(Photo courtesy of Melody Shahsavarani)
Hoover High School

Column: Steve Ballmer grants student’s dream to cover the Clippers

 

Since I was a little girl, the Los Angeles Clippers has always been the team I have rooted for. I attended my first and only game when I was eight and I have watched every game since.

As an aspiring journalist, I had the idea to get in contact with the Clippers in an attempt to interview my favorite players. It began with first emailing the Director of Fan Relations during holiday break. After no response, I then remembered that the new owner of the Clippers, Steve Ballmer, had given his email out to the fans at the Clippers Fan Fest.

It was Dec. 30 when I received an email entitled “High School Student’s Dream,” which was the same subject as the email I wrote to Ballmer. The first line stated that Ballmer had read my email and forwarded it to the President of Business Operations, Gillian Zucker, and with a single click, my dream became a reality.

The email mentioned that I would receive the full journalist experience at an upcoming game. With each line I read, the less I could believe it. I would attend Coach Doc Rivers’ pre and post-game conferences and sit in the upper press box to cover the game.

The next day I received an email from Aubrey Freckman, Clippers Communications Manager, which informed me that I would also attend Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan’s post-game conferences.

The date was set for Jan.10: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks. Tip-off was at 12:30 p.m.

On the day of the game, I arrived at the Staples Center at 10 a.m. As I went to receive my press pass, I was welcomed with my parents with such courtesy. I was greeted by Freckman and instructed on the guidelines to uphold as media.

We were escorted down to the press room, which had walls covered with pictures of the Clippers, Lakers, Kings, and iconic superstars performing at the Staples Center. Journalists were scattered around each table, reading the stats packet given prior to the game, and multiple televisions aired different games.

As I walked in, I immediately noticed Fox Sports commentator and former Clippers player Michael Smith. Within the next few minutes, Fox Sports reporter Kristina Pink walked in and began to write her notes for her pre-game analysis.

Eventually, I was on my way to Rivers’ pre-game conference. Rivers was asked about Rajon Rondo several times, and about who he thought would be a great coach from the Clippers team.

“I would most likely see Redick or Crawford becoming a coach,” Rivers said.

Rivers continued to talk about on how his team has improved, that during the games they have a better pace making quicker decisions.

“There’s a certain way to play offensively at every game,” he said.

Freckman then surprised me by taking me through the alleyway entering the court and that’s when I saw him. Blake Griffin.

Standing at 6’10”, Griffin was practicing alone with his assistant coaches as my jaw dropped. One of my favorite athletes was just a few feet away from me, shooting three-pointers.

After the pre-game conference, as I entered the press room, I noticed Pink, who is one of my greatest inspirations to become a sports commentator. As I shared how I got this opportunity, she asked me what I was doing before the game. I shook my head and responded that I was waiting for tip-off to go up to the press box.

Then, Pink asked me if I would “like to come courtside with [her] to get some coverage.” In awe, I watched Pink report pre-game statistics and what fans should expect of the night’s riveting game.

Standing courtside, watching Jordan Farmar and Glen Davis up close shooting free throws, just seeing how humble they are on the court, laughing and helping each other before the game, was incredible.

The game began, with the Clippers ahead at the end of every quarter. At halftime the Clippers led, 56-48, and Griffin had eight assists.

With great defense and pacing throughout the game, Spencer Hawes crossed the 5,000 career points mark, and the Clippers defeated the Mavericks, 120-100.

As the post-game conference started, Rivers shared with the press that the Clippers “played well throughout offensively, [and they] never turned it off.” He continued to say that with every win they get better, and even with a loss they know they played well. Adding on to that, he shared that the team’s consistency and movement improved.

“We are growing as a team,” Rivers said, ending the conference.

Within a few minutes, Chris Paul entered with his son and answered a few questions, sounding tired. He commented that he would like to see Griffin become more aggressive, and he praised Jordan’s great stamina especially in the third quarter.

Jordan and Griffin’s conference consisted mainly of witty jokes about Jordan’s new fashion style, and Griffin finished off saying that the “win helps our confidence, since it’s not always sky high.”

I would like to thank Ballmer for making this opportunity happen. The Clippers slogan says it all: when wanting to achieve great things for the future, “Be Relentless.”