A retro-diary of Game One of the NBA Western Conference finals
between Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This could be taken two ways: one, I'm making a mockery of my employment status by taking two and a bit hours out of my day to watch an American sporting event when I could be scouring social media for the latest rugby news; two, Steven Adams is pretty much zeitgeist and I have no choice but to jump on the bandwagon.
Let's go for the latter.
(1) The rules are simple. I watch the match in real time. All my thoughts are "live". There is no recording the game and watching it on delay to make myself look like I know what I'm doing.
No buildup. That's how I like my sport these days. Flick on the telly, whistle blows, we're off. Adams misses a gimme lay-up as he looks like he loses his bearing slightly.
My cousin Timmy, a former NBL basketballer with bung ankles and an insatiable appetite for sleeping, is staying at mine and has got up just in time to watch. He's predicting a big Golden State win. I'll be relying on him for expert analysis.
Adams pulls down a couple of big rebounds and then hits a little floater to get into the game.
"He's one of the best centres in the NBA," says play-by-play caller Marv Albert (2). Ah, that warm glow you get when a Nu Zeelander gets praised by an American.
"Look at that movement," Cousin Tim gushes as GSW move into their offence. Actually, it's unanimous MVP Steph Curry and his shooting star of a teammate Klay 'With a K' Thompson who are doing the moving. Injury prone Aussie big man Andrew Bogut remains immobile. They look like two planets whirring around a sun.
Halfway through the quarter Bogut smashes OKC's star point guard Russell Westbrook to the ground. If this was ice hockey, it'd be Adams' job to drop his gloves and have a scrap. I'd back the Rotorua bushman with gang connections over the Victorian Croat any time.
OKC are playing poorly. Westbrook and Kevin Durant, their other pillar, have turned the ball over five times and when Adams is subbed with four minutes to go, things start to unravel for the visitors.
All of a sudden I start to lose interest. Three timeouts are called within a couple of minutes. This drives me insane. I appreciate that the broadcasters have to fit the ads and the promos in somewhere but no sport seems to go out of their way to kill momentum more than basketball has. This is the first quarter for crying out quietly - let them play.
Adams comes back on and gets skinned by Draymond Green, the third element of GSW's Holy Trinity.
"All the way to the cup for an easy deuce," says comments man Reggie Miller (3) , and a little part of my love of sport dies.
(2) Albert was in the eye of a media storm when in 1997 he went on trial for the felony charge of forcible sodomy. Those charges were dropped but he plead guilty to misdemeanour assault and battery after it was proved he had bitten the complainant.
(3) He was a player I admired when he was in his pomp, particularly when he scored eight points in nine seconds to win an NBA playoff game for Indiana against the New York Knicks, making a choking gesture to obnoxious Knicks fan Spike Lee in the process.
End of quarter: GSW 27 OKC 21 (Adams 9mins, 2pts, 4rebs, -4 differential)
Adams starts the quarter with a loose-ball rebound but every time OKC try to get something going they're stymied by Durant's otherworldly bad game. It's like I've accidentally hit live streaming instead and I'm getting the Taranaki Mountain Airs (4) (5) .
With 9m 43s left in the half, Adams scores off a fantastic post-up move, then pulls off a block at the other end.
He does all this with what looks like A TEA-TOWEL SHOVED UP HIS NOSE.
With 8m 26s left there is another timeout. Did I tell you how much I hate timeouts?
Cousin Timmy calls a play and the opposite happens. I'm about to lose faith in his analysis when he comes up with this gem: "They've [GSW] got to try to get Adams defending out on the three-point line."
They do. Adams is beaten for speed.
Miller: "He can't defend on the three-point line." Wise after the fact Reggie.
With 6m 21s, Klay With a K looks like he wants to throw a tanty at Adams, but then looks up and sees who it is. Takes a chill pill.
The game gets fast and remains loose. Adams gets smashed on a dunk but doesn't get the call, he makes a lay-up, misses some free throws and gets called for a fairly obvious moving screen.
Thompson is a great player and catches fire - in a metaphorical sense - late in the half. I want to like him more but it's just downright creepy that he trims his goatee to look just like America's Favourite, Steph Curry.
He starts to kill OKC and when Curry hits a three to end the half, Oracle Arena erupts (also in the metaphorical sense).
(4) Has there ever been a worse name for a team?
End of quarter: GSW 60 OKC 47 (Adams 18mins, 6pts, 7rebs, 1blk, -4 differential)
Before I start this quarter allow me to tell you about the time, pretty much exactly a year ago, when my not-particularly worldly dad and his slightly more worldly wife caught a train from San Francisco to watch the Oakland A's play baseball.
