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NBA Draft Combine: Wednesday -- Amar and Mychal's Odyssey


First of all, things here are bonkers. Mychal and I are in a situation *RIGHT NAO* where we show up and sit down and people feel compelled to start up conversations with us while Daryl Morey is checking kids play a few steps away from Bryan Colangelo catching up with old players, and Rick Carlisle walks by us like he was a guy getting to his seat in a movie theatre. But that's just the middle of the story on Saturday noon. The beginning of this story is truly a tale worth telling.



NBA Draft Combine:

Attack Athletics

2641 W. Harrison St,

Chicago Illinois

Thursday and Friday . . .



So that means, logically, Wednesday is the travel day. A non-day. A simple day where MyLo and I will do our work, say goodbye to loved ones, and make our way to Chicago for our basketball hobby. Nothing is scheduled for Wednesday, so of course, nothing will happen on Wednesday. Alas, this is how all stories start.

The plan was for both of us to finish our full day jobs on Wed as fast as possible, somehow find time for dinner, and meet at an undisclosed location that was "kinda" halfway to Chicago for both of us. But the work day was full of ups and downs for both of us. I kept getting asked to come in to work to fill in for a guy who was taking off, which was frustrating because it was *I* who was taking the time off. Mychal was having trouble with his employees at work who were too stupid to do a job right, but lucid enough to admit as much when being admonished. Work wasn't going to go away just because our hobbies had a schedule, and the clock was ticking.

I rushed home from work to discover that the city decided to re-cement the entire sidewalk preventing ingress to my house. The beginning of my journey was filled with a very specific, yet annoying obstacle. The laborers who were tasked with harrying me were the cherry on the top of a particularly ridiculous day. I did still manage to get out of the city proper by 4 pm and I was out of the Greater Detroit Area before rush hour hit. I was on my way to rendezvous with MyLo . . . and I would have enough time to have a nice chat with Deseret News Superstar DJ Jazzy Jody Genessy to talk a little about what to expect.

That was until we found out that he had less time than we had planned for, and then after our conversation started getting to the key part my phone died. It was basically that moment when your mentor tells you the secret code you need to pass the challenge, in a movie, and then you're cut off from him. I had no clue how important what he was saying would be. And thanks to phone technology, I may now never know. It was a "Noooooooooooooooooooooo" moment for sure. And it was the worst thing to happen as I did not get the key info on the protocol for an event like this. After all, MyLo and I aren't reporters. We didn't go to school to understand this, train for this, or have experience with things like this. We were going to have to wing it.

You know, if we ever got there. A few miles later the car started to make sounds like I was driving on 1.5 tires. (Thanks State of Michigan department of Highways) This had to be investigated immediately and I was getting late. I texted Mychal and told him to hold off on leaving, I hadn't even gotten to Kalamazoo yet. He was getting ready to go, but had to wait. (Btw, this entire sequence in the last 48 hours of his life is like a Vietnam war movie of lost innocence.) Eventually things started to get back on track -- surely the worst for me was over . . .

. . . But the worst for Mychal was just beginning. He was driving up and meeting me halfway. His enchanting wife was going to drive their car back and I was going to take him the rest of the way. They joked about meeting some strange guy they had never met, save for the internet, and talked about the driving capacity of a man with a brain tumor. They did what all young couples in love did, they professed their feelings for each other over a "maybe the last meal we ever have together" trip South of the Border, to Taco Bell.

They then went to the assigned meeting place, with baited breath as I drove down into parts unknown to me. (I have, literally, been driving to Chicago a few times a year, every year, for the last 15 years, and had never once even heard of the city I was to meet them in) To my surprise there were no incidents and I pulled up to their car, we greeted each other, got all of his gear in my car, and said goodbye. We were on the road, and ready to go. And go we had to. Because of the SB Nation craziness, I did not get our hotel reservations until very late. And all the good hotels in the area were all sold out. Eventually I found one which was a little out of the way . . . but it was on the entirely opposite side of Chicago that we were approaching from. Still, nothing to worry about. The sun was going down, and I knew the area quite well. No problems. How could anything else happen today. After all, today was Wednesday. There was no scheduled event today, so today would therefore not be eventful.



