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A Spurs fan’s Utah Summer League diary: Day 2

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Up close and personal with the San Antonio Spurs

Jeph Duarte

I want to start by backtracking to Monday. After two flights with an airline that admittedly had to really try to accumulate that much damage to a single guitar case, a light rail, checking into a hotel, and walking to Vivant, the sheer intensity of being this close to the action was almost too much to process all at once.

For starters, entering the arena through a back door and walking my way directly to the floor caught me off guard. As soon as I began to take in my surroundings, I realized I was standing between Cayleigh Griffin and Joey Crawford. These may not be the caliber of celebrity worth taking a knee and catching ones breathe, but for a Spurs fan, they were both worth noting. One for her season as a sideline reporter and the other for ejecting Tim Duncan from the bench.

While walking around the arena between games I noticed a barricaded line of fans waiting for a meet-and-greet. They all got so excited when I walked into view until I noticed I was about two feet from Donovan Mitchell and the Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Not everyday one gets to wander the same restricted areas with such big time players.

I spent the postgame in a press huddle while head coach Blake Ahern, Lonnie Walker IV, and Luka Samanic recapped the game. And then I had an opportunity to have a one-on-one with Jeff Ledbetter.

Today, I started the morning at Vivant watching the Spurs have a shoot around. I have to admit, these are the friendliest people with which to interact. We were given time with any players and coaches who were available. There is a lot of respect between the Spurs and the journalists who cover the team. I have been quietly observing and doing my best to replicate the high standards and practices I’ve witnessed.

I spent most of my day in the media center writing and realizing that i had many more questions to ask Jeff Ledbetter. I reached out to Jeff in hopes of grabbing a few more minutes of his time.

For Game 2, I volunteered to update the PtR Twitter account in real time. I’ll admit, it is harder than it sounds. Watching the game and typing is a challenge unto itself. That said, I will never get over sitting three feet from the sideline where the ball is thrown in. You can hear the players interacting and really get a different perspective of the game. There is an plane and media row breaks that invisible boundary.

Jeph Duarte

After the game, head coach Ahern spoke about Keldon Johnson’s 29 points as well as the team’s ability to come together so quickly.

Keldon also came out and visited with the press. I must say, I was taken with his demeanor. His maturity and self-awareness is already at a professional level. He had the kind of game that would make most chest pump, but one day after signing with the Spurs he’s keeping his composure when questioned about his game.

And Jeff Ledbetter was gracious enough to give me a few more minutes of his time to finish gathering information on a piece I hope to have ready before Summer League season is all said and done.

Admittedly, I have a great amount of respect for the journalists who do this day in and day out. There is a lot of information to gather and so many ways to put a piece together. There’s running around, standing and waiting, and effort that goes into each and every game. Getting a taste of what professional sports writers do has been enlightening beyond measure, and I am grateful for the support I received these past couple of days.

One more day of the Utah Summer League, one more shoot around, one more game, one more press gathering, and one more chance to see the Spurs before I take my leave of Salt Lake City.

Go Spurs Go!


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