I was unsure of the assignment from the jump and the dank, rainy weather coupled with the ceremony's location (Midtown) didn't exactly push me out the door. But a soldier must march and I am certainly considered front line material for such an assignment.
After my last (pssst! Look below) assignment I came to the conclusion that shaving was my best bet if I wanted to reap the benefits of PR benevolence. Clean-shaven I look like media jail bait
and I'll take any advantage I can get.
As I stood around waiting for the talking jocks to enter the networking/backscratching/sycophanting area (cocktail lounge) I kept myself busy snagging passed hors d'oeuvres and entertaining the smallish PR representative with my hilarious folksy ways.
As my restlessness grew, I strolled into the area designated for mingling and drinking. With newfound friend in tow we grabbed sodas and when my unsolicited chaperone was elsewhere I gulped down some cheap wine.
I jumped into line with the other media members as a smattering of former players and wishful former players stopped to chat with us lower-tier media members.
I was able to speak briefly with the Round Mound of Rebound, Charles Barkley, before he was scurried to the stage to present the night's first award. It was difficult to interview a boyhood idol but it could have gone much worse.
I was beckoned to the green room to watch the program on a monitor and interview winners during their trophy photograph set to the lovely Sports Emmy background: dream.come.true. Who doesn't want to chat up producers and cameramen?!
I was able to converse with Cris Collinsworth who turned out to be quite an intelligent man. We discussed what effects a U.S. boycott of the Beijing Olympics would have on the games and relations between the two nations. While I disagreed with some of Collinsworth's assertions (a nation shouldn't use the Olympics as a forum for protest) I was surprised he supported and advocated individuals using the games in such a fashion. We discussed the differences between prior Olympics* and the global communities' calls for boycotts and contrasted them with the Beijing controversy.
Cris was whisked away before I was able to discuss candidates grandstanding with calls for boycotting the Olympics or portions of the games. But I was able to listen to Sir Charles drop more knowledge on myself and the weirdos interviewing him alongside me.
(Note: One of the reporters actually looked like the pictured Laker, [is that Vlade Divac?] but with much less hair or jumping ability.)
Chuckster spoke more about politics (outsourcing of jobs and labor, immigration, classism, problems within the black community, etc.) than basketball which was interesting and still peppered with delicious quotables:
"I think gay people should be able to get married. I say that and they (never identified) try to get me fired. I tell them to kiss my ass."
When celebrities start spouting off about social or political issues, my eyes usually start circling, rolling, and/or squeezing in annoyance and disgust. But when a celebrity has his (or her) mind right and isn't simply squawking and sounding off with little to no authority or expertise on a subject other than notoriety, but because said person KNOWS THE SUBJECT, it's refreshing***.
Charles Barkley and Cris Collinsworth are knowledgeable people. They seek to attain knowledge on a topic and don't (as far as I know) present themselves as experts when they're not.
I'm not here to present these two men as idols other than models for trading cards to be attached to bike wheels for the purpose of "clickety-click" sound production. But I left my conversations with these men with a newfound respect for their intellects and classiness.
If only they can keep the coatcheck line (40 minutes waiting for my jacket?!) in order I'd certainly attend the 30th Annual Sports Emmy Awards if invited. I gotta bring a camera, though.
*I managed to spill a glass of wine on a woman descending the stairs a few strides behind me at this juncture, too. Smooth.
**Full disclosure: I totally flubbed a historical reference and somehow overlooked/forgot in the heat of the moment (haha-that sounds so sexual) that the U.S. actually participated in the Berlin Games. All apologies to Jesse Owens and the other courageous men and women who participated. What was I thinking? Apparently not too much.
***Funny how Mystic River featured my examples (save for Sarandon) from both camps of outspoken celebrities.