Driving into Chicago

Mychal and I had never met before. We have talked on the phone a lot, and been in videos together, and emailed and tweeted and all that. But we had never met before. So when you meet someone new you have an interesting chance to learn a little more about them, and to learn a little more about yourselves. We both shared a lot of knowledge on the drive from everything like running down all the players going to the Draft Combine to talking about world religions and the consequences of marriage. (Am I right, fellas?) The main thing we figured out is that we work well together, are a good team, and are able to handle a number of complex tasks in a logical way and get everything done with a full success. We're a good team. We're good team mates. We got to the hotel in record time, and we were ready to take Chicago by storm -- no number of toll booths could stand in our way.

(Toll Booth tracker $4.50 USD from Detroit to Indiana to Chicago)



Checking into the Hotel

While we didn't get our first pick of hotels, we still got a GOOD hotel. And I knew the area it was in, it was a really nice area. We trucked our stuff into the lobby, ready to check in and get down to work. The nice lady at the front desk was helpful, and willing to joke around with us for a while. If she was a barometer for how things in Chicago were going to go, we were going to be a hit, and things would go off without a hitch. Of course, the fickle fates intervened, and the weather changed drastically. She was typing at her computer. And typing. And continued typing. It was at that point that you KNEW something went wrong.

Her once cheery face became bemused, then vacant . . . and then worried. She made a hasty glance at the night shift manager, a healthy fellow of ample girth matched only by his generosity. He would surely assist his co-worker and figure things out. They wordlessly started to look at a different computer terminal while Mychal and I steeled ourselves for the worst. He started to flip through the newspapers on the front desk, while I opened up my cell phone's email client to find the reservation confirmation email.

The husky man came and addressed us in a matter of fact way that I have come to expect from these midwesterners:

"There is no good way to say this, so I will just say it." He started, while I dared not make eye-contact. There was a twang of remorse in his voice, he did not need to feel WORSE by what he was about to say by having to match my tired eyes. Customer service was a dangerous game for both parties.

"But your room is gone. A party that was here has extended their stay, and we are double booked. Your room is gone. We do have a solution -- we have a single bed room available. We will comp that room for you for tonight if you wish to go to another hotel."

We tried the other hotels first, though. There were no other rooms. This was the only room. The room I had the confirmation for. The room that was held by a credit card I had given them. This was the room that we could no longer have.

In order to make sure we checked in asap, and got down to work for our blog asap, we agreed to make the ultimate sacrifice. We would share the room, and it's bed, for at least one night. For SLC DUNK we said in unison, swords held high. It had to be done. The hotel gave us some extra pillows, and cookies for being good sports. So we eventually checked into the room which we then found out was reserved for handicapped people, with no couch, no spot for a cot, had a window view of a brick wall, and one bed. And a 0.5 bathroom with a wheelchair accessible shower stall that had a loose grate in the floor for water run off.

The two of us felt like it was late, but we had work to do. I did not have dinner yet, Mylo and his wife had Taco Bell. We watched the ending of Chicago @ Miami then were getting ready to go out to get a bite to eat. And then the most wonderful thing happened: I got my shoes on and my car keys and my cell phone, and my wallet. Mychal did the same, however, no wallet. We turned the handicapped room upside down, and it was not to be found. It's amazing how many things you need to keep track of in today's day.

And it's amazing how important one thing can be when you don't have it. We couldn't get Mychal into the Draft Combine without photo ID. This wasn't about money, or the ability to drive my car or whatever. We needed his ID. And we couldn't find any. It was 9:45 pm and we thought "okay, it just must be in my car, could have fallen out of your pocket during the long drive."

At approximately 9:47 pm we confirmed that the wallet was not in the hotel room, or the car.

We looked at each other, and the football that was now in my hand (that I got from the trunk of my car), and knew that Mychal now was tasked with summoning the greatest of greatest strengths a man can ever have . . . he had to call upon his very soul . . . can make that careful call to his tired wife who had driven back from no-man's-land by herself to their home . . . and ask her . . . "honey, can you do something for me?"




