Monday, July 7

A legendary gaming experience

Yesterday, I made the pilgrimage to Mohegan Sun to see the WNBA up close and personal. It was my first live game of the season and my first trip to a casino -- ever. I was a little unsure of how the place would hit me, but I have an odd fondness for the seedy side of life, so I was excited for both the casino and the game. When my two-hour drive was over and I pulled into the Indian Summer Garage, I was a little taken aback. First, it didn't seem seedy at all. Where were the men with greasy hair and desperate women with dark roots? There were families and old ladies wearing socks with their sandals, and there was a lot of ... faux wood. It was huge: It wasn't a casino, it was a compound. There were, in fact, two casinos (Casino of the Sky and Casino of the Earth) with the arena in between. There were shops and restaurants and a hotel and an extensive water feature which went "underground" and ended in a dramatic waterfall. You could easily live there and never have to see the outside world again. There was a constant high-pitched hum that drove my friend crazy and just had me perplexed. I thought it was supposed to be mystical and somehow calming -- you know, as opposed to the soothing sounds of slot machines. My friend thought the best feature was the ability to walk around the entire compound drinking and smoking freely. You could get a beer at the food court (excuse me, that would be the Rising Moon Gallery of Eateries), and my friend did. We checked out the tables, but it seemed to me that you gave them money, they gave you cards, and then they kept your money and you had to return the cards. We lost a quarter at the slot machines and that was enough of that. Game time.

When we picked up our tickets at the box office, I turned around, and there she was. "Ohmygod, that's Crystal Robinson." My friend replied, "Who?" I had a lot to teach her about the Liberty. We went inside, got a nifty free Connecticut Sun sand pail and shovel, and took our seats (the arena isn't that big, so we were pretty close to the action). I made with a lot of pointing at the players, that's T'Spoon, that's Robinson, the girl all in white is Becky Hammon, etc. She decided she was going to root for the home team since I was clearly not a supporter. And not that I blame her entirely, but the Liberty lost, despite being in the lead for most of the game. NY's Tari Phillips had an amazing game with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the Sun's Taj McWilliams-Franklin was matching her almost point for point. NY's Elena Baranova earned my friend's attention, so I don't consider the game a complete loss. Somehow, my friend talked me into hanging around after the match to try to see the players as they left (okay, so she didn't have to try too hard). Our first foray into stalking was a success, as we got to see Baranova as she left. 6'5 isn't as towering as I thought it would be, but, man, her legs went on forever. She and the other players were fabulous, signing shirts and posing for pictures with the fans. We didn't ask for autographs or pictures. I think we just wanted to see them up close and remind ourselves that they were just real people who happen to play amazing basketball.

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