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Why I didn't go to Vegas for the All Star Break -- This time.
by: Rodrique Benson
February 20, 2007
It’s late Sunday afternoon. I’ve got to connect flights in Albuquerque, New Mexico on my way to Fort Worth. As I enjoy my Quizno’s and the free wifi, I sign onto AIM and there’s an away message that catches my eye:

“Can somebody help me define a word? I need to know what the word PROBATE means. I think I know. There’s this white girl who shows up at all the basketball games. We call that B!&$# PRO-BATE.”

I then remember that he, along with many people I know, went to Las Vegas for All-Star weekend. I then notice that he, along with many people I know, was already back from Vegas – never ever saw the game. The All-Star GAME was really not why anyone went to Vegas, I don’t really know anyone who watched it. In fact, while I was still at the airport, a guy behind me says to one of his buddies “Ice skating is the only sporting event going on tonight.” I think to myself that he, like the guys in that new “ESPNNews” commercial, was talking sports of his a—out of ignorance. I mean, even if you don’t watch the game, you gotta at least know it’s goin on!

I had the chance to go to Vegas, and I didn’t take it. No, not because I wasn’t a D-League All Star (because that would have actually been kinda tight if so), and not because I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t go for two reasons. The first, and probably more practical reason, was that at one of our NBDL seminars (yep, we have seminars) we were warned against getting too wild out in Vegas, and told the consequences that would come down if we were caught “wild’n out” in the Sin City. The second reason I didn’t go is that I really, really wanted to “wild out”. Haha, and I wanted to do it Berkeley style where nearly all my friends were waiting to ask me questions about how crazy it is to live in North Dakota (One girl actually asked if it bordered North Carolina, seriously), and where they would be willing to have a very low key good time.

So I heard about the craziness that was All Star weekend 2007 through IM’s, Texts, and Voicemails (No way could a call get through before 5AM, it was far to wild out there for that). One guy’s away message reads “Vegas Baby! Vegas!” Another reads “Man, why are all these women out here wearing so little.” I get the feeling that it’s basically Groupie-Fest 2007 going on out there. I take that back, it’s more like the first and only Groupie-Fest until the next All-Star game in Vegas. It seems that everyone I know out there has gotten in with someone who knows someone, or maybe even a big time celebrity. A pretty good-looking girl I know has an away message that says “So I met the owners of the Palms, they invited us to their party, where we met D-Wade and his crew who invited us to THEIR party! I’m sitting there thinking “Great. Now D-Wade has her in his ‘5’, I’m blown out of the water…I don’t even have T-Mobile.” She’s by no means a groupie, but who could resist the chance to party with D-Wade, heck I wanna party with him too. Maybe I should try to meet Charles first.

Fact of the matter is that the NBA made this whole Friday – Saturday thing the biggest production of all time. A couple of my teammates got a chance to go because they are NBDL All-Stars. I met up with one of them, Quemont Greer, at the Dallas-Ft.Worth Airport late last night as we both finally got back from our respective trips. I start to tell him the crazy weekend I had. How I was at a club on Friday, using the bathroom and, in my rush to get in there, forgot to lock the stall. I figured it didn’t matter anyways because my head is easily visible over the door and it was a #1 job (you don’t #2 at a club). Some guy walks right in like nobody was there and just watches me. I confront him like “Mann what the hell are you doing?” I guess because he was so drunk, he just kinda pretended like he didn’t hear me. I really wanted to fight him but my friends calmed me down – besides, I’m no fighter. But anyways, I tell “Q” this story and he kind of nods and laughs a little. I’m thinking how can he not be more impressed? Then he pulls out a cigar that I guess costs more than a Playstation 3 and tells the story of how he got it. Dammit, it was wwayyy better than my stupid story. Then, later on the drive, he’s holding a folded thing that has a kind of basketball-like pebbling on it. He hands it to me. I open it up and inside is an oversized casino chip…with Jamie Foxx’s photo on it. The thing is a coddamn invitation to a party. No joke the planning, production, and design, of the invitation probably cost more than the cigar – each. It’s not like these things were mass-produced.
Quemont Greer, D-League All-Star, had been invited to probably the biggest party on Sunday night but couldn’t go. I read the thing, and it was unbelievable what it said. The Oversized chip was blue and white and said the party was from 9PM to 5AM, the date, and it noted the location. The chip was magnetic and stuck to the folded basketball pebbled encasing. I took out the chip and there was a message in silver writing (I’m sure people would say that the color was Platinum or something just for effect) that made the whole thing just really ascetically pleasing. It said:
“Taste the luxury, feel the beat as Marc and Taz present, not just another star studded Gala, but a truly life defining moment. Secure your place in entertainment history as you strut up the red carpet in the finest Vegas experience ever to hit the strip. You may never again have this opportunity to stand up and be counted.”
Man if I had gone down to Vegas and got this invite, would people really say I’ve secured my “place in entertainment history”? “Rod Benson, Sixth Man for the Dakota Wizards, just came in, no00o0 wayyyy! You see him? On the red carpet! Have you read his blogs? This guy DEFINITELY DESERVES TO BE HERE! What a truly life defining moment this must be for him.” I actually have aspirations of one day attending parties like this, but that’s when I have to money to afford to buy one drink in that bad boy. I guess maybe that’s part of why I didn’t go as well. I could picture exactly what happens. I try to get close to big time friends I have out there, clinging to them like an annoying little brother who you know is too young to get into an “R” rated movie. Through my use of my wit, skill, and intelligence, I finally find my way into Jay-Z’s party. There are now Super Groupies from around the country who have come out here to “stand up and be counted” and they assume I’m somebody real big time. Alas, I can’t even buy them a drink. I can’t even afford a meal really, if it weren’t for the extra Per Diem.

