When I arrived at Mohegan Sun at 3:30 p.m. for the Basketball Hall of Fame ring ceremony, Dennis Rodman was standing in the lobby surrounded by his entourage. The journalist in me wanted to drop my bags and fire questions at him, but my polite and respectful human side held me back. So there I was, waiting for the elevator and shooting awkward glances at Rodman, somehow thinking that maybe he’d walk over to where I was and strike up a conversation with me. Of course this would lead to an impromptu gambling session where he would bankroll me in Blackjack, followed by endless hours of drunken debauchery and the greatest night of my life. Then the elevator sound came, I snapped back into reality and Rodman caught me looking at him. But I was frozen, so I kind of just kept staring. After a brief moment, he gave the “Yep, it’s me” look. Maybe not as good as I had hoped for, but good enough.
At 5:30 I headed to the cocktail hour, during which time the cheese platter and I became best of friends. Our courtship wasn’t smooth at first; it was more of an awkward dance. Free food is great, but you don’t want to come off as a hoarder. Sure, you can always take the no shame route and just stand there for an hour, but with plenty of people around, I didn’t want to be an obvious hoverer. Luckily there were a few platters scattered throughout the room so I could divert my hoarding three ways. Ultimately, though, I still had to continually rediscover the platters, pretending my palate had yet to experience the delicious array of culinary delights.
A few drinks and a lot of different bread and cheese combos later, it was time for the dinner and ring ceremony in the main room. Coaches, players and contributors walked down the center aisle (with plenty of circular tables on each side) accompanied by loud applause, as everyone’s accomplishments and contributions to basketball were announced along the way. Rodman received the loudest cheers, as he slowly strutted down the aisle with his feathered head attire.
Then, of course, came the most important part. Steak dinner. Somehow the Mohegan kitchen staff knew I liked my stake medium rare, so I was pretty psyched. The mild calm that had fallen over the entire room was a nice respite, but I knew it was merely a product of Rodman’s absence. When asked where he was going, Rodman reportedly claimed he couldn’t speak because he was “celebrating.” I thought that would be reserved for his after party at the Ultra 88 Night Club, but apparently not.