Remme On The Road Blog



Editor’s Note: Timberwolves.com’s Mark Remme will be taking an unconventional route to New Orleans this weekend, proving once again you can take the flight from the reporter but you can’t keep the reporter from the Cajun gumbo. We’ll let him explain.

For lack of a better idea we're updating at the bottom. Scroll down to find the latest entry.
Latest Update: Monday 4:00 PM



Thursday | 10:30 AM:
Let me first start out by saying I did win some battles on Wednesday. For one, I walked back to my desk and had a free lunch voucher for Fogo De Chao sitting on my keyboard. I have my friend Lyndsey to thank for that, since I put my business card in their fish bowl while picking up a gift card on her behalf a couple weeks ago. And I also wound up not needing to wake up at 3:15 a.m. this morning to catch a 5:30 a.m. flight to the Big Easy.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is I’ve got an interesting journey ahead of me. The ice storms in Atlanta and Charlotte all but screwed up 80 percent of people’s travel plans in the Southeast this week, which is super convenient for those of us heading to New Orleans for All-Star Weekend. I initially had a direct flight to NOLA scheduled for this afternoon, which would have gotten me into town by 5:30 PM tonight, but we had a slight change of plans with Kevin Love’s schedule on Tuesday. That meant we needed to change my flight to an earlier departure so I could get into NOLA by noon today. The only way to do it was to connect through Atlanta.

You see where this is going.

Yesterday morning my flight to Atlanta was canceled, leaving me with no way to get to ATL and reach my connecting flight to New Orleans. We scrambled for about half the day, and Kaayla Chones in our Basketball Operations office did an unbelievable job calling Delta and other travel agents trying to get things squared away. Unfortunately there were no available flights that could get me to New Orleans until Friday night. That was a problem for me, because a ton of what we do over All-Star Weekend happens on Friday. We get access to the Rising Stars, and we get a ton of access to the All-Stars themselves during a big media availability session. I couldn’t miss that. Plus, K-Love is practicing his 3-point shooting at Smoothie King Arena on Friday morning, and we wanted to catch as much of the All-Access content as we could.

So the only real option was to fly to Houston and drive to New Orleans. Yikes.

Now I’ve been to New Orleans twice this year so I’m not unfamiliar with Louisiana. And in one of those trips we took a bus to Baton Rouge for an LSU game, so I do know part of Interstate 10. But outside of that NOLA/LSU area I’m not exactly privy to Louisiana living. I do most of my research on the Bayou by watching True Detective on HBO, and I did catch a few episodes of True Blood because of my wife. Needless to say, some serious stuff goes down on these TV shows. I’m curious what’s in store for me.

Not only that, but we do have another major concern on our hands. Pierre the Pelican was reportedly in an accident and underwent surgery this week, but that doesn’t mean he’s not on the road somewhere. I will be arriving in Houston and driving in the dark through Louisiana. What if I stop at a rest area and Pierre is there? Am I safe? If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it? I’m talking about the Pierre pre-surgery….



….Not the one that looks like Launchpad McQuack from DuckTales.



Fortunately, I do have some back up. Last night I checked my Facebook, and a friend of mine based in Munich who does freelance NBA writing and attends All-Star Weekend each year, also had some flight issues and was re-routed to Houston. He’s flying in at 5:30, and we’re going to drive together to New Orleans. That helps, because if Pierre or any of those vampires show up, I’ll need backup. And I don’t have Matthew McConaughey or Woody Harrelson’s numbers, so I can’t call them on this particular trip.



I’m headed to the airport momentarily and will try to update this blog as much as I can on the trip. I might not get another post in until I get to New Orleans tonight—I’ll get in around 1 AM—but I’ll be sure to share some experiences along the way.

And yes, for you irony-lovers out there, I will be getting into New Orleans about 7 hours later than I would have if I took the original direct flight this afternoon. And I will be missing out on all the Thursday festivities I was trying to get down there for in the first place. I get it. It’s kind of funny.

Not really. But this should be a great story to tell. Let’s roll.


UPDATED Thursday | 1:05 PM:
I’m sitting in the airplane as we get set to take off here in Minneapolis, and I’ll be honest you literally can’t make up this gold. I got to the airport about two hours before my departure to ensure I wouldn’t miss this flight. After my unbelievable chain of events yesterday, I wasn’t leaving anything to chance. I rolled up and tried to swipe my credit card at ticketing to get my ticket, and sure enough the computer tells me that my flight is not functional today. What? Are you kidding me? I immediately flagged down one of the attendants and she ran my information, telling me that since I switched my flight from MSY to IAH, the computer wasn’t making the connection. So she assured me I had a spot on the plane and we’re good to go. Thank you, I said. So I get in and grab a slice of pizza and a Fiji water (my friend Wise would be proud), and I began putting together a list of my Top 5 favorite All-Star moments from the past two years (which which you can read right here). Once our flight is boarding, I get in right away thinking we’ll have a pretty decent sized plane headed to Houston. Wrong. It’s a puddle jumper, and I’m sitting next to one of the biggest dudes on the plane. He walked in right before me while boarding, and he took the overhead spot I was going to use for my luggage. And I have a mother with her infant baby sitting across the isle coughing in my direction. In fact, the chorus of coughs on this flight is incredible. If I'm not sick by the time I get to Houston I'm going to seriously question the ventilation in the plane. But nonetheless, I’m on the flight and we’re on time. I should be getting to Houston around 4:30ish.

