Autograph Adventures will be a recurring series of posts highlighting my graphing successes (and failures) since I first started collecting nearly 20 years ago. I hope you are entertained and learn from my experiences.
October 25, 2010
My hoops autograph season tipped off twenty-four hours before the Celtics and Heat were set to open the NBA schedule at the TD Garden in Boston. Outside the Heat team hotel, I waited with a surprisingly small group of six collectors on a balmy autumn evening. Among them was my buddy Lewando, who informed me that none of the players signed off the bus upon its arrival at 6:15pm. So while I was running late, I had missed nothing. Still, I walked with a sense of urgency.
With LeBron James and Chris Bosh now in the Miami mix we worried that their reputations as rough signers (LeBron – impossible; Bosh – extremely difficult) would rub off on Dwyane Wade, an attainable superstar. We would wait two hours to find our answer.
After LeBron’s decision to join the Heat and create another Big 3 in the East, a question mark from a basketball (and business) standpoint was how the roster would be filled out around the stars. While we won’t know how the supporting cast will perform until the season begins, there are some decent names from an autograph standpoint. Jerry Stackhouse, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Udonis Haslem, Dexter Pittman, Jamaal Magloire, Joel Anthony and Coach Erik Spoelstra all stopped to sign for those who asked as they headed out to dinner. Former Celtic Eddie House also signed before I arrived. Juwan Howard told us “Tomorrow!”
The biggest surprise of the night was former NBA MVP Bob McAdoo—a coach with the team and generous signer—denying our requests. On the other hand, no one was surprised that Chris Bosh gave us the Heisman (“I ain’t signing.”) before folding himself into a black Chevy Suburban and taking off with three young female friends.
Lewando and I decided that we would only stay until 8pm which turned into 8:15 which turned into “until we see Wade”. We wouldn’t wait much longer.
The flashes in the lobby told us something was up. A few minutes later Wade stepped out in a Heat sweatsuit, flanked by Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers and two security guards. We approached Wade and asked politely if he would sign. “Not right now” he spoke at the phone he was tapping, not looking at us. The group disappeared up the street for a late night shootaround.
We strategized on where to engage Wade on his return. Stand outside the doors to the gym? No, it would give the security guards a chance to shoo us away immediately. Maintain our position in front of the hotel? No good either, we wouldn’t have time to pursue if he didn’t immediately content. We decided to split the difference and positioned ourselves in view of both destinations, about 100 yards from the hotel entrance.
Around 9:15 we saw the group reemerge and split up, Wade making a detour for a nearby restaurant. We approached slowly and asked him again to sign. He glanced at us and sighed, “Some guys don’t like being followed.” And that was that.
As I walked to the subway, I wondered how I became obsessed with a hobby that glorifies people because of a singular talent such as playing a sport or acting in a film (and leads me to hang around hotels late into the night on a Monday). I also thought of my wife sound asleep in our bed. Who, a few hours earlier, said she didn’t mind that I stayed out with more than a hint of disappointment in her voice. A couple things I’m interested in exploring further in future posts.
6 more observations from my night out graphing the Heat: