The LeBron Tax

LeBron tax

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

I blame the New Year’s day email from StubHub.

It was an email enabling me a 10% discount for tickets bought either on that day or within the next few days. I don’t quite remember. What the email gave me was a reason to check out StubHub that morning. I knew that the Cavaliers were coming to town and the kids hadn’t yet seen LeBron James in person. But I also knew that with LeBron comes the LeBron tax.

Since LeBron only comes once a year, you pay quite the premium to see him, especially on the secondary market. I imagine it’s only that way with Kobe and LeBron.

Because of the discount, I decided to peruse the website to see what the Warriors/Cavs tickets were going for. After using StubHub to buy World Series tickets, I knew it was going to be ugly. It wasn’t World Series ugly, but it was still ugly.

It’s also harder buying three tickets than two or even four. So our options were limited. What else limits our options? We’re kind of spoiled. After seeing so many Warriors games over the years and having connections to great seats, it’s hard to sit in the second deck.

I finally pulled the trigger after about 30 minutes of debate and my plan was not to tell the kids a thing.

About an hour after I bought the tickets, the Cavaliers announced that James was going to take two weeks off to rest injuries. I hadn’t heard the news myself until my uncle told me at our New Year’s day party. I thought he was joking because I just told him I picked up the tickets. A few swipes on Twitter told me it was true.

Fast forward eight days and I kept the tickets. I’m sure I could’ve immediately put them back on StubHub and sold them for close to what I paid for them (since many people wouldn’t have known the news yet), but I don’t roll that way and going to a Warriors game is still the thing to do in the Bay Area, especially this season.

And yet, the kids still didn’t know. I told them we’d be doing something fun on Friday, but to them, fun is playing video games all night online with their friends. Come Friday, they tried to get it out of me, but to no avail. But they played a little different strategy. They just weren’t all that excited. I had to tell them that we were traveling a bit since Oakland is a good hour and a half away from Gilroy. And to make sure we didn’t get stuck in terrible traffic, we left about four hours early so we had an early dinner in downtown Oakland, which didn’t exactly excite them.

But as we left E&J’s, I wanted to see how closely they were paying attention. We passed a bowling alley/arcade which was tempting for them since I told them we were playing it by ear. I lied to them and said we had a “reservation” at a similar place as I didn’t know this one existed. I pulled up my Apple Maps app and searched for Oracle Arena. Once the Siri voice said “Oracle”, JJ’s ears perked up. Brian wasn’t even paying attention. JJ said I got him good. But then he immediately asked, “Is LeBron playing?”

Nope. Though it sounded like there was an outside chance that he’d lace them up before his two weeks was over, he decided to stick to his plan and thus, my tickets were officially way over priced. Those are the breaks.

Right now, the Warriors are a hot ticket. It’s very hard to not get excited to see them play and it’s been that way for the last two and 1/2 years. The kids have been going to Warriors games since they were able to pay attention (and were even on the television broadcast). And the Warriors were mostly bad. But today, in their prime rooting years, the team has been ridiculously good.

When we got there, we noticed that Under Armour was doing some promotional work at the arena. It was the debut of Steph Curry wearing his new Curry One shoe. There was a small trailer outside the arena with all the colorways of the new shoe and Brian noticed a line where people were purchasing some Curry merchandise. But as we got closer, they weren’t actually buying anything. They were just showing their phone and receiving a shirt in return.

Inside the arena, we noticed the same thing. There were a few different lines and after getting in the line for Curry socks accidentally, we found the line for the Curry shirts. All we had to do was check-in on Facebook to get an Under Armour Curry One shirt. These weren’t cheap shirts either. They were the type of Under Armour shirts you buy to work out in.

Thanks to the terrible Oracle wi-fi, it took some time to check-in, but by the time we were at the front of the line, we were good to go. Well, except for JJ. His mom took his phone away, so he couldn’t check-in. He played the cute and unassuming role and still finagled a shirt, so we all got one. By the way, cute and unassuming works for him all the time. He’s been handed several baseballs at Giants games by umpires and people who work for the team.

Plus, I’m sure Steph Curry with the shot and Chef Curry with the pot would’ve been fine with JJ getting a shirt without the check-in. JJ’s been Steph’s biggest fan since the day Steph stepped on the court for the Warriors and was the first kid on the block with Steph’s last Under Armour shoe.

The game itself was a lot of fun. It was competitive early thanks to Kyrie Irving and JR Smith getting hot, but they didn’t stay that way. I told the kids that I was fine with JR Smith shooting because even though he was making a lot of contested jumpers, the law of averages said that he wouldn’t make them all night, and he didn’t. He did do Klay pretty well one time though.

It also meant that there were less shots for Kevin Love who put up the quietest 17 and 14 you’ll ever see. There were times in the game that I didn’t know he was in and was asking the kids where he was. He was visibly frustrated. Draymond Green beat him up, blocked his shots, and annoyed him to the point that Love argued with the referees every single time he missed a shot close. As you can expect, that didn’t help with their transition defense.

The game stayed close, but then the Splash Brothers got hot. Together, Klay and Steph scored 47 points and shot 50% which is pretty fantastic considering they shot 18 three pointers. The Warriors were simply much more efficient than the Cavs (shooting 50% to the Cavs 40%) and out-stocked them 17-9 (stocks = steals plus blocks).

The most exciting play live was a half-court alley-oop from Draymond to Harrison Barnes. I wish Barnes could’ve dunked like this in last year’s slam dunk contest.

@money23green gets the rebound and throws the half-court pass to @hbarnes for the dunk. #Warriors #WarriorsWorld

A video posted by Warriors World (@officialwarriorsworld) on

Another awesome part of the game live was when the big screen showed Mark Jackson, who was back in Oakland for the first time since he was fired last year. He was doing the broadcast for ESPN. He didn’t notice the applause for a good five seconds and then when he did, it turned into a standing ovation.

While Jackson shouldn’t get all the credit for the Warriors’ success, he definitely should get some. Steve Kerr took a team that had flaws offensively, but tremendous talent and turned them into a bit of a juggernaut. But Jackson changed the culture when he came in and turned them into a really good defensive team. It was the first time in my lifetime that the Warriors had a defensive mentality.

All in all, it was a great night (or a great time out, depending if you remember old Warriors’ marketing slogans). On the way home, we listened to three episodes of Serial, trying to find a way for Adnan to be innocent. But it would’ve been even better if I had just waited an hour and not paid the LeBron tax.

Free CurryOne UA shirts

A photo posted by Garrett Gonzales (@roheblius) on

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