Keith Dyson appreciates a good basketball game. He loves the little boys even more. Therefore, Dyson appeared on Saturday afternoon at the box office of the Entertainment and Sports Arena. Before the first Capital Go-Go game, he chose two places in the back row of Section 105 for himself and his son.
"I wanted to check the G-League team," Dyson said explaining his early bird purchase. "Besides, I like outsiders."
Minor League basketball in Ward 8 on an absolutely good Saturday night? For Dyson and the announced amount of 2,383 – including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver – this would be a yes, please. The fans played in their brand new squares after the go-go rhythms played during the break, and in the fourth quarter when the DJ flicked a piece of junk yard tape, even after the end of the music, the refrain "SArdines! Hello! And pork and beans! " was sung throughout the arena a cappella.
During the survival of 107-105 against Greensboro Swarm, Capital City was heavily under his nickname – Go-Go music legends were recognized at halftime – and the team's first fans took their time as sports pioneers.
"I mean, it has to be a great fan," Go-Go coach Jarell Christian said, predicting what kind of fan he'd expected on his debut. "I know that D.C. loves their sports teams. D.C. is known for their high school basketball, so I imagine we'll have some basketball people who know which list we have. We have a lot of local flair here. "
However, Gabriel Klingman was not exactly the "super fan" type.
"To be perfectly honest, I got a free pass," the 27-year-old said, explaining why he had taken the Green Line to the Congress Heights.
Klingman's first live basketball game in about 15 years was provided by his friend Kushal Ismael, a DC homer.
"I was really excited to be building a new arena here and the Mystics will be playing here and we're getting a new team," Ismael said as he watched the first half of the corner section at 109.
Ishmael identified himself as D.C. He even wore a hat with the logo of the Washington Valor, the city's arena football team. Although Ismael puts the lowest rank of the four major professional sports in the limelight, he considers the first game of Go-Go to be another day in the "best sports year" of D.C's history.
"The caps won the trophy. Wayne Rooney to [D.C. United], We hosted it [MLB] All-Star Game. Mystique in the final, "said Ismael, marking the biggest sports headline of 2018. Ismael now adds his first go-go game to the list.
"That was really exciting for me. I wanted to be here, "he said. "It's cool to see smaller leagues."
The 4000-seat arena offers an intimate atmosphere. Events DC operates the arena and puts it with the slogan "So Close" as a selling point. Some fans used the proximity.
Devonte Graham, point guard of Greensboro Swarms, received hair care tips.
"No. 4, you need a choice!" Shouted a fan.
Officials could immediately hear feedback about their calls.
"What was that, 28?" Another man yelled at referee Nate Anderson.
When the fan, the same one who had previously annoyed Graham's woolly haircut, called the official Angelica Suffren "garbage", she did not answer. A swarm player on the bench turned and stared.
"You too garbage!" Barked the fan.
To which the player replied: "Sit down your big butt!"
So close, indeed.
Silver decided to sit among the people before leaving the final buzzer far behind. Silver visited the game at the invitation of Ted Leonsis, the majority owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and made a tour of the arena and practice facility prior to departure. Silver described the integration of the three teams (Wizards, Mystics and Go-Go) as "almost the most exciting project currently in the league."
For a fan like Dyson, who pursues players who are pursuing an elusive goal, that excitement crystallized on the court.
"[Few] of these guys have been drafted. They are looking for their dreams, so they play in the G League to make it into the NBA, "said Dyson. "I played in a Division III school, so I'm always the outsider."
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