Apr 12

My Night as the Verizon Scorekeeper

By BallDontLie Posted in: Blazers, Rockets

What I learned during my time as Verizon Scorekeeper was that Sarah Hecht is always on the move. There were moments where we were able to sit, but I can say that I’ve never covered that much ground inside the Rose Garden on any given night. 

When I met Sarah, she had just got back from literally running to get her phone from her car. Right before our tour she was called in to a meeting with the new team President. Sarah told me how excited everyone was to meet him and learn his plans for the future of the organization. We then go through the labyrinth that is the Trail Blazers offices. You can tell by the number of offices and cubicles, it takes a large team to make sure things run smoothly at the RG.

Sarah lays out a very succinct schedule during dinner. There is a checklist about a mile long of things she needs to do before the game time, let alone her duties during the game. We head out through the concourse toward the court. I spot Bill Schonely and it takes everything in my power not to blurt out “RIIIIIIIIP CITY!” in order to not embarrass my gracious host.  We walk onto the court and meet up with Orlando Williams (Duck Alum, shout out to U of O), who is talking with Dwight Jaynes. Again, holding back from belting out “GOD-FATHER” and having Sarah regret bringing me behind the scenes.

We sit down courtside on the Blazer bench and Sarah hands me the Verizon Wireless Tablet to document the rest of the night. Damian, Joel and Meyers are warming up. Damian is shooting closest to me and I notice that he’s wearing a pair of Adidas that one of his fans designed for him through his Twitter contest. It’s amazing how quickly this kid is endearing himself to the Portland fanbase. But playing like the Rookie of the Year will do that for you.

Sarah and I walk up to where they are filming the Pre-Game Jump. She gets a message that Damian has won his fifth consecutive Rookie of the Month award, joining the likes of LeBron James, Tim Duncan and David Robinson. I get to see how the show is put together and then before I knew it, they had already started filming.

As Sarah and Orland are doing the show, I go closer to the court and check out the happenings.  It is insane how many different pre-game shows are taking place. We have Mike and Mike courtside, Jordan Kent (another Duck Alum) with Comcast underneath the Blazers basket, and Dwight Jaynes across the court.  On top of that ESPN is also covering tonight’s game, so it is a full house.

I hear a loud eruption of cheers and look over to the opposing side of the court to see Jeremy Lin entering the court. James Hardin comes out shortly after with a beard that has reached evil villain status.  Not a big fan of his, as I recall him torching the Ducks when he played at Arizona State.  On a brighter note, I did spot newly acquired Rocket, Aaron Brooks (last Duck reference I promise), who was pulled from the sinking ship that is the Sacramento Kings or soon to be Seattle Sonics. The cheerleaders take center court and begin practicing. Luke's attention is temporarily diverted. 

Back to the action. LaMarcus finally comes out on the floor, having missed the last 4 games. Perfect timing to come back as Nicolas would be out for this game. LaMarcus and Caleb Kanales begin practicing pick and pop shooting drills. They seem to have a great chemistry, which is a testament to Kanales work with the team.

After the Pre-Game Jump wraps up Sarah and I run to the concourse to join Adam Bjaranson and Michael Holton. Sarah steps into to the broadcast to share some tweets and perspective. Something that I’ve been noticing this entire time is that Sarah is jumping in between her phone, tablet and laptop updating the various social media pages and Blazers site. She is seamlessly juggling multiple accounts and making sure that everyone is in the loop. I cannot imagine the pressure this creates, I can't even get one text off to a friend without having a misspelling or monumentally embarrassing auto-correct flub, yet she is cranking out these updates flawlessly.

The game is about to start and we take our seat in the media section to watch the game. LaMarcus starts out on fire and things look hopeful.  There is a large contingent of Lin fans in the building, cheering on his every move. I do have to admit, that kid is talented.  Couple of great alley-oop dunks by the Blazers bring the crowd to their feet. Blazers go on a run to keep the game close at halftime.

The Rockets definitely took off in the second half.  After the third quarter, Sarah has to go back to the concourse to finish her routine, so I stay behind to watch the rest of the game and hold out hope for chalupas. Freeland has a chance in the final seconds to get to 100, but alas, the shot was off.

Harden, again, torched one of my favorite teams. Linsanity was in full force. There were a few shining moments in the game: L-Train, Sarah’s Pick to Click, dominated with 32 points and 13 boards. Will Barton had a really solid all-around game, foreshadowing the performance he would have in a few days against Dallas. 

We didn’t get chalupas or a win, but I did have a great time seeing the game from a perspective I never thought I’d get to experience. Thanks to Sarah Hecht, the Trail Blazers and Verizon Wireless for making this possible. 


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