After watching hundreds of NBA games on ESPN and seeing highlight reels on House of Highlights, being in the actual arena and experiencing the game in first person felt totally different.
When I arrived at the State Farm Arena, it was exciting and thrilling as I journeyed through the marvelous infrastructure of the arena building. I was greeted with music and people walking in every direction. Following all the small entertainments and gift shops, the smell of delicious food filled the air as we walked near the various food shops offering game treats such as nachos and fries.
Entering the actual basketball court was an entirely new experience as I felt minuscule compared to the hundreds of seats that filled up the arena from the floor to the ceiling. As someone who regularly only sees the games on television or through highlights on YouTube, the in-person game experience was totally different even though I was watching the same thing. Our seats were far up in the stands, but it was still exhilarating to know that I was in the same building as these NBA players such as Atlanta Hawks Trae Young, Vince Carter, and Jabari Parker.
Watching all the moments of Trae’s handles and Parker’s layups felt surreal as the Hawks fans in the arena burst out into cheers every time a point was made. It was also interesting to experience other small events during the game such as the breaks they take during timeouts and quarter breaks. The t-shirts and other small items they throw out into the crowd and the fan moments such as the Kiss Cam and dancing videos were also quite enjoyable. The t-shirt cannons and the “Make Some Noise” chants also enlivened the crowd as the players discuss their plays during timeouts, so it never became boring for the fans.
As the game ended, the Atlanta Hawks eventually lost to the Indiana Pacers by 10 points, but it was still and enjoyable moment for all the fans. Special thanks to Maurice Garland who is a VOX staff member who took us to the game and Jabari Parker who was generous enough to donate tickets and free t-shirts to us.