In the end I guess the small-fish-in-a-big-pond thing just isn’t my cup of tea. I went to Berkeley to watch my boys play, and win, against Oregon and Oregon State. I may not be a “Big” fish out there, but I’m solid. If Berkeley were really an ocean I’d be like Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid” whereas if I was in Vegas I’d be closer to Nemo from “Finding Nemo.” It’s good I didn’t go to Vegas and overdo it too early, because when I do get into the NBA, I’ll have more fun at those types of things than I ever could being a wide eyed D-Leaguer. For now, I have to focus on the Ft. Worth Flyers and a fellow named Pops if I ever want to get there. You can see funny videos, pics, and stories from this past weekend in Berkeley on www.toomuchrodbenson.com

Feedback for this article may be sent to rzb0@yahoo.com
 
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Game Time, Fan Fare, and Extra Curriculars
by: Rodrique Benson
February 12, 2007
It’s been a whole 5 days since my last post here on DraftExpress. It seems the last one was rather well received which was pretty cool. Here I am sitting at home (because I refuse to go outside due to the temperature), in front of my computer for like 8 straight hours reading comments that people posted on my blog thinking “if only they knew I’m really NOT that cool.” I seriously only took a break from comment-reading to watch “Smallville” on Thursday night. Clark and Lana rekindling their love all while Chloe fights her feelings and Lex reveals he has a master plan? Wow you can’t beat that, but I digress. My point is that I’m appreciative of all the love I’ve been shown, especially since I started toomuchrodbenson on a whim after seeing a San Francisco billboard that read “Are You? Gay.com”. I was thinking that it was a site that helped people determine their sexuality or something and found it to be very ridiculous, but also very San Fran. Well, that and the fact that I needed something to take my mind off the fact that my so called girlfriend at the time said “So, we’re just friends, right?” after I rode in a hot van 11 hours from S.F. to Eugene, OR, with a Rock band I had met the night before to surprise her – seriously. So, yea, it’s cool that so many people visit now.

I’m currently in Bakersfield, CA right now because we played the Anaheim Arsenal on Sat. and the Jam last night. It’s funny to think I used to call Bakersfield the worst big city in California. I take that back right now. After living in Bismarck, I find Bakersfield to be a glorious, fantastic place. I could raise my kids here and never move again. 65 degrees has never felt so warm. Anyways, like I said we played the Arsenal for the first part of this road trip and the Jam yesterday and there were a few interesting things from the past few days…

Game Time:

The first game we played I had to match up against Corsely Edwards (I think he was the #1 overall pick in the D-League) and Tyler Smith. For one, Corsely is about 300 lbs, give or take a Big Mac, so I was a little worried about getting pushed under the basket considering I’m only 220 soaking wet and wearing boots. Secondly, I knew that Tyler Smith is one of the smartest, toughest players in the D-League, making it nearly impossible to get good position anywhere on the court – he seems to always beat you to the spot because he is the first to know where the spot is and he’s talented enough to take it. To my surprise however, I ended up with 21 rebounds, the highest total I’ve had since high school. My final line was 11 pts, 21 rbs, and 2 blks. I was hoping to come away from that game with 6 rebounds given their ability down low, so it was pretty special to me to play so well. I think it must have been the fact that we went out to Hollywood the night before and all the fully toothed, attractive women must have jump-started my system a little bit or something.

