A basketball oasis in the desert

I hope the NBA scouts weren't watching when I tried this game out. (Michael Schwartz/VotS)

I hope the NBA scouts weren't watching when I tried this shooting game out. (Michael Schwartz/VotS)

PHOENIX – It’s the happiest place on earth if you’re a hoops junkie.

All-Star Jam Session, where basketball fans of all ages see their dreams come true.

Sure, I was disappointed I couldn’t do the play call on a last-second shot of recent vintage – say Raja Bell’s three in the corner to tie Game 5 against the Clippers a few years back – but that was about the only thing missing from this basketball wonderland.

By the time my VotS associate Arash Azarmi and I got done with the Celebrity Game (video coming later), we had a little under two hours left before Jam Session shut its door for the night at 10 p.m.

As they say, time flies when you’re having fun.

First, we tried out the trivia center, with the goal being to beat the record of 15 consecutive correct answers.

I was feeling good listening to the questions, even guessing right on Elton Brand being from Peekskill, N.Y., and Kevin Durant hailing from Maryland (they do help by providing four answers).

After a couple simple questions like what was Dan Majerle’s number and what former Sun is the mayor of Sacramento, we were breezing along until the fifth question came up.

Where was Pau Gasol born?

I feel good about my knowledge of making an educated guess on U.S.-born players with a couple of the multiple choice answers being clearly false, but the question of whether Gasol hails from Madrid or Barcelona was a total guess. I first thought Barcelona, then changed it to Madrid, and as they say on the SAT, always go with your first instinct.

Game over.

At this point I changed into my basketball attire of a jersey and shorts so as to fit in with the rest of the Jam Sessioners, and I took a couple minutes to do some charity work.

Sprite and Fry’s teamed up to donate $1 for every made free throw (I swear it’s not a free throw though, it was clearly a few feet short of regulation distance), with each participant getting three shots.

I calmly sank the first two, then the third rimmed out. As a stunt for our video, I offered to donate the $1 I missed to charity (yep, VotS is rolling in dough) because I felt oh so bad about clanking the shot.

They ended up counting an extra dollar without taking my money. That’s my kind of charity.

Who doesn't love NBA video games? (Michael Schwartz/VotS)

Who doesn't love NBA video games? (Michael Schwartz/VotS)

We continued to walk around through a sea of NBA Live 09 consoles – a great game that I played at the EA Sports party Thursday night – and passed dunking hoops, three-on-three, bump out, slam ball, pop-a-shot, sling shot jam and even a chance to take part in your own sports show live on set.

But we were heading into crunch time of this basketball fantasy land, so we made our way to the Global Village to test my streaky J.

My mission: to splash six shots from six different spots “in the world” on the court, ideally in a day-record time of 32.5 seconds or better.

I breezed through a couple of layups and a free throw but then found myself shooting an NBA three (or so they told me). For all those college shooters who all of a sudden can’t hit an NBA three if their contract depended on it, I feel your pain.

It was brick city for me, and I ended up not even finishing the course in the 45 seconds allotted.

With the shot clock turned off on the evening so to speak, I then ventured over to an around the world type game and somehow forget to hit a jumper at the elbow in another humbling experience.

So much for those NBA dreams of mine, I guess I’ll have to stick to blogging.

Michael Schwartz was not paid a dime for this ridiculously positive article, although he probably should have been. He just really likes Jam Session that much.

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