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Flying Wright: CW Lands in Detroit
Flying Wright: CW Lands in Detroit
Jim "Swampy" Meadows
Published by Swampy Meadows
Flying Wright: CW Lands in Detroit

AUBURN HILLS (MI) -- “From the Swamp” is coming to you today from The Palace of Auburn Hills, where Chris Wright and the Golden State Warriors are set to take on the Detroit Pistons in a late afternoon NBA contest. The Palace is now almost 24 years old, but it is still a tremendous venue in which to watch a basketball game, because unlike many arenas it was built specifically with that purpose in mind.

Mrs. Swampy and I were here for the 2nd event ever held at The Palace, which happened to be a Pink Floyd flying pig extravaganza and it’s every bit as good of a concert venue, too. Besides the music that night, my other lasting memory is of seeing the late Pistons owner Bill Davidson wandering around, admiring his brand new edifice. I wonder if he sang along with the crowd to “Another Brick in the Wall?” Since then I have been to literally dozens of Pistons games, as when I worked at CNN we had primo seats right near Mr. D’s and close to the Pistons bench, one of the side benefits of working for a guy – Ted Turner – who also owned an NBA team.

Speaking of Mr. D, his widow Karen has since sold the team to Flint native Tom Gores, an LA guy who made his money trading equities for a cool $300 million. They obviously won’t be holding any telethons for Mrs. D. Here’s an obscure factoid for you: Karen Davidson is the mother of actress Elizabeth Reaser of Gray’s Anatomy and Twilight fame.

My UD Pride press pass allowed my request for media credentials to be approved, so I will be able to interview Chris before and after the game and I’ll be sitting on press row during it. The doors open two and a half hours before game time, so I had to hit the road around 3:00PM for a 6:00PM tipoff...not that I’m complaining, mind you.

In looking at last night’s box score, CW got to play 5 minutes, scored 1 point, committed 1 turnover and had 1 personal foul in a loss at Charlotte. This is the reality of the 66 game, compressed NBA schedule – play in Charlotte one night and flying to Detroit and doing it all over again the next evening. From here the GSW head to Cleveland, but they don’t face the Cavs until Tuesday. One would hope that there would be a healthy Flyer representation there when Chris and his teammates play at The Q.

It’s really kinda cool being backstage for an NBA game. Everything is done strictly according to the countdown clock to game time, which makes sense as that allows players to establish a set routine. Chris’ mom and Uncle JD will be glad to know that he attended chapel exactly at 5:00PM.

I had a chance to talk to the GSW radio and TV guys in the press room. One of them turned out to be Jim Barnett, the former Celtic, San Diego Rockets and Warriors player. Jim said he hasn’t really had a chance to see Chris practice or scrimmage, as the team never has time for them. Barnett told the story of how he bought Henry Finkel’s car from him when High Henry was traded from San Diego to Boston in 1969. GSW radio guy Tim Rowe said that Chris really made an impression in the exhibition game where he scored six points in limited action. He said the coaches love his energy and that he’s a hard worker.

Chris came out to shoot around and sign autographs for a few UD fans in attendance who were sprinkled in amongst the dozens of autograph hounds who obviously do this just for money.

He worked on his jumper mostly and seemed to interact with Head Coach Mark Jackson very easily. I told him that I had six pages of questions that UD fans had asked on UD Pride and GSW PR guy Dan Martinez said that if I emailed your queries to him he would make sure that Chris answered them.

I asked Coach Jackson about Chris and he said that CW is “a great guy” and “works his tail off.” I told him that he absolutely has to meet Chris’ mom Ernestine Grigsby and Mark said he has heard good things about her and is looking forward to it. He’ll have his chance in Cleveland as she didn’t make the trip to Motown.

After shoot around I had a brief chance to chat with Chris as he headed to chapel. I asked him what was going thru his mind when he entered the game vs. the Lakers and realized he had to cover Kobe Bryant. Chris said “it was a dream come true. I had been pretending to be Kobe in the backyard since I was kid.” Chris said that was when he realized that he had really become an NBA player and he said he is simply blessed to be one.

More than a few empty seats here at The Palace, which at one time had a streak of 200-something consecutive sellouts. The bass in the Pistons intro music reminded me of that Pink Floyd concert 24 years ago and we could feel the heat from the flame throwers that lit up the dark arena during the Pistons’ intro, as they were less than thirty feet away.

The first thing you notice watching NBA players for both squads at this point in time is that they are still not in “season form” let alone mid-season form. The lack of a training camp, a summer league for the rookies and only 2 exhibition games before the schedule kicked off Christmas Day is immediately evident in the sloppy play. The Pistons cheer squad throws T-shirts into the crowd -- “Tees for Three” -- every time a Detroit player hits a three pointer. That would never work at UD Arena as long as Luke is around.

It’s kind of a difficult situation here. I’m basically ‘Waiting for Godot’ more or less, hoping that Chris gets into the game. The Pistons lead at the half 48-44 and Chris has yet to take off his warm-ups.

The good news is that GSW is shooting at the hoop at this end of the floor in the 2nd half, so when Chris does get some PT, I will be able to see him much better. The Pistons came out in the 3rd with lotsa energy, but GSW matched it and took a 56-54 lead with 7:00 to go in the period. They would go on to lead after 3 quarters, 74-69 on a Montae Ellis jumper at the buzzer.

GSW is up 15 with 6:42 remaining -- I’m openly (but quietly) pulling for a blowout!

Then out of nowhere with less than a minute to play there is a dead ball and Mark Jackson gives in to the Flyer Fans yelling “Thirty-three, thirty-three” and he inserts the owner of that particular Warriors jersey into the game. CW gets a couple of touches, barely misses a rebound and the Warriors win 99-91.

After the game, I entered the Warriors locker room and was immediately struck by how tiny it is. Seriously -- the dressing area at the Birmingham Y is bigger than this! Warrior players are all over the place getting dressed, iced and basking in the glow of, for them, a rare victory. CW said it felt great to log some PT and that it was good to get a win. He also confirmed that he definitely heard the UD fans cheering for "Thirty-three" to get into the game. Chris donned his pink “My Little Pony” back pack that, as a rookie, he must wear everywhere he goes on the road and headed for the bus that would take him to the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham for a good night’s sleep.

My only regret is that I forgot to get a picture of him wearing it.

That’s it “From the Swamp.”
You can email me at: swampy@udpride.com
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