Entry #1093
12:01 AM, November 9th 2010:
15 Years Ago Today...
Quite often we don't realize the significance of moments until well afterwards. Decades even. You look back and it suddenly seems legendary. A picture you took then, is now suddenly miraculous...
...and then there are moments that feel like you're watching them 15 years later, while they're happening. I think my friend Jeff said it best the night I drove back from Cleveland: "You just had a beer with Babe Ruth." The significance of this was understood every single second it was happening.
It's the thing about Jordan that is impossible to explain to kids that never saw him play. It wasn't like LeBron and Kobe where there was a debate. He was absolutely bigger than life and I got to sit in the lockeroom with him (on two occassions, actually) and videotape the entire thing. I watched the game on the court...and videotaped the entire thing. I then edited it together with 2 VCR's...
...and left it in my closet, for 15 years. Because at the time? There was nothing I could do with it. I snuck my camera in (something they caught the second time I tried the following year) so I certainly wasn't selling the footage. But what I got is almost unbelieveable. I knew that then. What I didn't realize then however, was that when this amazing invention called "the internet" became more common than the television? I would be able to share this footage with the world - and bring unbridled joy to those that found it. It is remarkably rare footage that no one has ever seen (seriously, 4 or 5 people in 1995?) until I uploaded it on YouTube. Sit back, and enjoy every damn moment of this...
Whew. I have to admit, watching that 15 years later? Just may be a bit more special than I thought it would be. Only because I had the wherewithall to actually edit that piece... FOR NO FUCKING REASON. You know? Welcome to the story of my life. Unparallelled time spent putting things together, that virtually no one will ever see. I guess it's just in the blood. I like creating stories.
There's actually a LOT more to the story than what's in the video, and thankfully - I actually kept a journal back then for all of my WTVN stuff - and it's actually part of The Journey (Man it's just occurring to me how much of my life is so public and so detailed online. 15 of 35 years. That's... <shakes head> Anyway... I have to share the story, exactly as I wrote it, a few weeks out of my teens. It's poorly written, but goddamn it's sincere. I adore this story.
I leave around 2:20 PM and get to the arena at 4:30. I wait for an hour, meanwhile people are going in with permanent passes and I'm just praying that nothing goes wrong. The cops were nice and funny...and then I heard Rodman was injured! Rumor though. Finally the guy gets there at 5:35. I get the pass and as I'm walking away I read it:
"Admit bearer to Gund Arena, Press Row, Press Room, and Locker Rooms"
OH. MY. GOD. I've done it. I'm in. I finally find my way downstairs and find the visitors locker room. I'm very cool, collected. The police guy says the team's not there yet. JESUS! Have I come early enough or what? Then I see Phil Jackson in this Gangster suit and hat...very cool. My heart starts to race. Then Paxson, then Buechler... then Michael Jordan. I can only imagine the look on my face as I swallowed and stopped breathing. Nice suit, listening to his discman, he glances at me and walks in. Once everyne else got in, I asked the guard if I could go in. He said fine... so I walked in.
The room in front of me was the locker room, and to my left is the tinytraining room. I found out later it's all a circle. I see Jerry Krause, Paxson and someone else. I was gonna just walk through and Jerry yells at me:
I show him my slip and he screams: "6:15!!!". It says this nowhere on the slip, but it is indeed 5:45. I just said "sorry, I lost track of the time" and I just walk into the locker roon and he screams "NOOOOO" again. He was such an asshole but inside I was laughing...as any Bulls fan would be. You hear so many stories about him being a prick.
So I walk out and the cop says:  "Might as well get some food while you're waiting..."  Hell yeah!  Free food!
After wandering around for awhile I finally find the food place where the media eats. Goddamn! Steak, fried chicken, salad, corn, mashed potatoes, big ol' hot dogs, all the Diet Coke I could drink... I was in total shock. So I sit down to eat and I see Johnny "Red" Kerr and Wayne Lerivee. Both nice guy. Then Paxon walks in and comes up to me and says:
"Sorry about my General Manager"
"Oh Jerry?  No big deal man, I was early"
"Yeah, but he didn't have to say it like that."
"Well then...could you sign an autograph?"