Driving back to Indiana

Long story short, the wallet was found (success!), but it was in Mychal's car, which was now back farther down into Central Indiana, and there was absolutely no way we were going to ask her to drive back up "halfway" to meet us. Not at this hour of the night. We absolutely needed his photo ID, so we absolutely had to leave right then and there. I put the football back in the car, and we got back out on the road to Indiana.

It was complete darkness all around us at this time, but I have a good sense of direction, and both of our cell phones were full of juice -- so this would be a cinch. We retraced our steps out of Chicago, driving a little bit faster this time, and made our way down out of the labyrinth of toll booths and back down into Indiana.

(Toll Booth tracker $9.00 USD from Detroit to Indiana to Chicago to Indiana)

And then we hit it . . . the most foulest of stenches known to Mylo . . . a dairy farm next to a hog farm, next to a sewage treatment plant. Which was too damn close to that double lane stretch of highway with construction in one lane . . . and a cop pulled a guy over in the only remaining lane. It was torture, but we had to brave the trials of awful stench and absurd traffic construction. (Our very own Scylla and Charybdis)

Thankfully my hybrid car was able to do all of this on one tank of gas, and we pulled into Myloville at 12:30 am EST. After a shiveringly cool wallet exchange at their doorway (women, am I right, fellas?) in the middle of the night we pulled into a Speedway to stock up on Indiana Vegetables and gasoline. The fates were with us on the way back, particularly because the other side of the highway was bereft of construction or twisted policemen.

We speedily made our way back to the hotel without any direction (I knew my way back home, and again, I somehow have a good sense of direction to drive to that place I had only been to once before ever) . . . and man, we were joined by the siren call of Diana Allen on the speaker phone. And she spent the next hour yelling at us because we had somehow avoided that from our wives directly. No, that didn't happen. We talked strategy on the way back -- we were super behind on our draft prep. We had planned on spending all night scouting these guys. Instead, we spent it driving.

We got off the highway and then I remembered that I did not eat any food over the last 10 hours (I didn't have any of the doughnuts). So I had to make a quick stop before we got down to business.

(Toll Booth tracker $13.50 USD from Detroit to Indiana to Chicago to Indiana to Chicago)



"I'm lovin' it."

There was only one thing open on the way from the highway exit to the hotel. It was a McDonald's. It was . . . it was the usual ending scene in a movie where two people from out of town get killed by random gang violence. It took a long time to get my order of a hamburger and a small fries in to the disinterested worker and we pulled up to the correct window (after pulling up to the wrong one first, good job, Amar!). And then this ruckus happened behind us, a car filled with loud youths and ill intentions! They made their order I presume, drove up behind us . . . then backed up behind . . . and then drove forward again with an apparent attempt to ram us.

Somehow we just escaped in the nick of time while I picked up the hamburger and fries while Diana talked about how bad McDonald's is . . . when we had her hooked up to the car stereo, so the lady who worked there could here. (BY ACCIDENT!)

We got back into the hotel, found our the Thunder/Grizzlies game was over. I ate my food, we planned our day backwards for when we had to wake up . . . and looked at each other, then to the single bed, and then . . .



"I'm lovin' it." Part Deux

. . . and then we somehow found a chair and propped it up with pillows (we didn't need to use the ironing board), some blankets, and somehow angled it to the bed in a way where we both could sleep, yet not break any vows we made before we started this trip. We talked for a bit, and I passed out. And Mylo had a dream about dinosaurs.


It was 2:23 am. We had to be up by 5:45 am. We had a full day planned ahead.

After all, today was only Wednesday. There were no events to be had on Wednesday, so it would be inherently uneventful.

The real show starts on Thursday . . .

But that is a tale for another time.



ps. There were a few pictures taken of how ridiculous all of this was, but because we are short on time and there are only two of us, we're going to quickly do the combine stuff asap and skimp out on the extra bonus features.