At the beginning of February, I traveled to Indianapolis with two other junior officers for an ASCE conference for many of the student chapters from colleges all along the east coast. When I first sat down at the table I was assigned, we all introduced ourselves and started chatting. Everyone was asking what they were doing at night, which was the only free time we had during the two day conference. Most schools had signed up for a social event hosted by ASCE involving arcade and laser tag but we were late registering for it. One of the guys at my table casually mentioned the Pacers basketball game that he heard a few people were going to. I didn’t think much of it until I looked up who they were playing, the Portland Trailblazers. Well, everyone at Lehigh knows that CJ McCollum plays for the Blazers and when I mentioned the game to the two other officers, they said we had to go. It was perfect; the game began at 7:30pm, the last meeting for the day ended at 6:30, the arena was just four blocks from our hotel, and tickets were only $12! So it was around 4:30 and I’m sitting in the middle of a presentation putting my credit card information into my phone to buy the tickets. In our 15 minute break, I rushed to the computer room to print them out and after the banquet dinner was over, we changed and headed out.
We arrived a little before tip-off and got to walk around the arena for a few minutes. Whenever I go to a different sports venue, I like to study and take note of the layout and structure (typical civE) because each is so unique. The Bankers Life Fieldhouse where the Indiana Pacers play was like no other arena I’ve seen, probably because it is strictly for basketball and not hockey and lacrosse as well. The main entrance was a massive foyer on the side which then wrapped around the court area. It was all condensed and the upper level balcony stands were steep, extending into the rafters. Our seats were pretty high up of course but had a great view and angle.
The fieldhouse filled up quickly and was fully attended, about 18,000. The Pacers at the point were 23-2 at home, great defensively and the best team in the Eastern Conference. Portland was riding the end of its hot streak and was still the top team in the West as well as the highest scoring team in the NBA, so it was a prime matchup. The Blazers got up by 11 quickly so the first half was kind of quiet until the Pacers rallied back to even the game out. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter where the crowd really got into the game (pretty much the case for the sport of basketball). Of course we were cheering for the Blazers though. CJ had already played around 14 minutes and was 4/4 shooting with 9 points and an assist and rebound. It went back and forth the last few minutes as everyone was on their feet. I think George Hill on the Pacers hit a huge three to tie the game with 8.4 seconds left. During a Portland timeout, CJ was put into the game hopefully to make the game winning shot. I knew they would try to get him the ball on the inbound because he was hot all game, but Indiana covered him well and the inbound went to someone else who missed the shot. Still, the game went into overtime! Though the Pacers pulled away in OT with the help of the crowd, it was an unbelievable and very memorable first NBA game for me.
Some pictures I took from our seats throughout the game and a youtube video of the highlights: