Friday, December 17, 2010

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I was never much of a basketball fan until I was invited to a Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics game back in the day-- The days of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and their huge rivalry. It was my first ever professional basketball game.

In the early 1990s they played at the old Forum, not the hip new Staples Center like they do today. I was "just a date" for my now Husband and a little unsure of what I was getting myself into. He said it was "compliments of his business bankers" and we'd eat at the Forum then watch the game with them. I basically expected to meet a couple of very serious old guys in dark suits and, honestly, didn't think it sounded all that fun.

This was back in my big hair and short skirts days but since it was a basketball game, I pictured it being barely a step above bleachers and hot dogs. So I dressed nice, but casually in jeans, and ate before I left since hot dogs and beer, my impressions of typical "game food", were not a favorite.

The VIP Parking Valet was my first clue that the night might be a little more than I'd anticipated. We were directed to the Forum Club for dinner where we met the banker, a 30-something guy and his young wife. Things were looking up.

The menu had only three entree choices-- Chicken, Filet Mignon or Lobster and the prices were, in my opinion, astronomical. I'd hosted my share of business dinners and always was put off when "the date" would order every expensive item on the menu eating like there was no tomorrow, so I remembered what my mother taught me and ordered the lowest priced $50 (!) chicken and tap water. Husband had the steak.

The banker and his wife both ordered the $125 Lobster dinners along with an unusually expensive bottle of white wine.

When it came time for dessert, husband and I passed but the banker ordered four desserts to-go so they could give them to their kids in the morning-- Those cost more than my nasty, dry chicken, by the way.

On to the game. When I was handed my ticket, I nearly chocked. They were center court floor seats costing $500 each! My first thought... Dang, I should have ordered the Lobster!

We sat directly across from Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty. I swooned. But when the players come out-- Oh. My. Gosh! Those guys were amazing.

When they dribbled the ball, our seats vibrated. When they ran past us, it felt like a small earthquake. When they scored long shots, the Forum rocked! It was honestly one of the most exciting things I've ever seen in person-- And I'm not even a basketball fan.

Husband and I have talked about that night many times in the past 20 years. First because of the price of things, since he doesn't consider himself or his company all that big of a deal to warrant such treatment. Second because shortly thereafter, his business banker whined that they had to relinquish their floor seats because the (then) economy was tanking. And third, because within the year, the 30-something banker's boss was laid-off and not replaced for budgetary reasons.

I'm pretty sure four season ticket floor seats would have covered the boss' salary and then some.

We saw the young banker and his wife three or four more times for dinner over the next several years. I continued to order the cheapest thing on the menu and they continued to eat like kings and queens then order take-out for their growing kids, all paid for with his Bank's lavish expense account.

I know "perks" are a part of doing business and have passed on and received more than my share during my career. But I'm always surprised when the "perks" are so excessive.

And I'm even more surprised when the businesses doling out these massive "perks" don't learn their lesson and repeat the excessive spending cycle over and over again.

So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I spotted the now 50-something banker and his wife, with doggie bag under their seat, at a recent Laker's game-- Floor seats, center court, right across from Jack Nicholson.


Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Orlando Florin Rosu -
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  1. I loved this story. Your mama taught you right..I hate grabby, greedy people. Sounds like a really great, and as you said memorable night...loved Larry Bird! back in the day....all the best Joanna ...enjoy our rain!

  2. Your values are shining through, JJ. The expensive bottles of wine touched a chord with we...I have seen that too many times when people are entertaining on an expense account. Sheesh is right!

  3. Yes, it's really hard to watch such extravagance when you're living month to month. :(

  4. Boston Celtics...Larry Bird....all that I can think of right now.

  5. I'm not into basketball, but that was a night to remember!

  6. First of all, I remember Larry B and Magic J!! I'm like you when going out and someone else is paying. I order the least expensive thing (hoping it isn't fish!) and always just have water to drink. Heck,I even do that when WE go out by ourselves!

  7. nice...used to get sky box tix to the tampa bay bucs through the bank...could not believe the price but enjoyed it while we could...

  8. I am so jealous! I love basketball and am a huge Celtics fan (although I have a soft spot for Kobe Bryant...he's so gorgeous!) I only get to watch the games on tv, but on the 42 inch, it's not too shabby. Not nearly like being there, though, from your description!

  9. So the banker is still at it? I don't care for people who live way beyond their means.
    I've been fortunate enough to join some business groups at baseball sky boxes. The dessert tray is a big deal.

  10. Seems when people are given the luxury of an expense account they treat it like a bottomless pit. Those are some Jones' I'd sure hate to try to keep up with.

    Great read girl.

    God bless and have an awesome weekend sweetie!!! :o)

  11. I always order cheap while my husband orders steak, so I really related to that.

    Joanna, thanks so much for your kind & constant comments. Gretchen was diagnosed with cancer less than a year ago. It's been a rough time, actually I've had NO time, and my blog is failing. I couldn't bring myself to share, so I posted a lot of pictorials instead. Even so, you were constant, and that means more than you know. Thanks again. xo d

  12. Most people are capable of shocking behaviour when things are 'free'. Unfortunately.

  13. Some people have no common sense if you ask me and it surprises me that the 30 year old banker didn't grow up and learn the value of a dollar and a savings account. I guess I'm a small town girl and I just don't get those types of excesses, even in the name of business. But what a treat to go to a live Lakers game - that had to have been so much fun and a great memory - thanks for sharing, it was fun to read.

