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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Trip to the New York Life ACC Tournament in Brooklyn!

For those of you who listen to my podcast, follow me on twitter, or in any other place for that matter, you more than likely heard me talk about the opportunity I got to attend and cover the 2017 New York Life ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, New York. In fact, by the time you may have even been tired of hearing me talk about it (if that is you the rest of this may not be for you). Despite that, I am going to take my chances and continue to tell you and recap a trip of a lifetime for me in which I was able to cross a few things off my bucket list.

I was able to partner New York Life, the title company of the ACC tournament, to support their “Be Good At Life” campaign. I was able to bring some behind the scenes access, exclusive interviews, and expert coverage of the games to you, Tar Heel fans. It was the best of both worlds as I was able to still be a fan and be myself through all my channels and yet got access other fans didn’t and opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise. It truly was something too good to pass up!

I flew in on Wednesday night in time to be there for the first UNC game on Thursday (thank goodness they had the double-bye). Now mind you this is a small town guy heading to the big city and started just like it. I actually make my way to the hotel and planned to drop my bags off and head to the late Wednesday night games. However, when I try to check in they tell me some rooms had been flooded and I would be going to a new hotel for the night. As much as I was annoyed,  I was at least glad they had the arrangements made already and seemed on top of it all. If fact when I got over it all and past the extra little time I lost of sleep because of the further distance from Barclay’s, I realized it turned into another good opportunity for me as I was placed downtown and within walking distance of many sightseeing destinations. I was able to walk to the 9/11 memorial site, see the new World Trade Center building, get over to Wall Street, see the bull, the New York stock exchange, the Trump Tower Building, and even had a pretty nice view of the Statue of Liberty. 


Even having my goal for steps in a day complete by the time I got to Barclays on Thursday morning I was ready! Thursday was a big day getting to the studio in Barclays by 9 am and not checking into my original hotel until around 11 pm. It started with meeting the team that made it all possible, going over expectations and schedules one more time before waiting for the games to begin. North Carolina was up first and because I was obviously there to cover them it ended up that I had to miss out on meeting with and touring NYC with the ACC mascots. Although I would take that trade-off any day, I was disappointed to miss out and it sounded like they were quite the group to meet and interact with. 


Also on Thursday was the interview with ESPN’s Seth Greenberg in between sessions (watch here: https://youtu.be/nXg4mBDycaI). Again something that I wouldn’t be able to get set up without the help. Also, with both UNC and Duke winning on Thursday it set up the big matchup for the semifinals on Friday night.

Friday was more of the same just starting a little bit later. After sleeping in a while, putting out more content on Friday morning it was back to Barclays. Even though I was not a part of interviewing Cory Alexander I was able to meet him and give him a hard time that UNC was still playing and Virginia had struggled in their loss the night before. Then as I was finishing up a periscope I did walking around Barclays I was leaving as the UNC media team was arriving and got to meet, chat with, and get my picture with Jones Angell, Eric Montross, and Adam Lucas, not that you didn’t know already, but what a phenomenal team! 

A couple hours before the big game I along with the other ambassadors got to attend the ACC Legends Reception up in a club in the top of Barclays. We got there just in time to listen to the panel with Antawn Jamison on it. We got to mingle with some higher-ups, not to mention the free food and soda. 

Not going to talk much about the actual UNC/Duke game, I’ve done that enough in my podcast here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/unchoopstalk/111_UNC_Basketball__Duke_Loss-_NCAA_Tourney_Time.mp3, however, it was unlike any game I’ve been to before. The vibe around the game, the crowd, and atmosphere was unbelievable! Not only did this cross one more thing off my bucket list, but I had some pretty great seats to do it!
I couldn’t get myself to stay for the late game after the Tar Heels lost to Duke, so I headed back to the hotel to get some more content out around the game and from all that I had taken in. With the final not happening until late Saturday night, I had all day Saturday to record a follow-up podcast to the Duke loss and prepare for the last interview I was able to do. If you are younger, you may not recognize him, but I am sure you have seen him shooting free throws on TV. Rick Barry, hall of fame basketball player, maybe more well known shooting his free throws underhanded was quite interesting to meet and chat with. He made for a great interview (watch it here: https://youtu.be/sZLwZz0GLaY), had lots of stories, and likes to talk! 

After the last interview the time was ours to enjoy. We hung out for a while, I did one last periscope with a Notre Dame fan and then found my seat to enjoy the New York Life ACC tournament. Of course, it would have been more enjoyable if North Carolina would have been playing or if Notre Dame had pulled off the win, but it was still a good game and great environment!

I didn’t plan on staying for the whole game as I didn’t want to see Duke celebrate and I had a very early flight the next morning on top of it being daylight savings night and thus losing an extra hour. However, the game was just too good, the environment too good, and I know I get mad whenever I see empty seats on tv and wonder how people could not go to games given the chance. It seems as if I didn’t write much about the games as if they weren’t a big deal to this trip, they definitely were. That being said this trip was about more than just the games in so many ways. 

The next morning I flew home, was back to my house by 11 am and it was back to being a stay-at-home dad as if nothing had happened. That is except that I can hardly believe it actually happened while at the same time remembering every detail of it all and thinking about how I can make it happen again! 

I have to through a huge thank you out to New York Life for making it all happen for me and being such a great host while in Brooklyn. Also, I have to thank the team I worked with (you know who you are) as well as the other ambassadors as they were great to work along side of, great help to me, and great to get to meet, chat, and hang out with. 

This has been my experience of my trip to my first ACC tournament, hopefully not my last. I wish I could say, until next year, but this totally could be a once in a lifetime kind of trip as much as I would totally be down for something like this every year! Thanks to all who follow me on twitter, listen to the podcast, and will read this as it wouldn’t be possible with all of you as well! 

Go Heels!

(After reading back over this, I feel like there is still so much more I could say, like being able to go to press conferences (one shown here: https://youtu.be/4NS_Nm2Wt3s), get into the arena before the gates opened, and yet I don't want to make this drag on too long as I know you didn't have the same experience as much. So I have chosen to add some additional pictures here at the bottom without writing about them.)