When I get there, I’ll be picking up a rental car and heading to the Houston Hobby Airport to pick up Christian, my fellow NBA journalist colleague who flew in from Munich. It’s on the other side of the city, about 40 minutes away without traffic, and I’m going to be leaving Bush Intercontinental in the heart of rush hour. The best route is to go right through the heart of the city to get there. This could get interesting. Stay tuned, folks.


Friday | 12:00 AM:
Well I know you were all staying up all night clamoring to hear if I made it to New Orleans or not. Fortunately for me and for the longevity of this narrative, I did in fact arrive in NOLA a few minutes ago. Not only did I make it, I loved the trip. I loved it so much that I don't think I'll ever fly directly to New Orleans again. I will just fly to Houston and drive the rest of the way.

I'm joking, but was a good time.

I arrived, picked up my rental car then picked up my friend Christian. The chances of him ending up in Houston were as random as mine, but long corey short he flew in from Munich to the states then narrowly made it to his connection to Houston after his flight to New Orleans was canceled. I had messaged him yesterday telling him my situation, randomly saying I was headed to Houston, and he messaged me back at 12:30 Thursday morning letting me know he'd be there, too. We connected, and I was happy to give him a lift to New Orleans. A very large number of things had to happen just right for me to be in this situation and have a partner to keep me company as I drove through the night, and it happened to work out perfectly. The odds of it are very slim.

We drove through Bayou country, and I wish I would've had more sunlight to capture it all. It was dark, but you could tell the swampland, inlets and rivers were an awesome sight to see. We made the trip from the Houston airport to the hotel in exactly six hours. Not bad considering we had to drive through Houston at rush hour.

Along the way, we grabbed some Taco Bell (something Christian can't normally get in Germany, so he was pumped for the chance to stop), we drove through Jefferson Davis Parish (yes, that does exist down here), and we got a chance to talk some hoops as we prepare for another All-Star Weekend. It was really a great experience making this drive.

We rolled into the media hotel and immediately saw some of the signage that reminded us it is All-Star Weekend and our guy Kevin Love is a big deal. He, along with LeBron James, have their signs right at the registration area so you see him first thing when you come to the hotel.

Lots of great things to come here this weekend. Tomorrow Kevin Love will do his 3-point shooting practice in the morning, and after that we'll try to swing over to the Rising Stars Challenge practice before going to the All-Star media availability. After that, we'll start posting those features and videos showing what's going on down here over the weekend. Stay tuned, there's a lot more in store here in New Orleans.


Friday | 11:25 AM:
It's been a pretty cool morning so far here in New Orleans. We got up, dropped off the rental car and headed over to the Superdome to pick up our credentials. We then went through an outdoor security checkpoint that we ultimately didn't need to walk through, and in the process the crew working ran my computer bag through the xray machine and let it run right off the conveyor belt and take a three-foot fall to the concrete. Classic All-Star Weekend situation.

We entered the Superdome and took a look around. it's a pretty cool setting, as you'll in this tweet:



The Pelicans' home court was moved into the corner of the Superdome for practice such as Love's 3-point shootaround. There is also a huge area that is set up for media dining throughout the weekend, but the weirdest part about the setting is how empty and quiet it is in that big building that's hosted Super Bowls, BCS Bowl games and, of course, the Saints' regular season schedule.

Check out this concentration...



....and these sweet Mardi Gras kicks...



After the morning shoot, we walked over to the hotel and watched as Love did his ESPN commercial shoot. It is one that will be used later in the year, and it involves a ton of All-Stars dancing/dribbling and cut to Pitbull's song "Timber." Hands down the highlight of the weekend so far was Dirk Nowitzki's dance moves. I was talking with the Mavs' PR guy, and he said when you get Dirk dancing on Media Day it is incredible. I can only imagine.



Next up, we have All-Star media availability for the Saturday Night participants as well as the East and West All-Stars. We'll be there for that, and we'll update the website more when we get that done.


Friday | 8:05 PM:
Here is the thing about New Orleans. You can't go anywhere without seeing Kevin Love's face. Observe:

Exhibit A:



..and Exhibit B:



See what I mean?