We continued the next day against the Jam up here in Bakersfield. This game was pretty much an average game for me (11pts. 5 rebs, 2 stl). I would have predicted better totals because I thought Patrick O'Bryant was a slow footed kid with bad hands. I only believed this because I had read it on some website. I was dead wrong. You really can’t believe the “Experts” sometimes because they can be wrong quite often. This kid is long, athletic enough, and a big time game changer if for no other reason than the fact that he’s good at being tall. I had 12 offensive rebs against Anaheim and zero vs. the Jam. We play them again tomorrow and I HAVE to get at least 4 offensive rebounds, that’s all there is to it. It won’t be easy.


Fan Fare:


At the Anaheim game I gave out close to 15 tickets for my friends and family and they all came out. All my friends decided to sit together because the Anaheim convention center was about 1/8 filled up. I guess the ushers kept approaching them and asking “Let me see your tickets! Hmm I dunno, you’re supposed to be way on the other side, pal. I oughta enforce it. I oughta enforce it. But, I won’t. You just better hope the people who own these seats don’t storm through here all mad about their seats.” I heard part of this and they filled in the blanks for me after the game. I could see if this was a Laker game at Staples, but it wasn’t. There was NO WAY that anyone was gonna come and take these seats. Impossible.

After the game I’m feeling real big time because of my performance. As I’m walking to the locker room, there’s a little girl kind of out of the way of my path to the locker room doors and she’s holding a basketball and a pen. It really is out of the way, but I think to myself “This little girl wants my Autograph, huh? Man that’s cool of her to not really follow points like that. She obviously was looking at the rebound totals or something. Maybe her dad told her to get my autograph. Either way it’s cool.” I walk up to her and she literally turns a 180 and just stands there with her back to me leaving me just standing there all-awkward. She then turns back around and gets the autograph of EVERYONE ELSE ON MY TEAM. I had a quick reality check. “21 rebs doesn’t make you big time, and why the hell would you think this little girl got the stat sheet so quickly and noted your rebound totals you idiot,” I thought to myself as I was showering after the game.

In Bakersfield I’m warming up and the music is playing as usual. I look over and there’s an middle aged white guy who looks like he could be an important businessman during the week (except for the fact that he’s wearing a fanny pack), talking to a bunch of people. I don’t pay attention really and continue to stretch. When I turn back around, I see him pop-locking to the words “Im a Jig-A-Lo Spen-din Lots-A-Dough,” and it’s just hilarious. I dunno why he decided to do it, but I laughed.

Bakersfield is unique from any other pro sports team, ever. Why, you ask? It’s because their dance team has MEN on it. I have never, ever, seen another team with MEN on it in all of pro sports. I can actually say that in some places there are male dancers, but they really dance. These guys were doing moves like toe-touches and the splits and that stiff armed “#1” point that cheerleaders do, you know the one where they kind of sway their hips forward and go up on one toe? Yea, THAT one. I’m over here like this is absolutely ridiculous; there is no entertainment value here.


Extra Curricular:

Everybody knows there’s a lot of talking in Pro Sports, especially football and basketball. In the D-League I feel there is more than any other level of basketball. I personally do a lot of talking. We’re mostly all friends anyways so it’s all good. One game, I completely flopped on Luke Schenscher and got the call, and then the next time down, I reached around him and stole the ball while he was making his move. He later got some B.S. call on me and I go “Ehh, I guess I got you twice, you got me once, we’re even.” He goes “Yea, mate. No doubt.”

In Anaheim, Corsely comes out at half time and says, “You got 15 boards, bet I get more than you?” I laugh and reply “Naww I got you today kid.” I’ve now got kind of a friendly rivalry going in that game to outrebound him. There’s no way he’s gonna catch me. Towards the end of the game I KNOW I have 19 boards and I want that 20, I can taste it. I’m at the free throw line and I say to Corsely “Hey, look, all I need is 1 more board and 2 more points for my double double with 20 boards. How bout you just met me get one real quick?” He goes, “You’re gonna have to let me get one then.” Dammit If I let him get one, then I cant get MINE. Oh well, it was worth asking. I had been talking with Tyler Smith a little during the game and I had mentioned how I liked his game. All of this was cool because after the game both of them congratulated me on how I played. I feel that’s how basketball should be -- fun…it is a game after all.

