I had a blast!
TLDR version: I had a good time. Got a caricature, took pics with Dalembert, Parsons, Scola, McHale, Dragic, and Camby. Ate pretzel. Played basketball. Had a good conversation with Dalembert & later with assistant coaches.
Really long version:
Thought there would be more people waiting outside when I arrived. I've only been to 2 season ticket holder events, the Christmas party and Play Day last year. For those, it seemed like only the 1st 500 in the door got autographs to 1 or 2 players, and some of those got a photo pass, but I didn't get a photo pass for either time.
This time there was enough passes for everyone and leftovers- and they did not specify for only photo or only autograph. The setting were actually pretty casual, fans were not rushed like in the past, players were standing and not sitting at a table, and they allowed you to take a photo and autograph.
The first thing I did was run to the caricature line because there was a seat open and I knew it would take awhile and the line was going to get LONG. After that, I hopped in line for my autograph session in the Lexus Lounge. I was one of the first to walk in. I caught Dalembert as he was walking in and he started dancing. I was like "SAM! XFACTOR!!!" and I put my arms in an X and he did the same and smiled. I had done that before when I got a visitor pass to meet some Rockets players after a Rockets game in San Antonio. Today, I told him we make our arms in an X every time he shoots freethrows and we chant Xfactor for him. He always seems to dig Xfactor, then again he chose that nickname for himself. I got a picture with him. By that time, Chandler Parsons and a lot more fans had made their way into the room, so I waited in that line and also got a pic with him. He said something about remembering me I think. (He was the only other player I saw after that San Antonio game and I had him in the autograph line at the open practice so probably from either of those).
Walked out and got a pretzel and a soda, had to pay a dollar out of my pocket so that wasn't too cool. Also, I think the concessions stands in the club East and West charge more for the concessions if that's possible. My pretzel was $5.25, and in the concourse it is $4.75 (I remember the good ol' days when it was $4
). From the concourse, Dalembert entered into the club west or east whichever we were in and I said "X factor!" as he walked by and then he pretty much cut me in line. lol. He walked up and wanted a pretzel, and then I guess changed his mind to nachos. The ladies working the concessions started printing out receipt paper to have him autograph, a couple of them didn't know who he was. Nobody was swarming him at all, I don't think many people even saw him. Then he walked by me with his nachos, and I said "Sam, you know your teammates took pictures of you sleeping and posted them on twitter yesterday" he kind of laughed and said something like, "Yeah I had to wait around for a test so I fell asleep" but a longer way of saying that. I told him, "Well it worked! You had a great game last night!"
Walked back down to around the court, saw Chase and Lee walk by. They could only autograph down there not take pics, and I'm not big on autographs unless I have a jersey to be signed, so I didn't even bother. There were inflatables and motorcycle video games around but I didn't do any of those. Players were introduced on the court by Ackerman, and then Dalembert spoke on behalf of the players. That was hilarious. He said I can't hear you 3 times when he asked "How's everybody doing today?" Sam is my favorite Rocket to talk to and interact with now, used to be Lee. Scola took the mic and said "Sam talks too much."
I lucked out and was given a couple leftover autograph passes, but they were both at the same time, just in different locations. I thought I would try my chances at the red&white bistro location, while a couple other rowdies went to the practice court one and we were going to tell each other who was at each. Got in line, and guess who walks out of the elevator and into the autograph area- 4 assistant coaches. Waited a minute for players to show, and then decided to ditch that signing because I thought it was just the assistant coaches. I walked into the practice court and Scola and Morris were there. It was a cool setting to have it there because they also had balls out for people to shoot. I've gotten autographs from Scola, but never a photo so I was excited about that. Then I got word from a Rowdy who stayed at the other signing that Camby and Dragic showed up after the assistant coaches. I love Dragic so I definitely wanted to go back over there. I skipped out on Morris.
I got a picture with Dragic and then got him to sign a blank jersey which I'll make into a Dragic jersey. Then got a picture with Camby. McHale walked in late and I got a picture with him. A Rowdy's daughter had been walking around with me from player to player so that we could take photos with each others cameras. We started walking towards her mom's table, right by the assistant coachers were, when I think it was Kelvin Sampson who asked, "Are y'all sisters?" I said "No, but we're rowdies. So Rowdy sisters I guess." Then Chris Finch said something like, "Yeah she went to some Viper games last season." So then I started talking about those trips and how cool it was to go to a Viper game and a Rockets game on the same day. Then they asked me how old I was, what school I go to, and then they asked me a bunch of questions about my school. I said I used to go to A&M and made it to 38 games plus preseason with the 3 hr roundtrip. I think it was Sampson who said I deserved a fist bump for that. Then they left. That was so awesome though. I hated that I talked about myself almost the whole time instead of asking some really good questions for them, but it is so hard to come up with good questions and conversations when you're star-struck.
I spent the remainder of the time on the court shooting hoops. Hadn't touched a ball all month. Wow I was rusty. Then on the way out, they had most pictures printed out from the day. Every time you took a picture with a player, they had someone there to also take a photo. I brought home 5 of the prints. Either they didn't print out the one of Chandler and I, or someone really wanted a photo of me and jacked it.
I thought today was awesome and a great job by the Rockets to change up the format of the autographs and photos. It was really cool that they did them in areas of the Toyota Center most people hadn't been in before. (there also was a signing in the locker room). It was nice that we no longer have Thabeet and Flynn there or any player you might get disappointed when assigned their autograph line. Martin and Lowry weren't there, nor was Fortson. Only thing I thought could've been improved was the food.