On the 16th of December, 2022, my friends and I were planning on going to see the Portland Trail Blazers play the Denver Nuggets. It was setting up to be a very exciting game; Blazer’s legend Damian Lillard was finally back from injury and with the tickets being dirt cheap, I managed to convince a decent amount of friends to go with me. While waiting in the common room of my dorm building for the final friend to show up, a genius idea popped into my head; what if I took a decent amount of edibles and watched the game high out of my mind? And with the plan of taking a 50-minute bus ride to get to the Moda Center comfortably early, I decided there was no time like the present for such an experience.
After heading back from taking the edibles in my room, I learned that my friend was going to be late, late enough for us to miss the last possible bus to get there in time. Thankfully, my friends had already accounted for that by ordering an Uber, the only problem being that we would get there just before the start of the game. Which means I would have to deal with getting all of my friends into the arena—as I was the sole owner of all of their tickets—high off my ass. By the time the Uber arrived, I was already feeling the effects. Crammed into the backseat of an UberXL, my sense of forbidding started to grow as the scenery outside my window turned from quiet suburb to the heart of Portland. To my drug-addled brain, it felt like a series of challenges were being imposed upon me, the reward being to sit and watch the game with my friends.
The first hurdle I needed to overcome was to find my fifth and final friend, Drew. He had managed to find his own mode of transportation and had been loitering around Moda for the better part of an hour. With my phone being the only way to access the tickets, he had no way to get into the building, and since it was a cold December evening, he needed to find some avenue of keeping warm. The text, “I’m by the large fire” was the only ominous hint he had given me about his whereabouts. After walking halfway around the venue, we eventually found him in front of what I can only describe as an Olympics style torch, staring wistfully into the flames. I grabbed him and we slipped into the sea of people, following the tide into the bottleneck of the front entrance. At this point, the drugs truly started to take hold, and all I could do was try to stay calm and find where my tickets were located on my phone. I had probably rehearsed the interaction with the ticket taker at least 20 times in that line and by the time I got up to the machine, it felt like I was reading off a script. I still managed to fuck it up. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where to put my phone on the reader, the person operating the machine eventually took pity and guided my phone to the correct location. Following that embarrassing interaction and an intense but unnoteworthy trip through security, we were in.
The venue itself was insane. The thousands of people milling around created a wall of noise that I so easily got lost in. I swear to god, I saw Kevin Durant walk past me, but I realize now that that 5’ 7’ person wearing Adidas track pants was not KD. That was also about the time the munchies were hitting hard. Drew, in an attempt to not pay for his ticket, insisted on buying me a meal, so we spent the next 20 minutes walking around the entire venue three times before finally settling on a pretzel stand. He then proceeded to buy me the cheapest thing on the menu, calling his debts absolved. When we finally got to our seats, everything hit me like a truck. All the sights and sounds I associated with watching basketball on TV were here right in front of me. The court seemed infinitely far away, but at the same time close enough to touch. Watching the game was blowing my mind, these people were (and I cannot stress this enough) just playing basketball. That thought was fucking me up. It’s not like I was expecting more, but it just struck my intoxicated brain as crazy that 18,000 people took the time out of their day to go to this game. That’s not even mentioning the millions of people watching from their homes. Sports are weird. I don’t have much to say about the game in specific that wouldn’t bore the shit out of any non-sports fan, so for the sake of space, I’ll skip most of the events of the game. I will say, though, that watching 10 giants running around trying to put a ball into a hole was objectively funny and quite interesting from a sociological perspective.
Preceding the game, the trip back to campus came to be an adventure in itself. Transferring from trains to buses at night in the middle of downtown Portland as a paranoid high person was stressful, but also had it’s comedic moments. On the final bus ride of our journey, the person I was sitting next to was on a voice call with their friends and kept using the word “Smort.” At first they used it sparingly, but as the conversation went on he started just repeating different iteration of the word. An average sentence would sound like “Smort smort smorts, smorting smorted smort!” They also claimed to be the smort king. It’s also worth noting their friends were named Broccoli and Savage. It felt like I was hallucinating that whole interaction, but all my sober friends corroborated the story so I guess it was real.
We eventually made it back to campus safe and sound, and I went directly to bed.
By Baller McBallson