In Bakersfield it was kind of another story. I told O’Bryant he had a nice hook, which he does, so that was all good. The problem came when Mateen Cleaves checked in. Yea, remember him? Mateen Cleaves. First play he’s trying to box me out but he’s basically just holding my shorts the whole time, like 6 straight seconds. I got kinda mad and tried to throw him off of me, but it didn’t work. He must have been an expert fouler. I tell the ref to watch him a little and the ref agrees. The next time down he grabs me AGAIN. The ref calls him on it. I say to Mateen “Just play the game.” I swear that he fires back at me, loud enough for my homie to hear him front the 8th row, “why don’t you just shut the #$%@ up! Just shut the #$%$ up!” Whoa, right? He goes 0-60 in 2 seconds flat. So I say back to him “Wow, really? Where have YOU been the last 3 years?” Play resumes. I feel good about what I said because I know it must have gotten to him. Later, when I’m on the bench, I think to myself “His fall from grace must have been swift to go from NCAA National Champ, to NBA, to defensive ‘Goon’ in the NBDL.” Then I thought, “Man, at least he HAS been somewhere. He wouldn’t even know your name if it wasn’t on the back of your jersey, Rod.” Dammit I was right, he wins by default. But I did feel good because he has a real big head, like a baby.

Regardless of whether the talk is good or bad, the handshakes at the end seem to rectify all. As I went to shake Mateen’s hand, I knew he wasn’t a bad guy. I’ve played dirty too at times. Whatever, it’s all part of the game, and that was it.


Well that wraps it up again. Remember you can always find MORE Rod Benson, including the full details of the night out before the Anaheim game, and the trip to Eugene, Oregon at www.toomuchrodbenson.com. Until next time…

Feedback for this article may be sent to rzb0@yahoo.com
 
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Observations From an 8 Day Road Trip
by: Rodrique Benson
February 7, 2007
One of the first things I heard about the D-League was “you don’t want to be a guy with any titles.” That means that at the end of the year, you want to be the D-League’s leading scorer. You don’t want to have been voted to 3 straight D-League All-Star games. You don’t want to be the D-League’s all-time leader in games played. Why? Because it’s the D-League, that’s why. If you’ve played MORE D-League games than anyone else, then that means you’ve played LESS NBA games than anyone else. Well, despite the warning about avoiding a title like the Oakland Raiders avoid the playoffs, I seem to have fallen in. I am the only D-Leaguer with a real blog – two blogs in fact. Hopefully, like every D-Leaguer, I hope that one day my title becomes “one of the only NBA players” with such credentials.

For now I’m just your everyday D-Leaguer (my game is anything but everyday) who observes a lot of things about this league and the lifestyle that comes along with it. I play for the Dakota Wizards (yes, North Dakota) and I used to play for the Austin Toro’s where I got out just in time to miss “Da Bull” getting a technical that almost cost them a game. As for the Wizards, we just got back from an 8-day-long road trip and man; there was a lot of action. For whatever reason I seem to notice things, a lot of things. I simply relay the things I notice to you…

As I walked up to the 1 terminal, 2 gate, Bismarck, North Dakota airport, I saw a lot of promise in our impending road trip. Not only was it a chance to play, but, more importantly, it was a chance to get out of the coldest weather I’ve ever endured in my life...ever (I’m from San Diego). It was only a 30 yard walk from the team van to the doors of the airport but in that time the -15 degree temperature plus whatever wind chill factor made my ears completely numb and my eyes water and tear – only to freeze up into little ice streaks on my face. It wouldn’t be so bad, but as a rookie, I’m forced to carry extra bags so the walk was slow. We were going to Texas where it had to be warmer than that.

Texas was definitely warmer, but J.J. Barea was ON FIRE when we played the Ft. Worth Flyers in the Ft. Worth convention center. We lost both games down there and I swear this guy must have had 35 pts a game against us. The kid is like a bowling ball with legs, yet, for some reason, I cant block his shot to save my life. I feel like every time he sees me underneath the basket, he says something to himself in Spanish like “ˇeste punky no podría pararme si le hicieron del ladrillo sólido!” then just does whatever he wants. He is a real talented kid, but dang…it really took a special performance from him to overcome my 14 pt., 10-rebound display haha. But seriously, there are a couple things besides the NBA Assigned players that make it really hard to play in Ft. Worth. For one, they have the best-looking dance team of all time. They are easily comparable to the Laker Girls, but, since we are in the D-League where games sometimes only have 17 people in the stands, those 12 dancers can really, really stand out. Another thing they have going for them is that they play their music real loud. It’s basically like a nightclub with a basketball team for extra entertainment. Not only that, but the DJ is pretty damn good and has an excellent play list.

We had an early flight out of Ft. Worth on our way to Albuquerque where it was snowing. Our van driver looked almost exactly like Tom Green, which I found funny and basically meant that I couldn’t look directly at him without laughing a little. We won our first game down there by a solid margin. Maurice Baker led us in basically every stat category that mattered. As for me? Foul trouble, which just makes me so mad. It was just one of those games where every call that could go against me, did. It left me real frustrated, but I knew I would bounce back the next game.

