Road Trippin Vol. 1: Portland Exposition Building

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PRE GAME:

On Sunday, November 5. I popped my G League cherry, traveling to beautiful Portland, Maine to watch the mighty Maine Red Claws take on the Erie Bayhawks. Going into the game I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never watched a full G League in the past, my main exposure to the league was seeing highlight tapes where former college stars like Manny Harris or Jordan Crawford put on absurd scoring displays. Because of this I expected a healthy dose of clown ball where individual stat padding was encouraged and defense was frowned upon.

Prior to driving up to the game I did a quick scan of the rosters and spotted some names that I recognized and was excited to see. There were two names that especially stuck out to me. You’re probably expecting me to say some 2-Way players like Kadeem Allen or Josh Maggette. Wrong on all counts. I was in the building to see Trey Davis and Jeremy Hollowell.

I was introduced to Trey Davis when I moved to Boston by some of my coworkers who were UMASS alums. Davis averaged 18.7 points in his final year at UMASS but the highlight of his career was his music video “Plug” featuring SkyTheKiid.

An unbelievable video by all accounts. Most D1 athletes don’t have the balls to make a song referencing selling drugs and virtually everything a administration and coaching staff doesn’t want a player to talk about publicly. Trey Davis does.

Davis didn’t hide behind a rapper stage name like Dame Dolla Lillard. He stamped his name on this song, and he did it wearing his full UMASS uniform.

Trey Davis real name, no gimmicks. (shoutout obie trice)

A legendary move. As an Indiana University grad, I can’t imagine the media backlash that would have occurred if someone like Yogi Ferrell made a video like this. Luckily for Trey, UMASS basketball is irrelevant so he can keep the plug on speed dial.

Needless to say, going into the game I was very interested to see if Trey Davis was half as good on the court as he is on the mic.

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As a Class of 2016, IU grad I have a special spot in my heart for Jeremy Hollowell and “The Movement.” On paper, “The Movement” looked like an unbelievable class with a McDonald’s All American Point guard in Yogi Ferrell and three ESPN Top-100 players.

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Unfortunately outside of Yogi, the class was incredibly disappointing with every other player eventually transferring from the school. Like Trey Davis, Hollowell also forayed into music coming out to a song where a local Indianapolis rapper, rapped about him during Indiana’s annual Hoosier Hysteria event.

Hollowell eventually left IU after a failed drug test and transferred to Georgia State. Needless to say I was excited to see him play if he could live up to some of the potential he never lived up to at IU.

THE GAME:

I finally arrive to the beautiful Portland Exposition Building for the game where I’m greeted at the door with the pleasant surprise that the man, the myth, the legend Bronson Arroyo is preforming the halftime show.

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The next surpise. Domestic beers are 6 dollars. Welcome to Portland, ME. Small town feel with big city prices. Odd combo. I’ve been to Indianapolis Indians baseball games before and the one thing I’ve learned is that if you want to put asses in the seats during minor league sporting events you need cheap beer, specifically in the 1-2 dollar range. Luckily for me I’m rich as fuck and have been bankrupting Bovada so I can spare a couple dollars for a Bud Light.

I get to my seats and I’m directly behind the basket. First thing I see is a Jared Sullinger Celtics jersey. For the people keeping score at home I own 4 Sebastian Telfair jerseys so I was naturally excited to see what kind of weird jerseys I was going to see from Red Claws heroes of the past.

The Red Claws had the Special Olympics preform the National Anthem and needless to say it was something. Two seconds in, I’m immediately regretting not filming the song. All I can say is picture 12 kids with down syndrome singing the National Anthem.

The game tips and is relatively uneventful throughout the first quarter. Celtics 2 way player Kadeem Allen was largely underwhelming scoring zero points in the first quarter. Calling the performance lethargic would be a compliment.

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Luckily for Kadeem, the lobster alley was empty so no one had to watch him stink up the place and get stuffed in a body bag by Josh Magette. The second quarter was largely dominated by our boy Trey Davis. He scored 10 points in the second.

Every G League team needs a guy like Trey Davis to provide a spark plug off the bench. Davis will never make the NBA but plays absolute balls to the wall particularly on the defensive end which is refreshing to see in the G League.  His jumpshot form is rather unorthodox pulling up from his hip but is oddly very effective.

Finally, we arrived at the main event, Bronson Arroyo’s halftime show. I’ve seen TLC preform a halftime show at a Pistons game, and all I can say is that Chilli and T-Boz couldn’t hold a candle to the absolute fire flames show Bronson put on for the people. Take a listen:

I walked around the concourse and stopped by the merch stand and was shocked that a Red Claws quarter zip was 70 dollars. Once again, Portland, ME, small town feel-big city prices. I thought I was going to be walking into town like a bandit with pockets full of Boston big city money and rob the place clean.

I was sadly mistaken.

There were two interesting things that happened in the second half.

The first, was that we got to see a Coaches Challenge. The G League is a testing ground for new rules for the NBA. One of which that they are testing out this year is a Coaches Challenge, similar to challenges in the NFL, where coaches can challenge a play on the field where the officials will turn to replay to attempt to overturn the call.

I thought it was interesting to see this applied in basketball, mainly because nowadays everything gets reviewed. Whenever there is an ounce of controversy surrounding a call refs tend to be running to check the monitor rather than going with their gut. I love giving coaches the opportunity to challenge a controversial call like Football and it was interesting to see in real time.

Summary:

Overall, the experience was worth it. I’d highly recommend the G League to anyone who has never attended a game. You get to see high level basketball at a very affordable cost. Who knows you might get lucky and get to see a Bronson Arroyo halftime show.

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