Day 2: NASCAR, UCLA, and Clippers vs. Timberwolves

By: Harrison Avigdor, Nick Montferret, Nicolette Hamilton, and David Shahar

Lobby of NASCAR's corporate office

Lobby of NASCAR’s corporate office

On the morning of March 9 2015, we started the day in the heart of Hollywood. We began on the Walk of Fame, then went to the respectable TCL Chinese Theater where the Academy Awards are shot live. As you stroll along the Walk of Fame, you keep seeing these amazing artists, actors, and directors who had a huge part in making Hollywood the name it is today. The Walk of Fame was established in 1958 and has 10 million visitors annually. There are currently 2,500 terrazzo and brass stars and stretches along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. Grauman, who is the founder of the Chinese Theater once said, “To visit Los Angeles and not see the Chinese is like visiting China and not seeing the Great Wall.” The Chinese Theater opened in 1927 and outside are cement blocks with movie casts and actors that consist mostly of their footprints and handprints. However, some actors have their knee print and gum print, such as Bruce Willis. They also have quotes to the public and ones that they live by. For instance, Shirley Temple’s block says “Love to you all.” While Sophia Loren’s says, “Solo per sempre”, which means always forever. These major sightseeing attractions are surrounded by even more reputable attractions. The Dolby Theater and the Roosevelt Hotel are among these sites. I couldn’t believe how amazing the Chinese Theater is and to make it even better there is an outside mall and major stores surrounding it. The Hollywood and Highland is the home to major retailers such as Fossil, The Shoe Palace, and Guess to name a few. These stores are located in the Central Courtyard and the backdrop of Hollywood Boulevard is one you don’t want to miss. I would love to come back and take some more time to visit everything Los Angeles has to offer. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.

After spending an hour or so on Hollywood Boulevard, we made our way from fun and games into the business portion of the day. We made our way to Century City where we met with Phil Metz, who is not only the Senior Director of Entertainment Marketing and Music for NASCAR, but also an alumni of Syracuse University. We sat with him for about an hour and for someone who never really watched NASCAR, I was really interested in how music could ultimately be incorporated in a sport that is surrounded around cars driving for a few hours. He explained to us how he brings in talent from all types of entertainment as a way to appeal to all demographics and help expand on the NASCAR fan base. Mr. Metz explained to us how he had no previous background in sports and had never really watched NASCAR before he was hired there. He told us how prior to working there he was a talent agent for hip hop artists and even at a time owned his own label with his father. The key thing that I took away from this experience was that NASCAR is a company that looks for individuals who are experts in their field and he believes that his experience working in the music prepared him to get to where he is today. He showed us a sizzle reel, which consisted of all of the collaborations he had done within the past few years and it was amazing how much could be done with a growing sport. I can honestly say that after listening to the creative mind of Mr. Metz and seeing everything that he presented to us today, NASCAR has definitely gained some more fans today. It’s all about the pyramid. That is John Wooden’s pyramid of success. The legend himself is gone, but his legacy and impact on the UCLA Athletics program as a whole may be stronger than ever. At an institution that has seen the greatest athletes, students, and young men and women such as Jackie Robinson, Bill Walton and Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabaar), the man that is honored most is this little English teacher from Hall, Indiana. From Pauley Pavilion which hosts Nell & John Wooden Court to the Wooden Center to the walls of nearly every athletic building on campus with these same quotes plastered all over, we all felt the effect of John Wooden as we walked through campus led by Bill Bennett, who has worked in the sports information department for the Bruins for the past 28 years. Starting at the campus bookstore where some of us grabbed our powder blue and gold gear, we immediately immersed ourselves into the UCLA campus as just another group of students that were just a little better dressed and all walked a little faster not being used to the sunny LA weather. Our first stop was the old stomping grounds of where the old Bruins used to play their games in this quaint gym known as BO Gym, which derived its name from the combination of all Bruin sports sharing a gym. Imagine that. As we saw Wooden’s old chalkboard hanging on the wall we turned to the sight of NBA center JaVale McGee on the other side of the gym, shirt off and all working on getting better for the day. At that point, we made our way to the home of the Bruins, Pauley Pavilion. It had recently been flooded by a broken water pipe that set back the program $1.8 million. Yet, it was still a state-of-the-art stadium full of Bruins accolades all around that holds 13,800 fans (2,500 students). During the Wooden era, Bruins basketball went 149-2.

Pauley Pavilion

Pauley Pavilion

Our last stop was the Wooden Center that holds all trophies and memorabilia of the Bruins, totaling 133 National Championships. As we took it all in, we had the honor of speaking with two Syracuse alums: Tom Theodorakis and Rayna Linowes. It was easy for us all to connect with them as they respectively spoke of their times playing lacrosse for the Orange and being involved in the Sport Management Club and WISE. Each with their own points, Tom talked to the point of working your way up through differentiating yourself, while Rayna focused on hitting the ground running and getting extremely involved. With the combination of their advice, all of us could make our own impact in the world of sports. The last thing we did today was go to the Clippers vs. Timberwolves game. This was exciting for me because it was my first ever NBA game and I had no idea what to expect. Tonight was also my first time at the Staples Center and I thought it was an amazing facility. The game day experience at the Clippers game was really a great atmosphere to be in and I thought it was really fun. The first thing that I realized at the Staples Center was all of the sponsorship signs around the stadium. There were company names on almost every part of the stadium from the side of the backboard to the video bands. As the game went on, I noticed many of the sponsors were involved in a lot of the promotional games too. The one thing that I enjoyed the most about the game today was the emphasis on entertainment. With Los Angeles being the entertainment capital of America, the Clippers created a very flashy experience. The game started with an impressive projection video display that introduced the starting lineup on the court. This was aligned with music that got the entire crowd into the game. In addition to this, the game had a lot of good promotions that I thought were entertaining. My favorite games were the kiss cam, a casino shooting game and, of course, Gronk dancing on the big screen, who was attending the game with his family. While at the game I ate at a BBQ restaurant, where I got a BBQ brisket sandwich. Once I saw the BBQ restaurant I had to eat there because I thought it was such an unusual type of food to get at any of the sporting events that I had been to before and it was really good. In the end, the Clippers won the game 89-76 and my first ever NBA game at the Staples Center lived up to all of the hype I had heard. The different ways that the Clippers entertained the fans during the game made a big impact on me and I would definitely recommend it to any of my friends in the LA area.

View from our seats at the Staples Center

View from our seats at the Staples Center

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Departure!March 12th, 2016
LA here we come!
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