"Sure..." and he proceeded! John Paxson! The winner of the 3rd Championship!!! HELL YEAH!! Then Stumpy McKrause comes in and as John was going to sit at my table Jerry pointed him as far away from me as possible. Bastard. Then Phil Jackson joined them. Then a black guy named Greg Miles? I think he sat with me and we talked. He told me how Jordan was approachable and a good guy. Greg was nice. I looked at my watch and it was 6:05 so I booked. Since Jerry was eating he couldn't get me. SO the cop let me in again, and there was Jordan listening to his discman in one ear and listening to that one irritating broadcaster from NBC in the other. God what's his name... Jim something. Jim Grey.
You know how they say slow motion? It was slow motion. The air actually felt different as I entered the room Jordan was in. It was absolutely unimaginable that he was just chilling there and he was absolutely larger than life. I slowly pulled up a chair and sat next to him and Michael Jordan, Jim Grey and I talked...
...for 45 minutes. About everything. One of the first words I heard him say was "Fuck" and it was like being in the Twilight Zone. Every topic comes up. In particular the Browns as they just announced they
're leaving. It was crazy Michael and I thought Modell was doing what he had to do, but everyone else thought no. Luckily I said my point before MJ and it was he and I talking with Jim and one other guy I didn't recognize. Michael said:
"He'd been asking for a new stadium since, what 1988? Hell, the man's broke..." then I jump in...
"Yeah, '89 and what goes up in that time? Gund Arena, Jacobs Field..." and Michael points to me: "Yeah, and what's that other thing?" I jump in again:
"Rock and Roll Hall of Fame"
I realize this may not mean something to you but you do realize that when I say Michael, I'm talking about MICHAEL FUCKING JORDAN right? Ok, back to all this.
So I asked him why this doesn't happen in the NBA and he said:
"Stern's a better commissioner, he has more clout...and the owners would never approve the move."
Then all the reporters give their two cents. We just shot the shit about everything. Quinn Buckner comes in and sits between me and Jordan. They're laughing and talking about other plays. Get this - Jordan turns and bets Quinn $100 on Glenn Robinson having a breakout season now that he's with the Bucks. ?!?!?! Did we all really want to hear him betting on the NBA? I spoke up and said:  "Vin Baker is the man on that team" and Jordan looked at me like I had made fun of his children. That was the last thing I spoke up about. Heh. Anywy - he was really loose with Quinn and it was great hearing them laugh and carry on. Then Mike handed him his discman and I commented on how skinny it was. And I mean skinny. Skinnier than 2 CD cases together. MJ goes: "Yeah, some japanese guy gave it to me at the beginning of the season, " he smiled "I said thank you..." We laughed. I alway wondered what Jordan listened to... There was Silk and some other black groups. I picked up the plastic covering of one and kept it.
Now one of the PR guys said no cameras or autographs allowed, but he didn't check my camcorder. So we talk a little more and when another reporter jumps in to interview I figure I should try and get my camcorder out. The batteries weren't charged when I got them, which blew my mind, but I got an adapter. Plugged it in bext to Jordan's CD adapter and started taping. Jordan didn't even mind! So I taped for awhile. I taped Scottie in the training room drinking gatorade and getting taped...then back to Jordan for awhile. After about 5 minutes I stopped, it just felt rude. Like you're talking with friends and then some dork gets out a camcorder and starts taping you. I had to do it so people believed I was there. The trainer said at around 6:50 that we had to leave. I unbottoned my shirt, which held my Jordan Jersey underneath and as he was walking to the training room I asked him to sign it.
"You're with the press man, you could lose your job, you could lose your stripes for this," he said as he was...
Listen, I felt kind of bad that Jordan somehow thought less of me, but you have to be kidding. Babe Ruth just signed my jersey. Lose my stripes? Hell, will I ever get this opportunity as long as I live? Worth the risk MJ. Sorry if you think I'm a dick.
I left quickly and showed the cop who was grinning from ear to ear. Unfortunately t PR guy saw it and said "Oh, pretty good, real respectful". Whatever man. I did what I had to do.
So onto my next adventure, the court. I walk out on the court and look for a place to set up. I decide I want to be where all the camera guys. So in front of the Bulls bench I sit down and wait. I left my stuff and ran up to the third level where Burg and my dad was and take off my Jersey and give it to her so I don't have to mess with it. I cannot tell you what kind of awe they were both in. Then I run down and check my batteris and sure enough, they're completely drained. For the next 15 minutes I look frantically for an on-court outlet, then..during WARM-ups right before the game, I find one and was able to borrow an extension cord from the Bulls photograher. Whew - absolute disaster avoided.
