THE GAME: Clippers vs Celtics
For years, I told everyone who would ask - which wasn't really that many people; most people don't care about the combination of food and sports the way that I do - that the best food I had ever eaten at a sporting event was a smoked turkey sandwich from Gates BBQ at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Then, back on opening night in 2014, I had LudoBird's popcorn chicken at a Clippers-Thunder game. It immediately replaced the sandwich as the best live-sporting-event meal of my life. The batter contained rosemary and other spices and was as crisp as any fried chicken I have ever had, and the poultry itself was juicy and tender.
I've had it a couple of times since then but not taken any pictures nor notes.
Last night, I decided to try it again.
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- I got the popcorn chicken combo: in addition to the chicken, I received homemade chips and spicy slaw. That plus a bottle of water set me back $24.75. I'm not sure I've ever placed an order at a sporting event that cost that much sans alcohol, but what are you gonna do?
- I guess I should point out - I also purchased an extra dipping sauce as well. The combo comes with one, but if you know me, you know how much I love condiments. I got the spicy bird sauce and the honey mustard.
- The chicken was not as good as it used to be. It was still tasty, don't get me wrong, but not exceptional like it used to be. The first time I had them, the menu claimed they were cooked to order, and I believe it. These had been cooked several minutes earlier; they were lukewarm, not particularly juicy, and the batter peeled away from the chicken with each bite.
- The honey mustard was fantastic; one of the best I've ever had. I'm going to try to clone it.
- The slaw was just fine. It was definitely spicy and I ate most of it - although the container was laughably small.
- I will definitely order these again, though I don't expect they will ever be as good as the first time. Ain't that always the case?
- Also of note: the Clippers have a promotion that if an opposing player misses consecutive free throws in the 4th quarter, everyone with a ticket is entitled to a free Chick-fil-A sandwich the next day. Three times a Celtic missed the first of a set, but all three times he made the second.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- I've been to home games in several different arenas. None are as obnoxiously full of artificial noise as Clippers games at Staples Center. Why is that? Is it a reflection of Steve Ballmer's personality? (Before he bought the team, it had been almost a decade since I'd attended a Clippers regular-season game. I'd been to a couple of playoff games, but during those, the fans actually make a lot of noise themselves.) Is it the Clippers trying to fire up the crowd and distract everyone from the fact that this current roster simply will never advance beyond the second round of the playoffs?
- One of the guys I was with (a Celtics fan) met Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell as soon as we entered the arena. I haven't seen a grown man so thrilled since... well, since me the time I ordered three grilled chicken tacos at Del Taco and received four.
- Fans of both teams gave Paul Pierce a standing ovation. I certainly understand the Boston fans - and there were lots of them, including my two friends sitting immediately to the right of me - doing that, but Clippers fans? A standing ovation for the 17 minutes and 5.7 points-per-game that he has averaged for them? I know he's a hometown guy, but that was more than two decades ago and I guarantee no more than 10% of these people know which high school he attended. (Inglewood, by the way.)
- DeAndre Jordan was 3-16 from the free throw line. That's your First Team All-NBA center, folks.
- Do you know who holds the NBA record for most four-point plays in a career? Jamal Crawford. He set it last night with 49. You could have given me 100 guesses and I never would have gotten it.
- Crawford also hit 3 three-pointers in the span of 70 seconds, including one that looked like it was from 38 feet out.
- At one point, J.J. Redick flopped so blatantly in an attempt to draw a foul that not a single Clippers fan booed when they showed the replay. I've been to hundreds of live sporting events and I have never seen a "questionable" call shown on the video screen that did not elicit at least a few boos from the hometown crowd. It's like everyone collectively shrugged and said "Welp, that was a clear flop. Good no-call, ref!" Only a Duke player could elicit so little respect from his own fans.
- Boston was up by 10. A few minutes later - literally, it seemed like three minutes later, though it was more than that, I'm sure - the Clippers were up by 16. I've never witnessed a 26-point swing occur that quickly (in person).
- The Clippers shot 62% in the second half and won by 14. Both teams looked worn out, but Boston looked flat-out exhausted.
- These two teams have combined to win one championship in the last 31 seasons. In that same time period, the Lakers have won 7. It's always good to keep that in mind when you hear Clippers fans talking about how they're going to make Los Angeles a "Clippers town."