization appreciates its fan base there. Maybe just not during The Finals.
Maybe the Thunder is that friend who sold out in high school to sit at the popular lunch table. Or maybe its just an extremely cultured bunch that reads the trades and backpages of Jiji Press.
Either way, these dang Oklahomans could be a little more neighborly.
Now I'm going to ensure that I am not again strong-armed for being insignifcant by standing outside the locker rooms at the start of the 4th quarter. I'll be first in line, and no one can keep me from being first in the doors.
Dang! Here comes Al-Jazeera...