We wrapped up the media availability for the All-Stars, celebrities and Saturday Night participants earlier this afternoon, and we got great stuff from all the current and former athletes for features that will come out throughout the weekend on Timberwolves.com. Look for stories about the current state of the power forward position, former players keeping an old-school feel for the game as coaches, the importance of holding onto the big man position in the NBA and more.

We also got a chance to catch up with K-Love and talk about how his busy weekend is going, what it's like to prepare and compete in the 3-point contest, what he's wearing to the All-Star Game itself (he wore a tux in 2012) and more. Look for all that plus photo galleries coming soon on Timberwolves.com.


Saturday 3:40 PM:
As journalists, there are moments where you see reactions from players, coaches and the like that are, let's just say, not as well-received as you'd like. I had my all-time best run-in with an athlete today during the media availability session before the Eastern Conference open practice. Similar to on Friday at the hotel, the players have their own stations where media members huddle around and ask questions. They range from basketball Xs and Os all the way to what is your favorite shoe color, so it's not exactly all hard-hitting stuff. I got all my basketball questions in on Friday, and we had a fun project that we initially wanted Kevin Love to do for us but his schedule just didn't allow.

I took the mic and asked people to identify our mashups. One of our talented broadcast editors, Joe Kronenberg (who does work on many of our in-arena videos as well as Long Corey Short, yesterday's Valentine's Day video, etc.), took two All-Stars' faces and mashed them together to make an image of what those two people would look like together. We had 7-8 of them, and they turned out awesome. Guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Love were fused together, as were Blake Griffin and Joakim Noah.

Speaking of Noah, let's get back to where this story began.

We started out asking Kyrie Irving to identify a couple of the photos, and he really liked them. We also asked Paul Millsap, and he was entertained, too.

Then we get to Noah.

He did not approve. He wasn't mean or anything, but it was hilarious how much of a "you've gotta be kidding me" face he had throughout the entire encounter. He was gracious and answered two of them for us (and he was right on both of them). Props to Joakim for being a good sport. We wrapped up by asking Frank Vogel, Roy Hibbert, Kevin Love and Tim Legler (and his son, Ryan). They all loved the segment and were great sports. But the one I'll remember most is Noah.

Now, back to Love.

He did another round of 3-point shooting practice this morning prior to the Western Conference practice. The West's practice was a nice way for fans to come in and watch an open event and see the guys joke around, try half-court shots and get involved with cool relays with military members. There are not a lot of Xs and Os worked on during these practices, but it's a good opportunity to present more access to fans. Afterwards, we caught Love for a 1-on-1 (look for it soon on Timberwolves.com) before he went and got a little rest before an autograph session and All-Star Saturday Night.
Monday | 4:00 PM
It's funny--even though the All-Star Game itself is the main reason we all head to the weekend, but Sunday is always the least hectic day. The Thursday media circuit is always hectic, Friday is the day that everyone in the media looks forward to because of all the opportunities to talk with the players, and Saturday is the same type of deal. Add in player appearances, NBA Cares and other behind the scenes opportunities on the schedule, and it makes Thursday through Saturday the most crucial part of the weekend for journalist. The game itself is the grand finale, and it's a fun ending to a day that is definitely not nearly as demanding.

I usually use Sunday morning/afternoon to write a few features, get my quotes all in order and get get set for future features that will be in the works. That's what I did yesterday--by the way, be sure to look for additional features on 1980s/1990s players who are now coaches in the league as well as the evolution of the center position from the dominance of 20-30 years ago to a much more quality over quantity approach today.

The best part of the day is always right before the game when the players are congregating in the photo area to take group pictures. We took a couple shots that we posted on Twitter--one is below:



After the pregame stuff, we head up to our seats and prepare for the game. I won't go into the game itself in too much detail here--I wrote the game recap last night--but I will say the best moments fore me included when Magic Johnson asked the entire arena to sing Happy Birthday to Bill Russell, the pregame and halftime performances, and the crazy dunk displays showcased by LeBron James and Blake Griffin. Both were phenomenal. Here's a look inside the arena from our vantage point last night.



After the game, we interviewed Love, got the recap on the web and grabbed a quick bite in the hospitality room before getting some rest--we were headed to the airport by 5 AM this morning. I will say for as stressful as the trip to New Orleans was at times, the trip back was a breeze. It took 5-10 minutes to check in and go through security, and I'm pretty sure I slept for about six hours between waiting outside the gate and on the flight home. Which was good, because I had to scoop my driveway when I got home from all the snowfall this morning right away when I got home.

It's a good thing I snagged one of these guys before I left the Big Easy. Fitting for the weekend, I thought:



Bottom line, another great All-Star Weekend--this one possibly more memorable than others. Happy to say I survived and am back in the Twin Cities getting ready for the second half of the season. Here's to hoping the Wolves can fight through their ups and downs and get things turned around for the home stretch.




For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.