  14. Great post. When I was an R&R Project Manager for AOL, one of the things I was required to do each month was spend thousands of dollars wining, dining and bringing joy and happiness to my clients. I found many of them to be spoiled, ungrateful children. I completely enjoyed every perk given me but wasn't surprised when things crashed. Excess can bring down the biggest of giants.

    Oh and The Forum....saw Cat Stevens, Black Sabbath, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, Gary Wright, Peter Frampton.....

    Those were the days!

  15. Ah, little did you know way back when.....

    I have friends whose family owns a baseball team -- they party in the owner's box and feast on caviar and filet minon. It's always about the movie stars who stop by, it's never about the game. It's name dropping and money dropping at its most excessive. I try and be excited for them when they tell me their stories, but - ugh - not my scene. I can't help but think of the disparity between these wealthy few and the rest of us. It seems shameful, really. But I'm no prude! I love to be pampered, I love a good meal, and I love a good spa day. I guess it's all about scale.

  16. Geesh..that is amazing!! I am pretty frugal..even was when I had money to burn. I am always shocked by huge excess.. But it sounds like quite a night.
    My mom had season tickets to the Dorthy Chandler Pavillion each year..we would people watch the see an amazing show and then she would take me for a great dinner..I miss those days..such fun. But never huge spending..except the seats..and wow that was heaven!!
    Hugs to you glad ya like your things..makes my month! Hon you made our season:)

    Hugs and love, Sarah

  17. I would've been just as content with a hotdog and soda. I can't believe how lavish it was. My dad worked at the "fabulous" Forum as well as my uncle so we were able to get in to quite a few games and shows for free and get backstage. We were pretty little but I do remember meeting the Harlem Globetrotters and even walking by some of the Lakers at the time. I was sorta afraid of them because they were so big.

    I don't get's almost foolish to spend so much on something like a meal and then dessert.

    I was taught to order the cheapest on the menu too.

  18. Wonderful story. Only the really privileged have no idea of the value of money, it would seem...

  19. What people just don't know. Shocking.

    So good to see you. I just thought of you earlier this week, Have a wonderful xmas!

  20. Awesome! And, imagine, $500 dollar a piece seats back then would be a bigger ransom now!

  21. i think i know a few people like that... you are my favorite story teller. :)

  22. Bankers, huh. So they have always been that way. Interesting. I have been to Laker games center court as well and you described it perfectly, the amazing energy and fun being right there so close to the action.
    I was in the mortgage business in San Diego and know of the perks between brokers, title companies, bankers etc. I think it is fun that you and your husband share the memory of your first pro basketball game and enjoy talking about it once in awhile. Hugs to you and your dear husband.

  23. Amazing!! Front row seats and gourmet food...wonderful! I would have been tempted by the Lobster as well.

  24. Too funny! I'm not a fan either but there is something about being that close and the excitement! I would people watch the whole time....! Great story!Have a wonderful Saturday!

  25. Too funny! I'm not a fan either but there is something about being that close and the excitement! I would people watch the whole time....! Great story!Have a wonderful Saturday!

  26. How fun that you got to enjoy this game with your husband. I cannot even fathom such extravagance, let alone on someone elses dime. I suppose they are used to that kind of life so it is done without really thinking about their actions. Happy Weekend!

  27. Thanks for bringing the Bipolar Shaman back into your sidebar. You rocketh.

  28. Your mother got it so right with you, girl! Ahhhhhhh, but what an evening, eh? Long ago, and back in the dinosaur age, I experienced a few of these kinda' events, myself - it still makes my toes curl, and my heart quicken a beat to recall them.

    Hope you and yours have fantabulous Christmas hon, sending you big hugs from across our side of the pond!

  29. I would have been uncomfortable ordering off of that menu, too. I can't imagine that kind of extravagance but I suppose some folks just live that way. I'm not a sports fan but I sure would have enjoyed being seated with such a view.. of Warren and Jack. ;)

  30. It really burns me when people spend other's money that way. Ultimately, it's their customers who pay for it all.

  31. I can't tell you how much I love
    going to NBA games! I'm a Pistons fanatic! We've never had floor seats, but we've been pretty close. My brother used to give us his corporate seats when he wasn't using them and they were a few rows off the floor.

    The couple you dined with that evening sound like spoiled brats! I love lobster, but would never consider ordering it on someone else's expense account! And a bottle of expensive wine? Wow, overindulgent, to say the least!

  32. With the exception of the greedy dessert people (OMG!) I'd say that sounded like an awesome night! I very much enjoyed this post!

  33. I'm like you....I would have ordered the least expensive item too! Sounds like it was lots of fun!

  34. I*'m no basketball fan, but this is a great story!


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