A magical night!

What a night! Last night we went to see the orrrrlaaaando ma-gic! (The basketball team this neck of the woods).

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It was an incredible evening. First of all the Amway Center (note US spelling) is a place all English arenas should aspire to. It has everything you could need – papa johns, burgers, beers, cocktails, everything! It was so easy to get in and out of the arena and you could drink inside! Not me though, I was deso Dave!

First stop as soon as we walk in was MERCH MERCH MERCH – we were overcome with merch, so of course we bought some merch – two novelty number one fan foam fingers and two hats, check!

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Stephen then had it in his head he would be able to get his Vince Carter jersey signed by the man himself (for those of you who don’t know your basketball (me) he was/is a basketball player who was pretty famous and played for a team in Toronto and Stephen and his friends fancied him/idolised him when they were growing up). Soooo, we hung around with the “number one fans” – note most of them have also been overcome by MERCH!
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We hung around for a bit, while Stephen made close friends with the other fans, his cronies. Sadly, hunger pangs emerged for me (as some of you know, I get the shakes when I’m hungry), and Stephen had to vacate his current position as obsessive fan (think jimmy’s fan in Blades of Glory) and see to me and my hunger needs. (The man in the pic is Vince btw, Stephen photographed him numerous times through the game)

With the pressing pains in mind, we headed for the food areas, which is pretty much the whole of the outer edge of the arena. Settled for a Papa Johns for two reasons, one, we haven’t had one here yet, and two, it was the first place I saw. Purchased happily with our $9 souvenir cups I was fulfilled! And a giant tub of popcorn, of course, claro.
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Onto our seats – we were just TEN rows back from the court! Which meant we could see just how BIG the players are, and they are HUGE! We got our customary selfies before the game (a set piece of ours at any sporting event) and sat down.
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The whole time the music is pumping! They have a DJ spinning the decks playing every dance/r n b song you can imagine. There’s so much to see and so much going on, but I have my eyes on one thing only – who is the mascot?

Time passes, more pics have been taken, of course, and these very cute kids roll out onto the court and do the cutest dance, then more, and more. Very adorable. And the cheerleaders in their extremely revealing outfits, I guess that’s one of those american traditions that will never change. Although I did learn that they are no longer called cheerleaders – they are dancers. I was a little disappointed with their performance as there wasn’t a single human pyramid or back flip – two of my favourite things.
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It’s difficult to describe but even when the game started there was always something going on – entertainment everywhere. The music, still pumping, continues throughout the game, with inserted chants consisting of the classic “Cha Cha Slide” and some other familiar sporting ditties. We joined in of course, claro, especially on the “defence” chant – probably my favourite, especially as you have to put on an American accent to sound like everyone else.

Then I saw him – Stuff the Magic Dragon the mascot, he’s hilarious! Taunting the security guards and dancing around shaking his big green booty. It was a joy! My only regret was not hanging around with the mascot cronies (I’m sure they exist) and getting a pic with him. Definitely next time.
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It was seriously a great night! They did lose and the game was very close throughout, we had a few standing up moments and leapt up in astonishment when they missed a basket. It was intense.

The most interesting difference between this American sport and English football was the crowd. We are used to every other word being a pretty high grade swear word when we grace Chelsea’s ground, but here the most aggressive heckle we heard was “You loser!” And “Your legs are too small for your body!” I have to say, I much preferred this difference, although I didn’t join in. Still far too vulgar for me, what would Stuff the Magic Dragon think if he heard me.

The other incredible thing was “kiss cam” that was a hoot. We sadly didn’t make it, but at the end they captured one man sat by himself with his ginormous coke and tub of popcorn without a soul around him, and played “All by Myself”… We laughed for about ten minutes, if you can believe that.

But, apart from Stuff, my highlight were the “Sliver Stars” a performance group of about 15 oaps dressed in sliver jackets and sparkly trews. They tool the floor and we didn’t know what to expect. The music (same DJ) hits and out comes (forgive me I don’t know the title) but it goes “jump on it, jump on it” and they begin thrusting, smacking their own bottoms whilst lassoing the air! It was such a treat. Absolutely genius!
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At the very end, “ball caps” (new American term I’ve learned) still on – we looked around the Magic hall of fame and got a pic with the life size cut outs – look how big they are!!
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The next game we go to will be a college game with Amanda and Jim, which is apparently more “pumped” as “hyped” than that… Eeeek! I just hope they have something as incredible as the Sliver Stars, legendary.

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