We had a day off the next day so both teams hit the town. I found myself in a humongous super-club where half was a “cowboy” themed club and everyone was wearing their cowboy hats and boots. Just when I least expected it, a big time square dance broke out and I had to hit the sidelines. Right then this guy, whose name I never knew, came up to me. His breath basically smelled like he brushed his teeth with hops and barely and washed his mouth out with fermented potatoes. He just kept ranting on and on about how I should “just go grab one of them.” “Them” referred to one of the square-dancing girls. I decided that this was my cue to go back to the other half of the club where they were playing hip-hop. That same guy with the bad breath found me again somehow. He started telling me about how I could get with any of the girls in the bar if I “just tell them that (I) (am) in the NBA.” He continued, “I dunno man make up a team, these people don’t care. You play for the Wizards? Now it’s the Washington Wizards.” Its funny but I guess in some ways its true. So what if I don’t exactly say which Wizards I play for. I mean, I am 6’10”…who would argue? Sadly, I didn’t oblige, the real number zero of the Wizards is a little too well known for me to pull that off. Of course the only 300 lb girl in the building comes right up to me and asks me to dance. I say no (I have a history of big girls asking me to dance for some reason). She persists and persists. She then flashes a smile. I am not joking when I say that from her front tooth on through the left side of her face, there were no other teeth. It actually scared me enough to make me kind of jump back. I realized that just because I had a day off, it didn’t mean that I needed to try to party, so I waited until everyone was ready and I left. She followed me to the cab asking for tickets. I told her that we didn’t get any tickets (obviously because I didn’t need her waving to me from the stands the next day). She knew her stuff though. She said “Oh you don’t? Well Michael Cooper makes sure his players get tickets!” That’s when I hit her with the “Huh, what?” I repeated the “huh, what?” method over and over again as I walked towards the cab and she really thought I couldn’t hear her. Nice, smooth get away.

The next game was on the final day of the road trip. Right off the bat I got 2 quick fouls. I felt like there was nothing I could do. It was actually funny because it was a female ref who called the fouls. Nothing wrong with female refs whatsoever, but before the game, when I was stretching, I saw her walk out in her jacket and I thought “you know what, female refs get a bad rep for calling the game too tight. I think that’s a myth, really. I mean, I think people just give them a hard time because they’re female.” I had been in for all of 45 seconds and had two fouls and a defensive 3 in the key, all called by her. I was so frustrated you could see it on my face. Since there were only so many people in the Albuquerque rodeo house (or whatever this place is called), it was easy to hear the fans. One of the fans I guess saw how frustrated I looked and decided to let me have it a little bit. “Hey Benson! Benson,” he yelled, “You need to put some meat on them bones Benson!” I turned and looked at this guy and I distinctly remember thinking to myself “Wow guy, you need 20 years back, some Rogaine, and a shirt without a ‘Spaghetti O’s’ stain on it.” I calmed myself down and got back to the game, which we lost. Dijon Thompson played really well, as did Cedric Bozeman. We got down 30-10 and it was tough to come back after that.


We had to get back to Bismarck for a game against Tulsa the next day. I realized that even though its so cold that you sometimes consider turning your oven on “BROIL” and jumping inside like Hansel and Gretel, at the end of the day, nothing beats home cookin’. There’s the guy behind the bench with his “Benson Boards ‘Em” sign. There’s the girl sitting right next to the bench who winks at me and says “See you at bar later right?” as I pretend not to hear. There’s the ball kids who I swear are like 10 years old but who can consistently be heard giving relationship advice to one another. “I’m telling you man, she broke up with you, yea, but it had nothing to do with you. She has to do her own thing right now,” one of them says to another. I’m trying to warm up but I cant help but realize that this kid could give me some advice. Anyways we lost at home to the 66ers – our 5th loss in 6 games. Denham Brown and Desmond Farmer were unbelievable. It was probably my best game yet (20 pts. 8 rbs. 3 ast.) but we trailed the entire game and could never get a lead.

We play the LA D-Fenders tomorrow and I’m hoping to continue to play well offensively, but in this league, consistency is everything so it takes more than a couple games to get it all together. So I’ll wrap up my first entry into the too much Rod Benson blog until next time…. Who knows, maybe sooner than later I’ll have another title: “10th Player Called Up This Season – with a blog”. You can find EVEN MORE Rod Benson at
www.toomuchrodbenson.com

Feedback for this article may be sent to rzb0@yahoo.com
 
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