They followed the crowd off the train at the Oakland Coliseum but couldn't find any of the ticket booths open. A kindly soul in a Curry singlet pointed the way.
On reaching the booths they were surprised when a) the woman said, 'You're in luck, we've got two seats for you', and b) 'That'll be $240 please.'
She pointed dad in the direction of an elevator and it wasn't till he got to the top and looked down upon a basketball court and a sea of yellow that he realised he wasn't going to be watching any baseball - the A's had played a day game at the adjacent Coliseum - and was instead going to be watching an NBA Western Conference playoff.
In the sheds, OKC coach Billy Donovan is telling his team not to panic, that they've risen from these situations in the past. I immediately wonder if those words are going to take on instant gravitas if OKC escape with a win, which I'm pretty sure they won't.
Back to the game, Adams does his reboundy, tip-inny thing, Westbrook finally gets his game going and OKC go on a run.
Then there's a timeout because, you know, it's been at least four minutes since half-flipping-time.
Every OKC run seems to be countered by a GSW spurt but it's clear the home team isn't playing particularly well and the crowd seems flat. Another little burst by OKC and the game is close at three-quarter time.
End of quarter: GSW 88 OKC 85 (Adams 27mins, 12pts, 9rebs, 2blks, +10 differential)
I balk a little when I see Adams' differential. It's higher than anybody else on the court. It's extraordinary.
This game is really quite exciting now and my note-taking is suffering, but I do not miss this: with 9m 42s remaining, Adams climbs for a rebound and notches another double-double (double digit points and rebounds).
When he is subbed off for what you presume will be his final rest, his differential is +17 (6) and OKC have taken the lead.
Adams makes a cute little jump hook. He's no Kareem Abdul-Jabbar yet but OKC are up by eight and that's all that matters.
The game gets all about defence - if this was NZ we'd be chanting D-fence (clap, clap, clap), D-fence (clap, clap, clap) - and Adams is right in the mixer. He needs to be because OKC's go-to shooter Durant has missed his last seven shots. Brutal.
Adams scraps for a loose ball, turns and attacks the rim. He's fouled, goes to the line and he looks the least nervous man on the court as he sinks both. He has made his last six after missing his first three.
Around the country, fists are pumped in front of office TV sets (7).
I have a colleague who believes basketball would be a far better game if they gave each team 90 points and started with five minutes left, but on the contrary I usually find the final minutes pretty dull, especially if one team has a small lead which the other team is trying to chip away with by fouling and stopping the clock.
There's a bit of contrived controversy towards the end. Did Westbrook travel before he yelled "timeout"?, but to be honest this match peters out to a surprising, but not shocking, OKC win.
(6) I am becoming obsessed with this stat.
(7) I completely made that up. I have no idea if your office even had the telly on, let alone whether you fist pumped.
OKC 108 GSW 102 (Adams 36mins 16pts, 12 rebs, 2blks, +19 differential)
Adams is interviewed courtside by Chris Broussard (8). He's a bit hokey and cool and philosophical all at once.
"We came out on top, man," Adams says.
Yup, Steve, you did. (9)
(8) Who once described homosexuality and pre-marital sex as "open rebellion" against God.
(9) As it turns out, not everyone was impressed with Adams' words. I knew exactly what he meant when he described the Warriors guards as "quick little monkeys". It is no more offensive in NZ than calling your kids cheeky little monkeys, but there is a racial connotation to it in many parts of the world and he did the right thing by immediately apologising.
I'm buying... Adams' men's grooming products
I mean, who wouldn't want to cash in on this moustache wax. With oakmoss, whiskey and rosewood oil, this is a must for any male who cares about their top lip. The fact it takes me the best part of six months before I show any visible signs of a mo' is by the by really.
I'm selling... Andrew Bogut singlets
There can only be one antipodean centre of attention.
I'M READING ...
This profile of snooker genius Ronnie 'Rocket' O'Sullivan is more than a year old but I've only just discovered it... and it's brilliant.
MY LAST $10
MY LAST $10
Oops. On the plus side, I did win a poker night on Saturday with the help of a big bluff on a pair of fours. Silver linings.
Last week: A seemingly low-risk, three-headed multi with Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles beating strugglers Richmond and St Kilda respectively, and the Waratahs beating the Bulls. It all went to plan except for an astonishing finish to the Sydney-Richmond AFL match. It is worth glorying in this particular failure.
This week: A stupid bet, the kind I loathe, but deadline is looming and I'm not feeling anything in my bones other than a win to the Crusaders by between 11-20 points against the Waratahs. There's a little bit of value at $3.25 but not enough to justify spending all my cash on it.
Total spent: $140 Total collected: $136.85