Saturday, September 12, 2009
I missed the beginning of the Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies that had started about 5:30 at Symphony Hall in Springfield. But looking for something to do at about 7-ish, I thought a quick swing by downtown might produce a glimpse at the legendary players as they came back out after the ceremony.
Getting there at about 7:20, the tent and carpet were still out, along with a smattering of onlookers, all apparently hoping for a glimpse, too.
No one seemed to be sure exactly when they would be coming out of the hall, or even if the players would be coming out the main entrance. I decided to give it a little more time, but things weren't looking too promising. In fact, things were looking bleaker by the minute, as trucks came up and they began rolling up the red carpet, literally.
Hmm. Well, maybe they're packing up in anticipation of the crowd exiting...
We all waited about another 20 minutes or so, and as it got dark, the small crowd began to disperse. I followed some people around the side of the hall, with the bright idea that the players might just be using their own exit.
In the street behind the hall, there were several limos lined up, and another small crowd gathered around the back service entrance.
Ah. This must be it... I positioned myself in the front lines, in innocent anticipation that Michael Jordan and the rest of the greats might just pass right before me, with the perfect picture opportunity.
Then suddenly, those tender hopes were crudely dashed as a gruff police Sergeant and his squad began shouting for everyone to clear the area and get back behind the barriers at the ends of the street- about 75 yards away...
But security now appeared to be tightening up everywhere, with ear budded secret service-looking types walking all over scanning the crowd and shining flashlights at the ledges and windows above, and trouble-sniffing dogs checking the sidewalks and all vehicles, including a thorough check of the limos.
The local police were patrolling on foot, on bicycles and even on some cool, two-front wheel scooters.
They were good cops, and interacted with the crowd at the same time jovially but sternly. The Sarge was on his toes, watching and directing his boys
The wait was getting pretty long, but I was now so heavily invested time-wise that I had no choice but to stay until the end. Then some pizza guys showed up with about a dozen boxes and walked in through the back entrance. The rain threatened, sprinkled and stopped, sprinkled again...small kids began to whine about their tired feet, and adults grumbled about their backs.
But no one left. Such is the power of our superstars.
Then security seemed to ratchet up even more, the limos were started up, several security people began crowding around the door in the distance...something was about to happen...
People at last began filing out the door, and the crowd began to murmur excitedly:
"Who's that? Is that Stockton? I think I see him. No...There he is! MICHAEL! MIKE! MIIIKE!!!"
It was indeed the great Michael Jordan, amidst his entourage and looking like a class act.
He didn't seem to acknowledge the crowd too much and stuck to his entourage, but it's hard to blame him. He had just addressed a big crowd inside, and this little scatter of fans outside must be an infitismal fraction of the millions and millions of adoring faces he has seen in his carreer.
So much attention was poured on Jordan that I don't think too many people saw the other inductees walking out. But they all came out together in large groups and were whisked away so quickly, there was only enough time for anyone to try and focus on one of them, so it had to be MJ.
The limos sped off, with the crowd in a frenzy at catching a glimpse of their hero...
I have to say for a few minutes there it was pretty exiting. Michael Jordan must be one of the top five sports celebrities in America, of all time. And when one of these American idols come around, with all the attendant hoopla they bring, it is really something to see...