I finally get everying set-up and some guy who's shooting pictures asks me if I knew that it was illegal to have a camcorder in the arena and I said I was only using it for sound. Not sure if he bought it, but it's not like he was gonna call security over. The game started and I was set.
I got a great deal of the game - both in black and white letterboxed and in color. The black and white looks so much like film with this shutter effect. I went back and forth with my still camera and video and used all my film up before halftime as they were closer, then I ran that up to my dad. One less thing to worry about. Videotaping was one of the most strenuous things I've ever done. I had to hide it in between my legs and put my head down in order to do it and keeping a good level shot was nearly impossible - but I got some doozies.
The game was great...I guess - I was so busy concentrating on my shots I paid no attention. Jordan ended up with 29 on a barrage of 3's and they won by 19. I really got some great shots. I even got Jordan pointing to a beligerant fan (thesauruses rock) and telling him to "Shhhhhh" as he had 23 in the 2nd half and just destroyed the Cavs. When the game ended I packed up quick and headed for the locker room.
CONSIDERABLY more crowded this time. I ended up standing on a stool and recording the whole thing. Jordan said:
"My man, my man - you're on my cord."
I picked up my stool and then I asked him if he wanted his adapter...he said yah and I handed it to him. Afterwards the reporters stated asking him things I got up the nerve. I asked Jordan, if now that they won 4 straight are then even thinking 66 more for the record (No one's ever hit 70). He said, "One game at a time...we still have a lot to learn as a team. We're not rushing the record, one game at a time." I finally stopped taping and more reporters kept asking him for his autograph...
"You guys are at work! Shouldn't you be working." He said, somewhat joking. You know, y'd think Cleveland wasn't the only place this happened.
I shook his hand and said thank you for signature, "Alright my man". I'm just now realizing how cool this really is. This is incredible.
On my way out I went up to Pippen and shook his hand. I said I didn't want to bother him with a signature, and I just wanted to say hi. Jason Caffey was sitting next to him and I said I was impressed. He was doing really well as a rookie. I left and then realized I could have stayed but didn't want to go back in for nothing. I ran into Dan Majerle and I wished I 'd had one of my friends rookie cards but Bruce never rembered to get it to me.
So I waited outside and watched him talk to all these people he knew. Old friends, joking and laughing. It was just crazy. I ended up having to leave the same way Jordan was leaving. It was incredible...I was actually following him out. I'm right behind him as he's walking outside through this GIANT hall of people. RIGHT behind him. The crowd was going NUTS. Insane. Holding shoes, paper, cards, pictures...and I was right behind him the entire time. I got my first real feeling of fame and it was the coolest thing I've ever felt. Christ, I almost got on the bus, but I just turned and went to my car. And then suddenly hat was it. The fame that I was with disappeared, the crowd stopped...and I was Adam again...
It kind of sucked.
I met Quinn Buckner again on the elevator in the parking garage and said: "See you April..." (the next Bulls-Cavs game, I am there).
So that was it. The best day of my life. I actually flunked a test for this but DEAR LORD was it worth it. I met, joked with, took video of, shook hands with, got an autograph from Michael Jordan. THE Michael Jordan. This will be a fun story to tell tomorrow...hell I'll just read this on the air!
Simply awesome. That part about standing behind him as he got on the bus? Just, that will never leave me. It was life changing for me.
Now I uploaded the video awhile back, right when YouTube upped their time limit from 10 to 15 minutes. I shaved off 3 minutes from the video and was able to fit everything in. I have been asked if I have any more footage and honestly, that's the best stuff. I do however have some pictures no one has seen. I have the framed signed jersey, I have one of his towels, I'd like to put a companion piece together for everyone who has been asking for more stuff. I also want people to realize I sound different than I did 15 years ago. I had a bit of "radio" on my voice at 19/20 that makes me wince. But, I mean hey - I was on talk radio at the time. I had to make up for being FREAKING 19 and on talk radio. :-)
But I wanted to get this up to commemorate that magical day 15 years ago and share the story for those that certainly aren't going to go back and read THE 90'S portions of The Journey. It's a bit to ask. Heh.
What a video. Wow.