Tuesday evening, my father aka Slim, my mother, aka Weasie (both nicknames that I gave my parents in the 1970s that I have called them ever since - read my book to learn why :), my wife Julie and I went to the Wizards vs. Magic at the Verizon Center.
I have Wizards season tickets with long time friend and former next door neighbor Peter Eelman. As season ticket holders, we enjoy a number of perks each year. One of the main perks is we have a great Senior Guest Services Specialist in Tony Duffy. Tony helped get the whole night setup. In the middle of the 2nd quarter, Tony came buy with two bags of Wizards items for my father. In the bags were:
- Signed Bradley Beal plaque with a piece of a game worn jersey when Bradley had his highest scoring game ever for the Wizards.
- Wizards game warmup jacket.
- Wizards golf balls.
- DC-12 glasses.
- Wizards coasters.
- A message was put on the Verizon Center's four large screens:
- Happy Birthday Lt. Col. John K. Edstrom!
A perk that was happening the night of the game was a "Chalk Talk" where the Wizards guest services had the Directors of player personnel for the Wizards, Capitals, Redskins and Nationals all talk about player contracts. Below is my father in the Wizards cap before the event started. I asked a question on what happened with the $36 million penalty the Redskins had a few years back.
We are in front of the "M" Lounge which is only for those patrons who have first row court side seats.
When you have court side seats, it comes with free drinks and food. We ate at all three of the court side restaurants - "M" Lounge, Courtside Clube and Dewar's Coaches Club.
Enjoying our free drinks and food in our super comfortable seats.
As we were sitting down, Steve Buckhantz, play-by-play announcer for the Washington Wizards on TV (along with Phil Chenier who is the color commentary part of the great team) was finishing up his pre-game broadcast when he was walking off the court to head upstairs to do the game. I ran into Steve and asked him to wish my father an happy 80th birthday which he gladly did.
Before the game my father had a friend come over, Chris Sanders, who is the grandson of my father's good friend Oscar Sanders. Oscar passed away in 2008. Chris has first row floor seats at Wizards games. That is Chris getting up after sitting down with my father. Chris is very fast or Julie was taking the photo from section 402, I can't remember which is true :)
Above is my father with the legend of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Washington Bullets - Bobby Dandridge. I was in the tunnel and I ran into Bobby and we started talking. I had met Bobby once before at an autograph signing session and I remember how nice he was there, so I thought I would walk up to him to ask him a huge favor.
I told him that me and my father were huge fans of his and we were there in 1978 when he helped lead the Bullets to a world championship. I asked him if he would mind walking out to our seats and wishing my father a happy 80th birthday and getting his photo with my father. He said, "of course!" As we walked up, we were told to wait by security because it was during a pre-game presentation. Bobby could tell that I felt I had missed the window for him to speak with my dad, so he said to me, "it's all right, we have time. It's not like I am playing tonight, right?" I told Bobby that I remember when he became a member of the Washington Bullets and I read in the Washington Post that a driving reason that Bob Ferry (Bullets GM) picked up Bobby was because he read a quote by Julius Dr. J Erving that "no one checked him better than Bobby Dandridge". Bobby said to me, "that was awful nice of him to say that".
THE absolute happiest I have ever seen my father, "hey slim, there is someone here I would like you to meet" and he looked up and saw Bobby Dandridge . My father popped up out of his seat like he was shot out of a cannon and started shaking Bobby's hand and had the biggest smile I have ever seen him have. My father said to him, "oh this is GREAT, we saw you play back in the 70s when you won it all!"
As wikipedia states on Bobby Dandridge: "Named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1970, Dandridge was also an important part of the Milwaukee Bucks team that won the NBA championship in 1971 alongside the Hall-of-Fame duo of Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Oscar Robertson. Dandridge is usually mentioned as one of the NBA's best forwards in the 1970s. He played a total of 13 seasons in the NBA, nine of them with the Bucks as well as four with the Washington Bullets, with whom he won an NBA championship in 1978 while forming the frontcourt with another future Hall-of-Fame duo: Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld."
I can honestly say that Bobby Dandridge is my favorite Bullet/Wizard of all time because he defines what a class act truly is both on the court and in life. I cannot thank him enough for taking time out of his night to speak with me and then walk out of the tunnel and spend some time with my father.
Above is John Wall - first round pick for the Wizards, NBA All-Star and the 2014 NBA slam dunk champion. John had an incredible night scoring 27 points.
I was speaking with one of the Wizards Girls and asked her if she could get a Wizards t-shirt for my father. She brought over one for him and one for me.
The picture above and below were taken by my wife, Julie, from our regular season ticket seats in section 402.
Above is John Wall bringing the ball up, just in front of us, with his running mate Bradley Beal. John Wall and Bradley Beal are the two most gifted (and youngest) guards in all of the NBA. Bradley had 21 points that night.
Wizards won 115 to 106 to cap off a perfect night!
At the end of the game, Zach Leonsis, son of the Wizards/Capitals/Mystics/Verizon Center Ted Leonsis, wished my father a happy 80th birthday as well. Zach was sitting three seats away from us and I asked him to wish my father a happy birthday - which he gladly did. The whole Leonsis family is a class act.
Above is the selfie that Slim took the next day wearing the Wizards warmup that Tony Duffy gave him.
As the old Mastercard commercials used to state:
"Price of two floor tickets at a Wizards game $1,500 Watching your father have the time of his life and have Bobby Dandridge personally wish him a happy 80th birthday - PRICELESS!"