My Buckets List

You, the frequent reader of this site, may start to worry that the posts you see here are being driven simply by their fantastic titles. This is the latest in a string of posts in which the title was so good, that you must have thought, “Oh he came up with that great title first and then figured out what he would actually write.”

As much as I love some of the terrible wordplay in these titles, that’s not the case, especially not here. And you can tell, because the content of this post is really fun (unlike this intro).

Being a fan is all about experiences. “I was at that game!” means so much more than it should. It affects your memories forever. Even having been in the same building as a major event changes your outlook. And that’s all before mentioning what actually creating and relishing experiences can do.

I’m not a huge bucket list keeper. I’m on the lookout for fun ideas and places to go, but here at Palestra Back, I am all about making the basketball experience as rich and fulfilling as possible.

So here is my basketball themed bucket list. My Buckets List, if you will.

Already checked off:

Attend the NBA Draft: I’ve done so on multiple occasions (four times, in fact). Anyone who tells you it is not fun is a liar and should not be trusted.

A big game at the Palestra: Even if that Harvard-Yale game wasn’t on this kind of list before I attended, I would have retroactively added it and then crossed it off.

Ball boy at an NBA game: I got to do this one when I was very young. Great experience, not that much fun. I was too young to have any of the real responsibilities and, at least at the time, they didn’t give us a chair or anything. We just uncomfortably sat on the base of the basket for the entire game.

Still to go:

1. Attend two first weekend NCAA Tournament sites in the same weekend

I’ve been to tournament sites a few times before and it’s so much fun. You miss out on the other games going on across the country, but the joy of actually being at one of the sites is worth it.

What if you could supersize that feeling? And keep it going for four straight days? Keep in mind, when you head to a tournament city, you’re either getting games Thursday and Saturday or Friday and Sunday. But, with some very careful planning, you could eliminate that situation.

All you need is two sites that are close together AND have games on different days. Head to the Thursday site for four games, then Friday morning, make the trip to the other for four more. Saturday you head back for two more games. Then Sunday you cap it off with two more. Twelve games in four days.

Looking at the upcoming schedule, the best shots would be Brooklyn and Providence in 2016 (3 hour train ride), Indianapolis and Milwaukee in 2017 (4 hours by car), Pittsburgh and Detroit in 2018 (just over a 4 hour drive).

2. See a game in the following arenas: Cameron Indoor, Phog Allen, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Assembly Hall, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Hilton Coliseum, and for personal reasons, the Kennel


I’ve been to Cameron, but not for a game. I could tell just from the way it’s set-up that on top of the tradition and history, that the atmosphere must be insane.

Phog Allen is on the list not only for historical reasons, but also to see the Rock Chalk chant live. All indications are that it’s goosebump worthy.

The Kennel is my selfish addition to the list and an obvious choice. Favorite team, home arena, easy call.

If Carver-Hawkeye and Hilton seem out of place among this list, you either haven’t watched much Iowa or Iowa State basketball or you definitely didn’t pick-up that I’d try to do them in the same day. You may start to sense a theme here.

Ideally, the same logic could apply to Hinkle and Assembly. Going to a game is great. Having a day long basketball dream is Buckets List worthy.

3. Silent Night at Taylor University

Let’s stay in Indiana with another choice. An NAIA game? During the heart of basketball season? Yes. If you’ve ever seen video of Silent Night, you’ve wanted to be there. Quick recap: the Taylor students squeeze into the bleachers, stay dead quiet until their team scores their 10th point, and then they go insane. I’ve written about Silent Night elsewhere and I get excited every year when the video highlights pop-up. Plain and simple, Tina Fey says it best:


4. Attempt a half-court shot at halftime of a game

Cheesy, corny, and everything in between. I gladly admit that.

5. Organize and participate in a charity 5k where everyone dribbles a basketball the entire time

This one may be easier to achieve. It doesn’t really involve any luck or chance. It’s more about me being productive and doing what needs to be done.

Tentative names for the event include The Palestra Back Push the Rock 5K and The “Oh my God. Everyone Broke At Least One of Their Ankles During This Stupid Thing” Fun Run.

6. Sit in bench adjacent seats courtside at an NBA game in full uniform

Not sure if anyone has ever pulled this off. I don’t really care, either. It’s such a good idea. Everyone who sits in those seats could do it every game and it would never get old.

The key would be a coach with at least some sense of humor. When I start to remove the warm-up and yell, “Who do you want me to get here, Coach?”, I want a coach that won’t yell for security.

7. Dunk a basketball

Crazy thought, right?

Part of me thinks that if I trained and prepared, I could at least get close. Anyone who’s ever seen me jump is laughing.

If it’s off the table, I’d be willing to replace this entry with “Play in another basketball game that feels meaningful in some way.”

Also considered: See John Tesh perform “Roundball Rock” live, attend an Olympic Gold Medal Game, convince Joe Dumars to re-create the legendary “Two Phones Photo”, attend NBA Finals/Final Four, win the 2016 Palestra Back March Madness Fantasy Shootout.

So readers, what did I miss? What’s on your list? 

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